Portland Protests Will Continue for Years Unless Changes Are Made, NAACP President Warns

Protests in Portland, Oregon, could continue for years unless legislative changes to combat systemic racism are made, the president of the city's NAACP chapter has said.

Nightly protests against police brutality and racism have taken place in the city for more than 100 days since the death of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis police custody in May. They resumed at the weekend after a break prompted by smoke from the wildfires ravaging the West Coast.

Portland's NAACP president Rev. E.D. Mondainé told KATU that he was not surprised to see the return of the protests.

And he warned they could continue for years unless "extraordinarily unapologetic and deliberate actions" are taken to begin to "root out systemic racism."

"We're here and we're not going anywhere," he told the local news station, adding that Portland "has been chosen" to lead the way in the fight against racial injustice.

"Fire's not going to smoke us out. Flames are not going to smoke us out. COVID is not going to snuff us out. The time for equality and justice is upon us."

He added: "Protests can take up to two years. I hope it doesn't take us that long, but if that's what it takes then that's what it'll be. It's not going to stop."

Protesters are calling for police reform and for city officials to cut the police department's budget and redirect funds to the community.

Mondainé added that legislative changes need to be made to impact all aspects of life, from health to education.

"This is where the cries in the street need to become the cries in the boardrooms," he added.

"It's going to have to come into our classrooms, into the place of education. It's going to have to call out in the halls of justice, the halls of the state capitols, in our city halls. So, we're going to have to move the needles legislatively."

The Portland NAACP branch has been contacted for additional comment.

Mondainé's comments came after police said that around 200 people marched in a demonstration in downtown Portland on Saturday night.

The Portland Police Bureau said in a news release that some people damaged windows of businesses, including a bank, restaurant and coffee shop.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, police said they engaged the crowd to move them away from the city's Justice Center. Officers reported no violence from the crowd and didn't use force or munitions or make any arrests, police added.

Tear gas was reportedly used against protesters during demonstrations that started on Friday night and went into Saturday morning, just over a week after Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler ordered a ban on its use.

Protesters use umbrellas as protection during a dispersal at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Portland, Oregon, on September 18, 2020. Nathan Howard/Getty Images