At 5 p.m. in Pioneer Square on Nov. 12, 2016, things appeared to be business-as-usual. People waited for the MAX, shoppers carrying bags hurried about, and a flower vendor played the soundtrack to the musical, “Hamilton,” while cleaning up around her cart. The only thing unusual was an apparent show-of-force by Portland Police Bureau; several squad cars circled the general area, one of which had officers in riot gear hanging off of the side.
Half an hour later, a handful of women gathered on the steps on the Square’s southwest side. One of them stood and started to talk about President-elect Trump’s misogynistic history. They were soon joined by other women, and began marching and chanting around Pioneer Square.
The fourth consecutive night of protests against Trump’s election had begun in downtown Portland.
At about a quarter after six, more people gathered on the steps at Pioneer Square. The protesters marching around the square joined them, and people began to speak; subjects ranged from feelings of insecurity over the President-elect, discouragement of violence for the night, and other types of discontent. After several people had spoken, protesters decided to march.
Initially about 300 protesters marched. The protest began by heading north on SW 5th Avenue, and turned west on SW Salmon Street. As the protest continued to head towards SW 11th Avenue, at least one shop began taping anti-Trump signs in their windows.
Police in riot gear blocked protesters at SW Salmon and SW Park Avenue, informing them over a loudspeaker, that Salmon was open to traffic, and protesters needed to clear the street. The police then directed the protest to head back to Pioneer Square, under threat of dispersion tactics. The protest stood still for a moment, until police rushed at them and a majority of protesters scattered to the south and east. The protest remained in the South Park Blocks for several minutes. People in surrounding apartment building and restaurants looked out from higher stories as police worked to clear Salmon St. and Park Ave. At one point, police declared that all protesters still in the street on Park Ave. were under arrest, and ordered them to remain where they were. As protesters eventually moved off the street, no attempt to arrest them was made.
Protesters eventually returned to Pioneer Square and began blocking east-bound MAX Lines. They were joined, at this point, by several counter-protesters who shouted Bible verses through loudspeakers, filmed on cellphones, and mocked protesters. “Did you even vote? Do you understand how democracy works?,” one counter-protester kept saying. Another counter-protester wore a Trump t-shirt and stood in the midst of the crowd and appeared to be live-streaming the event.
Police ordered protesters to clear SW Yamhill and SW Broadway. They told protesters that they would like to help them use their First Amendment rights, but also needed to consider the rights of all citizens, including citizens who needed to commute through downtown. Protesters who did not clear the streets were arrested. At least twice, police arrested protesters who were on the sidewalk. The police would leave and return several times as the street cleared and was then retaken by protesters. The protest slowly grew in size during the night. Police continued to clear the street, leave, and return when the streets were again blocked. This continued until about 11 PM at which point police deployed tear gas and began arresting people.
According to Portland Police Bureau’s website, 71 people were arrested. 67 were booked into Multnomah County Jail, and five were given criminal citations. All arrested were given a traffic citation for “Failing to Obey a Police Officer.” Police called a TriMet bus to transport all those arrested.