PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Chants of “No justice, no peace. No racist police,” “Black lives matter,” and “Hands up, don’t shoot” rang out as hundreds of protesters marched through the streets of Portland Friday in direct response to the shootings in Tulsa and Charlotte.
Black Lives Matter protesters started their demonstration on in NE Portland and marched across the city to bring attention to recent shootings and racial injustice.
Throughout the afternoon, the group marched, blocking traffic on the east side for several hours and at one point walking through the Lloyd Center Mall.
One woman was on her way to the mall when she spontaneously joined the march.
“I was on my way to the Lloyd Center to get some makeup and I ran into this,” she said “And I was really shocked to see this going on, and I said, ‘why not be a part of it?'”
When they got to the Burnside Bridge, protesters stopped and laid down in the middle of the bridge for a “die in” and moment of silence to honor those killed in the recent police shootings.
The movement made its way to Portland City Hall, where the group went inside and continued chanting. The group hoped to speak to Mayor Charlie Hales, chanting “let’s go Charlie” and “bring out Charlie” outside the mayor’s office door.
The building closed at 5 p.m. but protesters remained inside for over an hour waiting to hear from Hales. The mayor spoke to leaders of the protest and addressed the crowd.
“Black lives matter. I believe that. They matter to me and they matter to a lot of people in this city,” Hales said. “We are heartsick and we are outraged by what’s happened around the country and we don’t want it to happen here.”
Hales promised to meet with leaders on Tuesday at 4 p.m. along with the police chief, Mike Marshman.
Hales heard reports of what he called inappropriate reactions from members of the police bureau during the protest and encouraged anyone who experienced excessive force from police to file a complaint. He said on Tuesday, Marshman would be able to report back about those complaints.
Protest organizer Gregory McKelvey with Don’t Shoot PDX explained what he witnessed.
“I haven’t see anybody be arrested,” McKelvey said. “I have seen people be pepper sprayed for absolutely no reason. I’ve seen 3 or 4 people get assaulted by the police…With don’t shoot PDX we are always 100% peaceful, any kind of violence detracts from our message.”
While the mayor said he respected the right to protest, he said someone vandalized the Lovejoy Room and women’s restroom in City Hall. Some of the crowd did not take well to the diversion from the point of their protest.
“You’re going to call us out for vandalism when we’re here for police brutality?” organizer Teressa Raiford yelled.
Police in riot gear and on bikes attempted to keep the protesters flowing safely and out of the way of traffic. In the heart of downtown, protesters sat down on the MAX tracks despite police threats that those blocking traffic would be subject to arrest for disorderly conduct.
McKelvey said knows the protest is disruptive and inconvenient for people trying to get through Portland, but “if we were just standing on the sidewalk, no one would have to talk about this.”
Raiford told KOIN 6 News the protest is in direct response to the shootings in Tulsa and Charlotte. She also said the killing of Larnell Bruce in Gresham, now being prosecuted as a hate crime, needs to be talked about more.
The group is also handing out information about white supremacist groups in the area.
Earlier this month, Black Lives Matter protesters gathered at a federal building before marching through downtown Portland.
KOIN 6 will keep this post updated.