Protesters stoke anti-Trump flames at downtown rally
UPDATE: Hours after peaceful rally and march, raucous groups clash with police.
Five people were arrested Friday after protesters clashed with police late into the evening. Police closed Pioneer Courthouse Square before 10 p.m., firing flash grenades at protesters who refused to leave.
The conflict came hours after several thousand people peacefully marched through downtown Portland's streets to protest the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump.
Crowds stretched for several blocks after leaving Pioneer Courthouse Square shortly before 5 p.m. Jan. 20. The march followed Southwest Sixth Avenue and then turned to gather outside City Hall on Southwest Fourth Avenue.
Police kept a low profile, but a line of bicycle officers blocked access to the Morrison Bridge, preventing the crowd from walking onto the busy road. TriMet trains and buses were blocked several times, and the agency delayed service downtown during parts of the evening as protesters continued through the streets.
Gregory McKelvey, Portland's Resistance organizer and a leader of Friday's rally and march, used a bullhorn to urge the crowd to demand action from City Hall as national policies change under a more conservative administration.
"We need to let the people in City Hall know that we need them to protect us from Donald Trump," McKelvey said.
Marchers followed drummers and a marching band, which sometimes played funk as the crowd danced and chanted.
People began gathering early Friday afternoon in Pioneer Courthouse Square as a weekend of marches and rallies kicked off to protest the inauguration of President Trump.
About 200 people were in the square by 2:30 p.m. Jan. 20, with nearly an equal number of media cameras and reporters around the square. Some people burned American flags in protest during the rally. People burned several large and small flags. A cheer went up from the crowd each time a flag caught fire.
About two hours later, several thousand people packed the square and listened to a parade of speakers.
Friday's protest was organized by Portland's Direct Action Alliance, which called for a two-hour rally and march. Other protests are planned Friday evening.
On Saturday, Jan. 21, will be the Women's March, which could attract more than 30,000 people to Portland's waterfront for a rally and march.
Mayor Ted Wheeler and Portland Police Chief Mike Marshman said this week that police officers would not interfere with the groups' peaceful rallies and marches, but would step in if some people tried to block public transit downtown or destroyed property.
The five arrests came after the smaller group of protestors turned violent. A sixth person, Billy Ellison, was arrested earlier in the afternoon in connection with a November protest.
TriMet said it would monitor the protests and suspend downtown transit service if groups became violent.
During Friday afternoon's rally, street preachers used loudspeakers on the north side of the square to argue with members of the groups gathered for the protest. Some minor pushing and shoving broke out, but was soon deescalated by both sides.
McKelvey told the crowd to avoid touble, even if provoked. "If you see somone you do not agree with, do not engage. The camera go to that and it becomes the story. The story is America elected a Diet Fascist and Portland rejects that."
After a poem about a friend being tased, read by Alice, a Roosevelt High School senior, Latino activist Francisco Lopez told the crowd that President Trump's inauguration speech wasn't about them. "Today, Donald Trump was speaking to white America," Lopez said.
For nearly two hours, other speakers urged action on sexual violence, homelessness, affordable housing and renter relief.
Tribune reporters Joseph Gallivan and Kevin Harden contributed to this news story.