Hundreds of protesters marched Saturday in Portland, Oregon to protest the premise of drastic cuts to crucial aspects of the federal budget, resulting in a small skirmish in which police used pepper spray to disperse marchers.
According to KATU News, police arrested one protester and sprayed several others in the standoff. Police contend that some marchers attacked officers with wooden shields, prompting the police to retaliate with pepper spray. They also said marchers did not have a permit and refused to talk with police about their intentions, a charge event organizers dispute.
The protest was organized by a collection of left-wing groups, including the Portland Action Lab and members of Occupy Portland. The group’s site stated that the demonstration’s goal was to protest potential budget cuts included in any “grand bargain” between Congressional Democrats and Republicans that they contend would most adversely affect the nation’s most vulnerable and needy citizens.
In a press release after the march, organizers blamed the police for misinterpreting banners as weapons and unnecessarily firing off pepper spray. Organizers also said an internal tally found at least two dozen marchers, including a number of high school students, had been hit by pepper spray.
“Despite police confrontations, the day of action succeeded in its aims of communicating that we do not consent to coming austerity programs,” Michel Losier of Portland Action Lab said in a statement. “The 1% must pay for the crisis that they created.”