The Police Bureau, controlled by Mayor Ted Wheeler, clamped down on a march along Northwest 23rd Avenue after property was destroyed.
Three broken windows was all it took for Portland Police Bureau commanders to declare a riot hours after Mayor Ted Wheeler vowed once again to crack down on a black-clad movement known as antifa.
The protest group gathered on Friday evening, April 23, at Couch Park in the city’s Northwest District, where one person dressed as darkly as midnight instructed those circled around to disperse as soon as an unlawful assembly occurred.
“I don’t want to see any arrests tonight,” the person said.
At 9:15 p.m. the band began marching, the beating of drums and chanting of slogans setting a stark contrast with bustling nightlife on Northwest 23rd Avenue, where members of the crowd smashed two windows of a Starbucks cafe near Overton Street.
Residents of a nearby apartment building shouted down at the marchers as they took photos of spray-paint on the coffee shop, saying property damage was not the point of the movement. One apartment dweller shouted: “Where are you going to post that, Instagram?”
“No, Twitter,” a protester replied sardonically.
Not long after, a local internet provocateur who had been filming the crowd from his bicycle was spotted and chased into McMenamins Rams Head near Northwest Hoyt Street. An aproned worker slammed the door shut and berated the crowd, and someone on the street hurled a projectile into another apartment window.
Police immediately announced a riot had been declared. The crowd, which numbered perhaps 75, followed the agreed-upon plan of action and returned to Couch Park and began to disperse. But those who lingered were alerted to two targeted arrests made near 19th Avenue and Hoyt Street.
Local antifa members have been actively discussing reports — first surfaced by Willamette Week regarding an arson suspect caught near the police union building — that such targeted arrests are due to a police informant discretely observing the unlawful behavior while themselves dressed in the protesters’ trademark “black bloc” disguise.
Court documents filed for more recent focused arrests, including two April 19 after protesters smashed up a Bank of America on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, have included few details regarding the alleged informant or plainclothes officer.
Instead, they obliquely refer only to “a person known” by PPB Detective Todd Prosser; Prosser’s source observed two women pass a hammer back and forth, according to a probable cause affidavit. The duo were later arrested near Northeast 15th Avenue and Killingsworth Street after changing into new outfits.
Two people, both 29, were also arrested during the April 23 incident, each on charges of first-degree criminal mischief.
Protester J.J. Collier of Vancouver sported fresh ink during the protest — a tattoo of a Nicolas Cage meme with a message beneath it: “Ted Wheeler” and an expletive.
“Being down in Portland and being subject to the tear gas and munitions for the past year or so, it’s been a rough one,” said Collier. “It’s absolutely frustrating to see a local politician fail so hard.”