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A View From The Fence: On The Front Lines of Portland’s Downtown Protests

When freelance journalist Sergio Olmos spoke with OPB “Weekend Edition” host John Notarianni on Saturday morning, he was tired. He’d been up documenting the Portland protests until 4:30 that morning; it was his 16th night in a row on the beat.

“Last night around 12:40 am the police cleared out the [Multnomah County] Justice Center and park,” Olmos said. “They threw flash bangs and were walking in lines, moving protesters back into the street and then eventually out of downtown.”

The nightly protests that started after a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd had stretched into their third week. Olmos said he couldn’t ignore the toll they were taking — on the protesters, and on himself.

“Night after night, the tear gas, the flash bangs, the confrontations… when they clear out these parks, the police are using batons and they’re pushing you back,” he said.

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“There’s a physical, mental and emotional aspect to this. We’re not just machines. I imagine a lot of people are experiencing stuff that’s hard to process.”

Still, Olmos said he finds it remarkable to see how clearly the protests remain focused on challenging police brutality, systemic racism and injustice.

“They’re still chanting George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Black Lives Matter,” Olmos says. “It’s not like these things have fractured into 100 tiny small causes.”

Use the audio player above to hear the full conversation from OPB’s “Weekend Edition.”

<p>A seventh night of protests ended with police using tear gas, flash bangs and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.&nbsp;</p>
<p>Jonathan Levinson</p> /
<p>A seventh night of protests ended with police using tear gas, flash bangs and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.&nbsp;</p>

Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting