While many throughout the country and the world celebrated the first day of a new Presidential administration protesters in Portland organized a vigil, a march and a nighttime protest outside of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] building.
National outlets reported on graffiti and vandalism committed at the Democratic Party of Oregon headquarters but few covered the use of chemical weapons deployed by Federal officers and even fewer reported on the morning candlelight memorial.
These images are an [ongoing] effort to provide a more nuanced and comprehensive depiction of an oft asked question, “what’s going on in Portland?”.
While protesters have demonstrated against ICE’s “cruel and inhumane” policies for much of the last year, organizing on Inauguration Day was intended to communicate to the new administration that it will be held accountable for promises made regarding immigration policy reform.
On the afternoon of Inauguration Day protesters and Portland police officers clashed.
Shortly after 2PM approximately 20 police officers on bicycles confronted protesters gathered at Revolution Hall prior to a scheduled march; officers announced they were looking for weapons and proceeded to confiscate the poles from several protest flags. When asked why the poles were removed officers explained they had instructions to "take anything that could be used as a weapon”.
After officers left the group, comprised of a mix of 150 Black Lives Matter, anti-fascist and anarchist protesters, marched through Northeast Portland. A Portland police LRAD [long range acoustic device] followed closely behind; the speaker system declared the march unlawful and warned that the use of force and crowd control munitions would be used.
Protesters appeared to disagree over what to do next and the march ended as the group split into smaller factions. Several protesters broke windows at the Democratic Party of Oregon business office and spray painted the walls with “Fuck Biden” and “Breonna Taylor deserves justice”.
Many of those protesting on Wednesday spent much of 2020 on the street advocating for racial justice, against police brutality and for the abolition of ICE. On Inauguration Day the group made clear their distrust and distain for the new President; one speaker referred to Mr. Biden as a “feckless puppet of the centrist Democratic establishment“ and others yelled that “Biden will not save us”!
Around 9PM approximately 200 protesters dressed in black bloc attire assembled outside of the Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] building. Within the hour Federal officers responded to graffiti and “trespassing on Federal property” (some protesters stood in the ICE driveway) with a barrage of teargas, less-lethal munitions and physical force. Numerous arrests were made.
The day marked the first for the Biden Presidential administration. In Portland protesters declared that “Biden will not save us” and “all Presidents are bastards” as they chanted, “What’s outrageous? Kids in cages!” and demanded the abolition of ICE.
For those questioning whether the end of the Trump presidency would bring an immediate end to ongoing protests January 20th was a strong indication that demonstrations demanding change and accountability will continue in 2021.