Respect Equality

Portland demonstrators move in to create their own ‘autonomous zone’ as protests continue

getty: Protesters march towards Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland on June 29

Story at a glance

  • Demonstrators early Wednesday began setting up barricades and tents across from a federal courthouse where they’ve clashed with federal law enforcement.
  • A group attributed with promoting rallies in Portland, Ore., rallied protesters to establish the Chinook Land Autonomous Territory, or CLAT.
  • Over the weekend, federal law enforcement officers used tear gas and munitions to break up people protesting near the federal courthouse.

Protesters in Portland, Ore., early Wednesday attempted to create their own autonomous zone in a downtown park just across the street from the federal courthouse where demonstrators have recently clashed with federal law enforcement, according to local media reports

KATU reports demonstrators overnight began setting up tents in Lownsdale Square in an attempt to create their own autonomous zone similar to the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone recently disbanded in Seattle.

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Portland Police said on Tuesday evening a couple hundred protesters gathered at Revolution Hall in Southeast Portland and marched throughout the downtown area before ending their march at Pioneer Square, a public space in the center of downtown Portland. 

Police say the group marched to the Justice Center, a county court building, and began blocking traffic by standing in the road and setting up barricades over the next several hours using industrial kitchen appliances, road blockades and flashing traffic signs. Authorities said the barricades blocked entire lanes of traffic. 

During this time, demonstrators lit several fires in the streets, according to police.

The Pacific Northwest Youth Liberation Front, a group attributed with using social media to promote rallies and commentary on protests that have often ended in confrontations with the police in Portland, said protesters wanted to establish the Chinook Land Autonomous Territory, or CLAT. 

“People are needed here ALL night long, especially in the early morning! Get on over rn! Bring some tents,” the groups Twitter page read early Wednesday, sharing an image of a barricade reading “ACAB,” an acronym meaning “All Cops Are Bastards,” and “Black Trans Lives Matter.” 

Around 1 a.m., the protesters left the barricades and walked to the police department’s Central Precinct “in an attempt to disrupt officers as they walked in from the end of their shift,” police said in a statement. 

Officers began removing some of the barricades prompting demonstrators to return to the area and “officers disengaged.” 

Police said demonstrators threw glass bottles and pointed lasers at them, and after officers left the area, the protesters lit a fire to what was left of the barricade. Several minutes later, a demonstrator put the fire out and several others began to rebuild the barricade. 

Police said the crowd dissipated over several hours. 

While Portland police said their officers did not use tear gas, crowd control munitions or force, federal officers appeared to have used tear gas and projectiles to break up the crowd, according to 

The incident in Portland comes as the city has seen Black Lives Matter protests everyday since the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, on May 25 by Minneapolis police. 

Over the weekend, federal law enforcement officers used tear gas and munitions to break up people protesting near the federal courthouse. Protesters were seen blocking streets, lighting fires and firing fireworks toward the courthouse. 

One demonstrator was critically injured when a federal officer fired nonlethal ammunition and struck him in the head, while in a separate incident, a protester was arrested following an attack on a federal officer with a hammer as he left a courthouse. 

Federal officers were brought into the city two weeks ago by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to protect federal properties amid unrest in the city. In recent days, officers have held a position inside the courthouse and have emerged to push encroaching protesters back. 

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said Tuesday the best thing the federal officers can do is stay inside the building or leave the city altogether. 

“I told the Acting Secretary that my biggest immediate concern is the violence federal officers brought to our streets in recent days, and the life-threatening tactics his agents use. We do not need or want their help,” Wheeler said via Twitter.