FILE - Portland Protests

A demonstrator holds up a fist in Portland, Ore., during a protest against police brutality and racism sparked by the death of George Floyd, who died May 25 after being restrained by police in Minneapolis. 

(The Center Square) — Portland police deployed tear gas on demonstrators protesting police brutality on Tuesday night after declaring the gathering a riot and making several arrests.

The Portland Police Bureau said in a statement on Wednesday that protesters gathered at Peninsula park on Tuesday evening. 

Marching northwest towards the Portland Police Association's office in North Portland, protesters reportedly chanted “Black Lives Matter” holding their hands up in the air.

The bureau alleges protesters threw objects such as rocks and water bottles at officers standing outside the Portland Police Association office. 

Portland police reported they fired CS tear gas at protesters—a type of tear gas which induces a burning sensation, vision deprivation, and respiratory problems.

A federal court ruling banned Portland police from using tear gas to disperse crowds except where “lives or safety of the public or the police are at risk.” It extends to July 24.

During a special legislative session last month, Oregon lawmakers passed House Bill 4208, which allows police to deploy tear gas only after it announces their intent to do so on a riot while allowing individuals in the vicinity time to disperse. 

In a letter to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, accused officers of creating an “unsafe situation,” calling their use of CS tear gas in a residential area unwarranted and a “public health hazard.”

“Smart policing is when an officer can differentiate a minor provocation from a serious threat,” Kotek said in the letter. “Nothing about this was smart.”

Wheeler has also directed the Portland Police Bureau to use tear gas only to combat serious and immediate threats.

Kotek also condemned Portland police for allegedly targeting journalists in the area reporting on the protests.

Last week, attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon filed a lawsuit alleging Portland police attacked journalists and legal observers documenting various protests against police brutality. 

Portland police said that it will be releasing further information on arrests related to Tuesday night’s protests.

Staff Reporter

Tim Gruver is a politics and public policy reporter. He is a University of Washington alum and the recipient of the 2017 Pioneer News Award for Reporting. His work has appeared in Politico, the Kitsap Daily News, and the Northwest Asian Weekly.