May 25: Laid-off security guard George Floyd, a Black man, is killed when a Minneapolis police officer kneels on his neck for nearly eight minutes, triggering protests around the country.
May 28: Portland’s then-Police Chief Jami Resch issues a statement regarding Floyd’s death: “The actions and tactics displayed on the video do not represent our profession’s values and are contrary to our fundamental duty to protect and serve.” That night, Portlanders protest Floyd’s death outside of the Multnomah County Justice Center, a building that houses the county jail and Portland police headquarters.
May 29: A vigil in North Portland is followed later in the evening by a march downtown. A small group breaks into the Justice Center and sets a fire. Several businesses, including the Apple Store, are looted. Police declare a riot and arrest 13 people.
May 30: Mayor Ted Wheeler declares a state of emergency and announces a citywide 8 p.m. curfew. A large protest at the Justice Center turns ugly, more businesses are looted, and more illegal fires are set. The protest ends after police tear gas the crowd. Fifty-one people are arrested.
May 31: Thousands protest downtown and in Laurelhurst Park in southeast Portland. Another clash ensues outside the Justice Center, and windows are broken at the federal courthouse. Police deploy tear gas.
June 1: Wheeler and Oregon’s top federal prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Billy Williams, ask Gov. Kate Brown to bring in the Oregon National Guard, with Wheeler saying, “[W]e need help, we need more bodies to stop this senseless violence.” Williams, for his part, warns of “organized efforts” aimed at creating chaos. Brown declines to send in the guard.
June 2: Thousands march peacefully, lie down for a “die-in” on the Burnside Bridge.
June 4: Portland Trailblazers star Damian Lillard joins a protest march across the Morrison Bridge. Portland Public Schools Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero announces the district no longer will employ school resource officers provided by the Portland Police Bureau.
June 8: Resch steps down and is replaced by Chuck Lovell, a Black man who had been a lieutenant and whom Resch described as “the exact right person at the exact right moment.”
June 9: In response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of two protesters, U.S. District Judge Marco Hernandez issues a temporary restraining order against the city of Portland and Multnomah County, prohibiting the use of tear gas unless lives are at risk.
June 17: The Portland City Council approves cutting $27 million out of the PPB budget, including $15 million from four controversial tactical units. Activists had sought cuts of $50 million.
June 19: Thousands march to celebrate the Juneteenth holiday. Some shut down southbound I-5 on the Interstate Bridge. Multnomah County sheriff’s deputies disperse a crowd at the Justice Center after police say some protesters threw bottles, rocks, and ball bearings at them.
June 25: Hundreds of protesters set fires at the PPB’s North Precinct in Northeast Portland, while others loot adjacent stores and attempt to barricade doors. Police once again resort to tear gas.
June 26: Black leaders gather at the boarded-up precinct, decrying the destruction of Black-owned businesses and “terrorism” by white protesters who they say are hurting the Black Lives Matter movement.
June 29: Protesters block traffic downtown, break windows, and rip plywood off the Justice Center. The evening’s conflict ends without the use of tear gas.
June 30: Hundreds of protesters gather at Peninsula Park in North Portland and march to the headquarters of the union representing police officers, the Portland Police Association. Police say officers are pelted with baseball-sized rocks and other projectiles before they declare a riot and use tear gas to disperse the crowd.
July 1: Federal police are deployed as part of a new monument task force assigned to protect the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse and other federal property downtown. They engage with protesters, make arrests, deploy tear gas, and conduct operations blocks away from the federal buildings they are meant to safeguard.
July 4: Protesters at the Justice Center and federal courthouse clash with police and are tear-gassed by federal officers.
July 8: At police association headquarters, the union’s president, Daryl Turner, says the PPB needs funding for reforms such as increased community policing and body cameras. Turner also decries the lack of support from the City Council. Later that day, Deputy Chief Chris Davis gives a lengthy media briefing and shares video footage of what he calls dangerous and organized attacks by protesters. The current cycle of clashes, Davis says, is “not sustainable.”
July 9: In a police briefing, Portland Officer Jakhary Jackson describes racist insults, violence, and abuse he’s been subjected to by protesters outside the Justice Center. He calls on local pastors to “lead a march with officers down to this protest, and show these kids what a peaceful, meaningful protest looks like. … That would be something to see.”
July 10: During another protest, a man is arrested after allegedly hitting an officer in the head with a hammer.
July 11: Police arrest a protestor for shining a laser in the eyes of police. Meanwhile, at the federal courthouse, protester Donavan Labella gets hit by a rubber round fired by federal agents. Labella had been standing on the sidewalk across the street, holding a speaker aloft. He suffers fractures and bleeding in his brain.
July 12: Protesters downtown block traffic and set fires. Police say someone used a slingshot to fire projectiles at federal buildings and at Portland firefighters. The crowd dwindles and dissipates on its own.
July 13: PPB officers arrest a 12-year-old boy for adding unspecified “accelerants” to a fire set on the site of the former elk statue at Southwest Main Street between Third and Fourth avenues. Later that day, another group of demonstrators gathers in North Portland and marches to the PPA, where they block the street. Citing more protesters shining lasers in their eyes and throwing rocks, the police declare a riot and arrest five people.
July 14: Hundreds of protesters march on the Justice Center, set fires, and set up barricades to block traffic. Police say officers are targeted with lasers and projectiles. Crowd disperses on its own by morning. Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that federal police are using unmarked minivans to take into custody people who had been protesting downtown.
July 16: Amid a protest, the city closes Chapman Square Park and Lownsdale Square Park near the Justice Center, saying the closure is for repairs. Police arrest nine people on charges of assault and interfering with police. The same day, Chad Wolf, the interim head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, visits Portland and issues a statement complaining of chaos, property destruction, and “violent anarchists.”
Hundreds march on the police bureau’s Southeast Precinct. Police say they are pelted with rocks, sticks, and laser beams. Hundreds also march on the Justice Center, shooting fireworks at it. Police arrest 20 people.
July 17: Wheeler holds a press conference to call on the federal police to leave town, and U.S. Attorney Williams launches an investigation of federal police. City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty holds a vigil outside the Justice Center, condemning the federal presence and urging attendees to engage in peaceful protest. Police say they are targeted once again with projectiles, and federal officers disperse the crowd with tear gas and riot munitions.
July 18: Citing a clash with police the night before, Hardesty issues a public statement aimed at Wheeler, expressing interest in becoming police commissioner: “[I]f you can’t control the police, give me the Portland Police Bureau.” That night, a crowd marches on the PPA, breaks in, and sets a fire before the police engage to end the gathering by using tear gas.
July 19: Hundreds of people block traffic downtown, pull down a fence erected around the federal courthouse, and set a fire. Federal police disperse the crowd using tear gas.
July 20: Wheeler announces that he is not giving oversight of the PPB to Hardesty. Thousands of people, including a “Wall of Moms,” flock to the federal courthouse to protest Trump and the federal police activities. Later, hundreds remain, and some use hammers and tools to remove the plywood on the west side of the building, then break a window. Fires are set, a nearby jewelry store gets broken into, and windows are broken at City Hall. Federal police use tear gas and riot munitions to attempt to disperse the crowd.
July 21: In a press conference, federal officials defend their actions in Portland and report 43 arrests. Hardesty announces a ballot measure to heighten civilian police oversight and says she will continue pressing to head the police bureau. Thousands of protesters including the “Wall of Moms” return to the federal courthouse. Again, hundreds remain well after the large rally. They set fires and some people try to break into the building. Federal police repeatedly use tear gas to disperse the crowd while Portland police do not engage.
This project was produced in collaboration with the Pamplin Media Group. Zane Sparling contributed reporting.