Portland protesters can legally assemble at any location in town provided they have a permit. A permit can be obtained by going to City Hall’s special events department, otherwise known as Street and Sidewalk Uses.
The special events coordinator works with the chief organizer and assists with everything from marathons to parades to demonstrations.
The legality of a demonstration in the eyes of the law is a major consideration for activist groups. Actions taken by the police are oftentimes based on the legal status of the event being policed.
“Permits are important,” said Portland Police Department Public Information Officer Sgt. Brian Schmautz.
If a group gathers without a permit, it can proceed with the event as long as it follows Portland’s rules and regulations. It is when individuals involved in a protest step outside those parameters of the law that the police take issue with their behavior and are granted, by the city, the right to control the situation.
“Because of the direct relationship between individuals and officers, we are forced to engage reactively to different agendas,” Schmautz stated.
According to Schmautz, regardless of a group’s message or political leanings, the police are charged with the impartial application of rules and regulations in order to facilitate all legal demonstrations and ensure that those assembled abide by city, state and federal laws.
In response to claims of some protesters who feel they were cited by police for offenses such as jaywalking because they were protesters, Schmautz affirmed, “If we see someone break the law, we arrest them.”
“We (PPD) are here to make sure everyone has free access to the streets,” Schmautz said. Permit notwithstanding, “If you commit the crime, then we will arrest you.”
More information about demonstration permits can be found at http:/www.licenses.ci.portland.or.us or by calling 503-823-5141.