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Police quash attempt to set up Portland autonomous zone

Portland, Oregon. (AP)

Protesters in Portland tried to set up their own autonomous zone Wednesday night, an effort that was quickly quelled by the city’s police.

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Hundreds of demonstrators were marching in Portland last night, the city’s 20th straight night of protests. Portland Police Lieutenant Tina Jones told the city’s local CBS affiliate KOIN TV that the crowd started to gather in the North Park Blocks near the redeveloping Pearl District, where they started putting up barricades.

“Right around midnight we started to see shift in activity where different items were being brought in and barricades were being created,” Jones said.

Protesters were using stolen lumber from nearby construction zones, newspaper boxes, and large planters. They started setting up tents as well.

The zone, which included graffiti showing BLM with the anarchist symbol, was right outside Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s house. Mayor Wheeler said autonomous zones are not the answer to the questions our society is facing.

“I do not want an autonomous zone set up in Portland,” he told reporters outside his condo. “I’m watching what’s happening in Seattle, and I’m not impressed. I think it’s a distraction from the larger movement, and the movement is justice for black people.”

Wheeler was out early Thursday cleaning up the mess in his neighborhood. He continued to decry the situation in Seattle.

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“What I’m hearing coming out of Seattle concerns me,” he said. “Armed people walking around the autonomous zone. People being asked to show their papers and demonstrate where they are from at the entrance to the autonomous zone. Businesses potentially being shaken down to be allowed to operate within the autonomous zone. If you are asking if that is something I support, let me be unequivocally clear: I absolutely do not support that.”

While claims that businesses have been “shaken down” and that Seattle protesters were checking IDs have largely been debunked, that perception appears to have bled into the regional and national impression of Seattle.

There was one arrest in Portland’s attempt to set up an autonomous zone. The protest appears to have been dispersed without police using any tear gas or rubber bullets. The protesters obeyed verbal commands to leave.

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