Police Chief: May Day riot ‘pure criminality’

City works to clean up aftermath

Worker trying to power-wash an anarchy symbol off the side of Portland City Hall, March 2 2017. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Police Chief Mike Marshman expressed his dismay at the May Day riot that unfolded in Portland in a conversation with KOIN 6 News on Tuesday morning.

A fire set in downtown Portland during a May Day protest, May 1, 2017 (KOIN)
A fire set in downtown Portland during a May Day protest, May 1, 2017 (KOIN)

“I’m not sure what their message is other than pure criminality,” Marshman said in a phone call before he went into work.

“Our main goal is overall public safety and try to arrest folks who are committing the criminal acts and I think we did that last night pretty well,” Marshman said.

The bureau’s approach at managing the crowd did not change from events in November 2016 or January when the city saw large scale protests and riots.

Photos: May Day 2017 in Portland, Salem

He was surprised to see how many anarchists and members of the Black Bloc movement showed up to the May Day event.

“Their numbers were a little larger than I expected,” Marshman said.

Mayor Wheeler released a statement Tuesday morning, saying vandalism is a crime not a political speech.

Police tried to keep the anarchists away from the permitted May Day march so event organizers and participants could get their message out.

However, things turned violent. Police had to revoke the permit to the May Day march because of public safety concerns. Police and firefighters had projectiles thrown at them. Vandalism was widespread with several window smashed out.

Police arrested 22 adults and 3 juveniles during a May Day riot, May 1, 2017. (PPB)

“From there it just turned worse, so unfortunately, that’s why we had to end the peacefully, permitted march first for public safety reasons,” Marshman said.

Marshman said he doesn’t understand the message behind the anarchists who disrupted the permitted event.

“Traditionally, the May Day march (is about) immigrant rights and union workers and that’s a fine message to get out,” Marshman said. “These folks committing random acts of violence and assaults and just crimes I’m not sure what their message is other than they just completely devalue the system we have in the United States.”

The chief said he was particularly concerned about Monday’s riot when anarchists broke out a window to the Galleria Target store along SW Morrison and someone threw in a lit flare.

“That’s an amazing criminal act right there,” Marshman said. “That’s arson charge.”

Any business or private individual who was the victim of a crime during the riot is encouraged to file a police report by calling the Police Non-Emergency Line at 503-823-3333 or filing a report online.

The chief said he was meeting with Mayor Ted Wheeler, who serves as police commissioner, to discuss the city budget as the May Day march was occurring.

Marshman described Wheeler as being “little bit dismayed” after seeing the anarchists highjack the permitted march.

“They are damaging local community small business owners,” Marshman said. “And to me that is something I simply don’t understand. I don’t know why they would do that.”

According to Portland Police, 25 people were arrested; however, detectives are investigating and additional charges and arrests could be made.