“We want the Chief,” was the persistent chant as protesters stood on the steps of the Portland Police Department in an eye-ball to eye-ball confrontation with the long-blue line of patrolman mute when asked if they had tear gas with them. The exception was a policewoman who refuted that any standoff was going on between the blues and the hundreds of protesters in the street below. Shortly, thereafter she was removed from her position for an unknown reason. “We won’t leave until the chief comes out” and he had not appeared as of 5:30 pm when mhn.com left the steps.
Hundreds wearing face coverings spilled out in the streets for several blocks in both directions in front of the Police Department on Middle Street – waiting for the Chief – who never showed.
Officer Robert Doherty told mhn.com several times: “We are working on it,” when asked if the Chief would talk to the protesters. “I just wish that everyone would go home.” Doherty’s relief on the top steps who arrived shortly thereafter. said he knew nothing, had no answers and was not charged with communicating with the crowd of protesters. Protesters earlier in the event had been asked to disperse even accompanied with the suggestion that the police chief himself might possibly address them according to a local television newsroom official who described it to mhn.com.
Several thousand began the protest of the killing of African-American George Floyd on Congress Street in front of city hall at 2:00 pm chanting over and over: “I can’t breathe.” “Say His Name: George Floyd” and other messages that aroused the crowds into joining in with the leaders to repeat the chants over and over.
Deborah Hamilton, who moved to Portland from Chicago recently said: “I wear this mask with the intention of it being as visible as possible to support all the black men who have been murdered by law enforcement and racists who have been empowered by Trump’s rhetoric. He has promoted divisiveness since he announced his campaign.” Some think he’s promoting racial violence so he can step in and enforce his kind of martial law to show his masculinity.
Most of the protest continued to move down Congress Street headed to the Jail. However, the protest was met with a barrier that prevented them from proceeding to its destination. A tangent of the protesters broke off and went to the Police Station where hundreds of protesters stood in a circle near the intersection of Middle and Franklin Streets. Kala Robshano, told the crowd: “So often black people feel alone, but we have older people here.” It was mostly white, young people listening to her. This contingent left to re- join the returning group at Monument Square. Then the full protest went on to the Portland Police Department as described above.
Protesters were blocking street entrances to the police station at several different locations as mhn.com left the area.
Mhn.com posted parts of the Police Chief’s statement on the killing of George Floyd on a previous post. It was totally inadequate for the occasion. It did not express the real disgust that all people, even police counterparts, should feel at this time. His statement focused mostly on how wonderful his department is and it gave himself a big pat on the back. It was frankly tone deaf for the circumstances. It was the primary reason that only very brief excerpts of his lengthy pat on the back were printed herein. At least we know why general manager Jon Jennings hired him: His rhetoric will never outshine Jennings who demands center stage all the time. Even if he were to address the protesters who want to hear from him, quite possibly it would be as uninspiring and inadequate as his written message to the press was. (On a personal note, in just normal day to day dealings as a Portland citizen mhn.com has found some of the officers to be lacking in common sense and good judgment. No amount of training will fix that, I believe. Once it has been established that I am considered by many as a member of the press, the common sense and good judgment of some seems to have returned).
Where are Portland “leaders” on this? Portland has no leaders.