A protester in a gas mask near the ICE facility. Sean Bascom/PSU

Disrupt J20

The day of President Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration, Jan. 20, has been known in the Portland protest community as J20 since 2016 when former President Donald Trump was sworn in. This year, several left-wing protests occurred throughout the city starting in the early afternoon and lasting into the early morning hours. 


A group of around 200 left wing anti-fascist and Black Lives Matter protesters, mostly clad in black bloc, met at Revolution Hall in Southeast around 2 p.m. A squad of Portland Police Rapid Response team arrived on bicycles shortly after, confiscating two wooden flagpoles and unsuccessfully attempting to arrest a demonstrator. 


After officers left, police declared the gathering an unlawful assembly but did not approach the group. Undeterred, the crowd marched through the east Burnside area until deciding on the headquarters of the nearby Democratic Party of Oregon as a destination. Protesters smashed several windows and spray painted a sign and walls before moving on. Police descended on the group minutes later, making a total of eight arrests as protesters fled from the area.


A rally was held at Irving Park and in the surrounding neighborhood from 4–7 p.m. The rally at the park was led by local Black activists and union organizers, and was followed by a march through the neighborhood with chants, songs and a drumline.


At around 9 p.m., about 150 protesters gathered at Elizabeth Caruthers Park in Southwest Portland and marched to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility to protest the ongoing policies and practices of the agency.


After a few protesters spray-painted slogans on the wall of the ICE gatehouse, Federal Protective Service officers declared the gathering an unlawful assembly, exited the facility via a side entrance and used crowd control munitions including CS gas, HC smoke, less-than-lethal projectiles and concussion grenades. 


After pushing the crowd a block to the north, Portland Police Rapid Response officers arrived on bicycles and a riot van to work in concert with federal officers. The two law enforcement groups pushed the crowd through the neighborhood for several hours using heavy amounts of gas and munitions, as well as physical force, and making seven arrests.


Protesters hold banners as the crowd decides where to march next. Sean Bascom
Police spray mace directly into the eyes of an arrestee while pinning them down. Sean Bascom
Black Lives Matter protesters march east on Fremont Street. Sean Bascom
Protesters move up as federal officers cover their retreat with gas and munitions. Sean Bascom
Graffiti on the ICE facility. Sean Bascom