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Protesters decry "slave labor" from companies that profit from prison workers ...



TRIBUNE PHOTO: DIEGO G. DIAZ - Dozens of people marched through downtown Portland Friday, Sept. 9, to protest prison labor. Two people were arrested in the protest.At least three people were arrested Friday afternoon during a protest that lasted several hours and blocked traffic on some downtown streets.

Portland police said the arrests were made at about 6:30 p.m. during a protest coinciding with the 45th anniversary of the Attica prison riot in New York. Protesters took to the streets of downtown Portland to decry what they called “slave labor” from companies that profit from prison workers.

The protest began around 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9, and immediately snarled traffic and blocked MAX lines. Protesters also demonstrated against white supremacy. The crowd began blocking traffic at Sixth Avenue and Main Street and headed north on Sixth, then plan to circle back to Chapman Square at Fourth Avenue and Main Street for a “noise demonstration.”

TRIBUNE PHOTO: DIEGO G. DIAZ - A man was arrested Friday, Sept. 9, during a protest in downtown Portland focusing on prison labor.In a press release from the organizing groups, the protest coincided with the National Prisoner Strike. The strike, “led and organized by prisoners in states across the America” is on the same day as the 45th anniversary of the Attica prison rebellion.

The issue is that prisoners “are often forced to work against their will and are typically paid less than 25 cents an hour to do everything from fight wildfires, make telemarketing calls, and sew McDonald’s uniforms.”

Portland police said some demonstrators threw things at authorities. Protesters took over the AT&T store on Third Avenue and Yamhill Street, refusing to leave when the manager asked them to get out.

The demonstrations lasted until about 7:30 p.m.

James Mathew Mattox, 27, was booked into the Multnomah County Jail on accusations of second-degree criminal mischief, interfering with a peace officer and harassment, police said.

Two other men were given criminal citations to appear in court, one on accusations of second-degree disorderly conduct and interfering with a peace officer, and the other for resisting arrest, second-degree disorderly conduct and interfering with a peace officer.

Officers deployed pepper spray at one point in response to the unruly nature of some in the crowd. Officers received reports from numerous members of the public who were scared, frustrated and intimidated by the actions of many in the demonstration. There were several different groups and causes represented in the demonstration.

Officers will be reviewing pictures and video of the demonstration in an effort to identify other criminal suspects and additional arrests are possible.

As with all demonstrations and marches, the Portland Police Bureau's goal is to ensure a safe, secure and orderly event for community members and to minimize disruptions to traffic.

Police noted that "free speech events" do not require a permit, but marches or demonstrations occurring in public streets that restrict movement of other community members do require a permit issued by the city of Portland to allow for the safety of all.

No permits were issued for today's events.

The crowd made its way through downtown to the Justice Center, where Portland Police lined the street, warning that arrests would be made if anyone entered the street.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: DIEGO G. DIAZ - Portland police in riot gear confronted protesters near the Downtown Justice Center Friday afternoon, Sept. 9.

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