Editor : Joshua Zamudio | Editor : Jenae Lien | Written & Photographed by Matt Lawrence
7/29 was the last night of Federal activity in Portland and it was pretty brutal. The following night after the Feds left was peaceful.
It's been wild being back up here under these circumstances. I've lived in Portland for 13 years and the city means a lot to me. Portland is where I started taking photos, so it was important for me to support BLM and document with the skills I've been building.
7/29 was wild. By the time I got downtown, the protest had already been declared an unlawful gathering. Shortly after that, the tensions rose when some protesters shot fireworks at the courthouse. The feds responded with flash bangs, pepper balls (non-lethal bullets,) traditional tear gas, and another gas that had a yellow tint, smelled like chlorine, burned the skin and caused vomiting and throat constrictions. It's been reported that they're using expired munitions and commercial grade mosquito hazer to gas the crowds.
For a few hours, this went on back and forth between the feds and the protestors until the feds came out in full force. I counted Border Patrol, DHS, and another set of guys who I couldn't identify (no badges/insignia). They arrested a couple of protesters and fired indiscriminately into the crowd repeatedly. Towards the end of the night, the feds resorted to camping out on a balcony at the courthouse, about 75 feet off the ground, from which they tossed tear gas canisters while firing pepper balls into the crowd. At one point they fired a volley of teargas that caused multiple fires in the BLM encampment in Chapman Square.
The night of 7/30 was entirely different. I didn't see a single uniformed cop after the alleged withdrawal of Federal forces. Apparently they're still in town at a different federal building. There were some sketchy vans and trucks circling the area, but the actual protest wasn't interfered with. There were some instigators in the crowd but they were controlled by other protestors and eventually the whole group broke up and dispersed without police involvement.
[More of this story will be continued in the next post.]