Protest City gears up for weekend of rallies, marches
'Peaceful protest is a bedrock of our society. We also understand that sometimes a limited number of people might seek the cover of these peaceful protest to commit acts of violence.'
Welcome to Protestlandia.
Get ready for a few days of marching, shouting and, Portland police hope, peaceful demonstrations beginning Friday, as Washington, D.C.'s inauguration ceremony takes place, and continuing into the weekend.
Mayor Ted Wheeler and Police Chief Mike Marshman both said Wednesday that city officials would support peaceful demonstrations, but would keep a lid on violence, like the smashing of store windows and damage to vehicles that happened in late November following the presidential election.
"Everybody understands with the inauguration this Friday it comes with a degree of uncertainty and anxiety for our city," Wheeler told reporters during a City Hall press conference. "Peaceful protest is a bedrock of our society. We also understand that sometimes a limited number of people might seek the cover of these peaceful protest to commit acts of violence."
"The police bureau will do our level best to make sure people have the freedom to move around and protest," Marshman told reporters. "Unfortunately there are people out there who want to do damage."
Trump supporters plan an inauguration cocktail party Friday evening in Vancouver, Wash.
Rallies planned downtown
Friday and Saturday will be busy for local groups planning to demonstrate around the city. At about 9 a.m. Jan. 20 (Pacific Time), Republican Donald J. Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president. By Friday afternoon, Portland-area activists plan to rally and march through the city to protest Trump's rise to power.
Marshman estimated that on Friday there could be between 5,000 and 8,000 people involved in marches and rallies downtown. On Saturday, Jan. 21, more than 30,000 people are expected to take part in the Women's March, a local version of a national protest.
A handful of the rallies and marches have received permits from the city, Marshman said. The police bureau is trying to talk with organizers of all the expected protests, and would be willing to issue permits on the spot, he said.
On Friday, the Direct Action Alliance plans an anti-Trump inauguration day rally beginning at 3 p.m. at Pioneer Courthouse Square with performances by artists and speeches. A march starting at 5 p.m. will wind through downtown, with the group returning to the square at about 8:30 p.m.
Direct Action Alliance organizers said about 10,000 people plan to attend the event.
"RISE UP and Resist Fascism is being planned to provide a safe and peaceful means for Portlanders to stand together, in solidarity against Trump," said Jacob Bureros of Direct Action Alliance.
"Our message is that this is not Trump's America, this is our city, we will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our neighbors and defend our communities."
Organizers have asked that people attending the event bring donations for the homeless, including blankets, sleeping bags, jackets, socks and gloves.
On Saturday, before the Women's March begins at noon, union members will host their own rally and march from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at Shemanski Park on Southwest Park Avenue. The group plans to join the Women's March after its rally.
'Not who we are'
Wheeler said he hoped the rallies and marches would show the rest of the nation that Portland was an active community that rejected violence and vandalism that marked protests early this winter.
More than 70 people were arrested in mid-November during two days of protests and vandalism that rattled local businesses and property owners. Some people used peaceful marches as a cover to smash store windows, block highways and public transit, and smash windshields on vehicles trying to get around the march, Wheeler told reporters.
"We support the First Amendment right to peaceful protest, and we want everyone who comes out to be able to peacefully protest," he said. "But, we're not going to allow people to go onto the freeways and we will do our best to keep people from blocking public transit."
Wheeler said his goal was "to make sure that the tens of thousands of people who would like to express their points of view can do so in an environment that is safe."
"Violence is not who we are," he said. "We're going to draw some hard lines when it comes to protecting personal property and businesses. If there is vandalism and if there is violence in this community, we're going to step in to stop it."
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