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4 Activists Arrested After Interrupting Portland Council Meeting

(Oregon Public Broadcasting) — Portland Police arrested four activists for trespassing Wednesday after they refused to leave a City Council meeting. 

The four activists aren’t part of an organized group. They come to council meetings most weeks to voice their frustration with city government. And they sometimes disrupt meetings by yelling profanity or shouting over other speakers. 

After a disruption began, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales paused the meeting and ordered everyone out of the council chambers. One activist, Joe Walsh, refused to leave the room, citing his disabilities. Walsh has lung disease and uses an oxygen tank. 

Portland Police then arrested Walsh and three others — Robert West, Mary Eng and Kif Davis — on charges of trespassing.

Walsh says he’s stepped up his protests at City Hall because he believes the mayor is implicated in the controversy surrounding now former Police Chief Larry O’Dea. O’Dea is under investigation for failing to report a shooting incident in eastern Oregon. 

Hales says he’s concerned the activists' disruptions are discouraging other people from coming to City Hall. He says he’s met with them privately to hear their concerns.

“My concern is that I think ordinary Portland citizens are less and less willing to come sit in these chambers when they know that kind of disruption is going to occur," Hales said in defense of the arrests. 

Walsh attends most city council meetings to protest city government. Earlier this week, Walsh used a megaphone to disrupt a press conference introducing Portland’s new police chief. 

Hales previously tried to have Walsh permanently barred from attending council meetings, but a judge ruled that violated Walsh’s civil rights.


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