Police chief not leaving, despite threats by protesters

Direct Action Alliance threatening unrest in Portland on Wednesday

PPB Chief Mike Marshman said he's not going to resign. January 24, 2017, (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — What started as a peaceful protest following President Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday ended with police using flash bangs and pepper spray against demonstrators who were attempting to walk onto local bridges.

Police said their actions were in response to protesters who threw “rocks, bottles, flares and unknown liquids,” at officers dressed in riot gear.

Officers use tear gas against anti-Trump protesters in downtown Portland, January 20, 2017. (KOIN)
Officers use tear gas against anti-Trump protesters in downtown Portland, January 20, 2017. (KOIN)

But some of those who participated in the anti-Trump protest disagree, telling KOIN 6 News it was police who incited the violence.

“Everywhere we went, they started assaulting us with flash bang grenades with gas canisters, with rubber bullets,” Jacob Bureros with Direct Action Alliance said. “They created a confrontation where there didn’t need to be a confrontation and a lot of people got hurt because of it.”

Now, Bureros and others with Direct Action Alliance are calling on Mayor Ted Wheeler to fire Portland Police Chief Mike Marshman. The group is threatening unrest in the city on Wednesday if nothing changes by Tuesday night.

“A decentralized, citywide occupation of squares, shutting down bridges, shutting down intersections, whatever it may be,” Bureros said. “And it’s going to last for a very long time until the city takes responsibility for what happened that night.”

In response to the calls for his termination, Marshman said, “I’m not going to resign.”

The chief told KOIN 6 News he was “surprised” they called for his resignation. He’s been managing local protests for 26 years and said he always deploys the least amount of forces possible for protests.

“Our goal is not to arrest at protests,” he said. “The protests aren’t the problem. Free speech, get your permit, we’ll help you do it successfully to get your message out.”

Marshman said it’s a “criminal element” at protests that’s the issue.

“A very small criminal element that seems to want to hijack some of these protests and cause the damage,” he explained. “They got the goggles, they got the shields on themselves, I just think they want to come battle the police.”

Marshman denied claims it was police who incited violence at the protest.

He also said having to constantly put police on the streets to monitor protests can cause problems elsewhere. Due to staffing shortages, Marshman said he has to pull officers and detectives who would normally be working robberies, break-ins and other cases in order to have them on the streets during protests.

On Saturday, KOIN 6 News spoke with Wheeler who was in the emergency ops center during the protest, listening to communications and watching the scene unfold.

“Based on the info I had [Friday]… I think police acted appropriately,” Wheeler said.

The Women’s March on Portland the morning after the inauguration protest was a much different story — organizers for the permitted event worked with police ahead of time to make plans and determine an effective route.

No arrests were made during that march.