Don’t Shoot Portland protest focuses on James Chasse death

Protesters hold up a banner Friday during a Pearl District protest in Portland, Oregon. (KATU Photo)

Dozens of demonstrators blocked a Portland intersection for hours in the Pearl District Friday to protest against racism and police brutality.

The protesters gathered at Northwest Everett and 13th at about 1 p.m., where 10 years ago a 42-year-old man suffering from schizophrenia was taken into police custody and died.

The focus of the protest was on the death James Chasse. He died after a struggle with police after they thought he urinated in public.

The officers involved never faced criminal charges. The Portland Police Bureau says it has come a long way since Chasse's death, but many people believe that justice has still not been served. The city of Portland settled a lawsuit with Chasse's family for $1.6 million.

Protesters at Friday's event also served food and gave clothing to those in need.

Organizers said they'll be at the intersection until 5:30 p.m.

Watch a recorded video of the protest:

The protest began on the sidewalks, but then demonstrators moved into the interaction. Police on bicycles intervened to try and push the protesters back onto the sidewalks; however, police backed off and about a half dozen of them took up a position about a block away.

“I had calls from people in this area, and they asked, what can they do to help us,” said protest organizer Teressa Raiford. “I told them to call the mayor and let him know not to send the riot cops out. I don’t understand why they showed up. They didn’t have to come up and force people on bikes and shove people. They could have did what the police are doing over there -- stay in their area and make sure the public is safe.”

Almost two and a half hours after Friday's protest began, Portland police told protesters over a loudspeaker that their gathering was unlawful because it was blocking the intersection and asked them to move their protest to the sidewalks. So far protesters have ignored the request. In fact, one protester used a bullhorn to tell police the protest was nonviolent and there were elderly people, and women and children in the crowd.

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