Unified Command press release on Nov. 4 unlawful assembly and riot
Story by by Multnomah Co. Sheriff's Office
One group gathered in the North Park Blocks. Police deployed Demonstration Liaison Officers (DLO) to connect with people in the group. The group was not interested in having a conversation with those DLOs. At about 5:30 p.m., a few hundred people left the park and began walking through downtown Portland. Several blocks later, some individuals in the group committed acts of vandalism, breaking windows and applying graffiti.
Around the same time, another group gathered at Revolution Hall in Southeast Portland. The group of about 100 people walked over the Morrison Bridge, briefly causing traffic to back up along Southeast Grand Avenue and southbound Interstate 5.
Around 6 p.m., both groups occupied SW Naito Parkway. The groups used vehicles to block traffic and gathered in front of Portland Fire & Rescue Station One. Emergency calls had to be dispatched to other engines and stations. The group that started at Revolution Hall moved into Tom McCall Waterfront Park for speeches. This group managed their event safely and left later without incident.
At 6:40 p.m., Unified Command declared a separate gathering near the Skidmore Fountain, an unlawful assembly. The sound truck provided multiple announcement for people not to damage property or participate in other criminal activities, and that such actions could result in arrests or the use of force to include the use of munitions and CS gas.
Shortly after, a group of about 100 people began walking from the Skidmore Fountain through Downtown Portland, along West Burnside Street, breaking out windows as they moved. As police responded and ordered people to leave, individuals continued leaving a trail of damage. The ongoing criminal activity by such a large group of people created a significant risk to public safety. Unified Command declared the gathering a riot and gave repeated loudspeaker announcements that the crowd was directed to stop their criminal activity and leave. Those announcements were repeated at least five times over loudspeakers near the crowd.
People began throwing projectiles, including a firework, at police officers; (this was initially reported as a Molotov cocktail. After further investigation, it was determined to be a firework). Individuals broke out dozens of windows to businesses and damaged other private property downtown. Police officers identified the suspect who threw the firework and sheriff's deputies arrested him nearby. The man is identified as William K. Beecher, 23, was armed with a loaded rifle and was in possession of several loaded magazines, a knife and other fireworks (photos). Beecher was also wearing a ballistics vest.
In the interest of public safety, Governor Kate Brown, under advice of the Unified Command, activated the use of the Oregon National Guard to assist officers in responding to acts of violence, and to maintain public order and ensure community safety.
Law enforcement officers and members of the Oregon National Guard assisted in crowd management, clearing space for business owners to safely board up their properties. For about 90 minutes, police moved through Downtown Portland performing high visibility patrols, preventing further crime.
Police eventually disengaged from the crowds and announced that the crowd activity no longer constituted a riot. The large group broke into many smaller groups, which wandered around downtown.
At about 9:00 p.m., people started to gather in Lownsdale and Chapman Square Parks, near Southwest 3rd Ave. and SW Main St. They blocked SW Main St. and lit a small bonfire.
An hour later, about 100 people left and began walking north. Police responded to prevent the group from reaching W. Burnside Street where they had damaged property earlier in the evening. Police provided announcements over a loudspeaker that the group was not to cross W. Burnside Street and that people who engage in criminal acts are subject to arrest and/or the use of force including munitions and CS gas.
This announcement was met with aggressive actions by participants. Individuals again threw glass bottles at police and blocked vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Police announced to the crowd that the assembly was unlawful and needed to disperse.
At about 10:30 p.m., police dispersed the crowd for a few minutes, then disengaged. The group continued to move through downtown and damaged some additional property. Police again gave repeated announcements encouraging the crowd to stop committing crimes and to disperse.
Police moved people west through Downtown Portland to Interstate 405, then at about 11:00 p.m., disengaged from the crowd, to give people the opportunity to return to lawful behavior. Despite the efforts to deescalate, the marchers continued with the same pattern for a couple of hours.
At about 11:15 p.m., Oregon State Police troopers stopped a vehicle without license plates that was interfering with traffic. They discovered the driver had a handgun and arrested him. Wesley C. Fant was booked on a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm (photo).
The group mostly dispersed by 1:30 a.m.
At least 10 people were arrested. Officers recovered multiple firearms, ammunition, a knife, commercial and consumer grade fireworks, body armor and gas masks from arrested individuals, among other items. Details of those arrests will be provided at a later time.