After one of the quietest nights in months at Portland’s regular protesting locations Thursday, demonstrators planned to converge in North Portland Friday. They pledged “direct action” against police violence.

In recent weeks, such calls resulted in demonstrations at law enforcement buildings on Portland’s east side, where crowds of a couple hundred people used fireworks, small fires and tossed eggs to draw police actions. Police regularly labeled the gatherings as unlawful and broke up the crowds, sometimes with tear gas.

On Friday, the calls to gather at Peninsula Park had drawn more than 200 people by 9 p.m. Tables offered pizza and snacks, and at another table, people distributed helmets, shin guards and other gear, such as homemade shields.

The gathering was one of many that took place. Others occurred downtown, which is the longtime heart of the demonstrations.

Protesters have gathered nightly across the city since May 28 after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Locally, protesters are pushing for a range of police reforms and cuts to law enforcement budgets. Some protesters gather, chant and give speeches, while a separate group urges “direct action” to provoke police as a way of forcing change.

The size of the protests has diminished significantly since Gov. Kate Brown negotiated a deal with Vice President Mike Pence to remove federal officers, who had regularly used clouds of tear gas to disperse the crowds. They were replaced by Oregon State Police, who helped protect federal buildings from vandalism over the past few weeks. Yet since Oregon State Police announced Thursday they were pulling back, questions remain about whether federal officers will return to the nightly protests.

No answers arrived Thursday, because only a few dozen people gathered outside the federal courthouse. Other demonstrations also drew small crowds throughout the city, but all remained peaceful.

Beth Nakamura of The Oregonian/OregonLive contributed to this report.

— Jamie Goldberg


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