Portland police dismantle 'autonomous zone' set up by protesters

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Portland police have dismantled an "autonomous zone" that protesters set up overnight in the city's Pearl District.

Protesters gathered around an apartment building where the city's mayor reportedly lives and used dumpsters, construction materials and other things to create barricades and set up their own "autonomous zone," similar to what Seattle protesters did when they established the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone around an abandoned police precinct and have remained ever since.

In Seattle, protesters are still occupying the area and have changed the name to the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest, or CHOP. Police have agreed to not respond to calls in the CHOP unless it's a life-threatening emergency.

Officers in Portland moved in early Thursday morning to disband the zone, calling it an unlawful assembly and arresting at least one person, possibly more.

People who live in the area surrounding the protest zone have been told to shelter-in-place while police clear the streets.

Protesters said they set up the zone in Portland because their demands weren't met at a City Council meeting Wednesday evening. The council voted to cut roughly $16 million from the police budget in response to a national outcry over police use-of-force and racial injustice, but protesters said it wasn't enough. They wanted the council to cut $50 million.

Police said Thursday morning that traffic in the area should be moving again soon.

Like in Seattle and other cities across the globe, thousands of protesters have filled the streets of Portland every night for three weeks following the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.