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Regional Interests

Portland’s mostly-peaceful May Day gatherings give way to vandalism, conflict and arrests

Portland police declared a riot and made arrests at May Day activities Saturday night, following a day of mostly peaceful marches and rallies.

The Portland Police Bureau made just one arrest at a dayside march downtown, charging a 26-year-old man with menacing and disorderly conduct. Other daylight gatherings, which aimed to express worker rights and other political views, were held without incident. They took place at Peninsula Park, Holladay Park, Shemanski Park and on a march from inner-Southeast Portland across the Tilikum Crossing bridge to the U.S. Customs and Immigration facility.

For more than a century, organized labor and the political left have used May Day to commemorate fallen union advocates and to push for for worker rights and other causes. Nonetheless, Saturday’s gatherings included a gun-rights rally that drew members of the far-right Proud Boys in Salem’s Riverfront Park.

What was a largely peaceful May Day during daylight hours involved several incidents of after-dark conflict between activists and the Portland Police Bureau. Two gatherings described as “autonomous” protests in social media posts drew a combined 150 people. One was at the ICE facility in south Portland and the other, at Shemanski Park, led to a march into downtown Portland. Police say they issued the riot declaration and began breaking up the gatherings after windows were broken, buildings were spray-painted and acts of arson, assault, vandalism and theft were committed.

Police said they arrested six people. Charges included criminal mischief, resisting arrest and menacing officers.

Police confront May Day protesters at the  Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, facility on Saturday, May 1, 2021 in Portland, Ore. From Portland to Salem, May Day demonstrators attended protests to make their voices heard.
Paula Bronstein /
Police confront May Day protesters at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, facility on Saturday, May 1, 2021 in Portland, Ore. From Portland to Salem, May Day demonstrators attended protests to make their voices heard.
Portland police confront May Day protesters at the ICE facility on Saturday May 1, 2021 in Portland, Ore. From Portland to Salem, May Day demonstrators were seen hitting the streets to make their voices heard.
Paula Bronstein /
Portland police confront May Day protesters at the ICE facility on Saturday May 1, 2021 in Portland, Ore. From Portland to Salem, May Day demonstrators were seen hitting the streets to make their voices heard.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting