PORTLAND, Ore. – Police and protesters clashed Saturday afternoon during a march in Northeast Portland.
Police said officers arrested one protester and used pepper spray on at least 12 others when they confronted officers with wooden shields.
"A number of people got behind them and started pushing against the officers and there were bolts through the plywood," said Lt. Mike Marshan. "An aggressive move to get to a place they didn't at that point have lawful authority to be at. It's not about free speech, it's about breaking the law."
Protesters told KATU News that police pepper sprayed at least 24 people.
"They didn't have wooden shields. They had banners," said protester Nicholas Caleb. "They are out in the streets fighting for their education today and the message they got from Portland police is that political speech is going to be punished with being sprayed with pepper spray."
"People had goggles, they didn’t have wooden sticks or anything like that," said 16-year-old protester and Cleveland High School student Quetzal Brock. "There were wooden banners right in front just to protect from the police."
Brock said he was pepper sprayed by police.
"The whole time, I was completely blinded and thought I would get trampled by the crowd," said Brock. "I didn't think it would happen to me, especially at this age."
A group called Portland Action Lab organized the march called "Solidarity Against Austerity." It included some members of Occupy Portland, and several other groups.
The march started at 2 p.m. at Holladay Park in Northeast Portland. Several hundred protesters took part and an estimated 150 police officers were monitoring the march.
Police used pepper spray on marchers near the Lloyd Center at Northeast 15th and Halsey.
Police said they attempted to contact event organizers to find out if the event would be peaceful, but no one with Portland Action Lab responded.
The marchers moved south from there on Northeast 15th Avenue.
KATU's Lincoln Graves contributed to this story.
Video by Alex Milan Tracy (WARNING: Profanity)