Portland protesters create short-lived ‘autonomous zone'

PORTLAND, Ore. — For a brief time, Portland mirrored Seattle, forming what protesters called an “autonomous zone.”

Thousands of protesters have filled Portland’s streets nightly for three weeks following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Late Wednesday night, protesters started shining lights and lasers and chanting slogans outside an apartment building in the Pearl District where they believe Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler lives, KOIN reported. One man climbed onto the awning of the building and appeared to be looking into windows.

Around midnight, a group started dragging everything from dumpsters to recycling bins, picnic tables and pallets into the street to create a makeshift barrier. Speakers declared the area an “autonomous zone.” One announced, “Under no circumstances do we leave tonight,” according to KOIN.

Some called the area PKAZ. PK stands for Patrick Kimmons, a man shot and killed by police in 2018. Officers in the case were cleared of any wrongdoing.

At 5:30 a.m. Thursday, police declared a civil disturbance and unlawful assembly in the area, saying if people didn’t leave they would be subject to arrest or use of force.

About 30 minutes later, everyone had left the area and cleanup began.

The sudden shift in tactics came after the Portland City Council cut nearly $16 million from the Portland Police Bureau’s budget. But protesters wanted far more cut in response to concerns about police brutality and racial injustice.

PPB’s budget is about $245 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.