Tumult ensued on the steps of Portland (OR) City Hall as police pepper-sprayed and arrested protesters in the aftermath of an unruly demonstration Wednesday over a newly approved contract for rank-and-file officers.
The scene devolved into a lengthy standoff, with dozens of protesters blocking traffic and light-rail trains until an estimated 75 officers in riot gear intervened.
Police had already shoved protesters out of City Hall, dousing some with pepper spray, after they disrupted a City Council hearing. Demonstrators wouldn't begin dispersing until just after 5 p.m., some eight hours after the unparalleled protest began.
The source of contention: City Council's 3-1 vote for a controversial new police contract, and Mayor Charlie Hales' unprecedented maneuvering within City Hall to conduct the vote in a meeting room cordoned off from protesters.
The contract raises officers' pay, amid a staffing shortage, and ends a contentious rule that let officers wait 48 hours to speak with internal investigators after using deadly force.
Officials said concerns over rules for body-worn cameras will be publicly vetted next year under the new mayor, Ted Wheeler. But that hasn't satisfied opponents, who also wanted expanded civilian oversight powers, the Oregonian reports.