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Protesters, police divided over who escalated Thurston protest

Police have released more details about the people arrested in the Thurston area protest Wednesday night.

Posted: Jul 30, 2020 4:15 PM
Updated: Jul 30, 2020 7:37 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. – Police have released more details about the people arrested in the Thurston area protest Wednesday night.

Black Unity staged an event at Jesse Maine Memorial Park in Thurston that night, and the protest turned into a violent confrontation with police and counter-protesters.

In a statement, Springfield Police said they arrived and put up barricades, blocking traffic to keep protesters and drivers safe. However, protesters soon tried to push through the barricades and were warned. They said the protesters “became increasingly hostile” and said multiple officers were injured.

Tyshawn Ford, a leader of Black Unity, said police were the first to cross the barricade. He said he was lunged at and dragged away. He also said he believes he was targeted for being a leader. 

“A lot of people in the Eugene/Springfield/Thurston area think this doesn’t happen where they live," Ford said. "They just see what the news shows in Portland and stuff like they, (but they) don’t think it could happen here -- but it’s real it’s very real. It can happen anywhere.”

Police said that the protestors moved the barricade, inserting themselves between the barricade and officers.

"The group started to move those barricades and place them between our personnel and our vehicles," said Sgt. David Grice with Springfield Police. "At that point there was more comments about push through, "push through the police -- we have more numbers than them," and at that point it's a safety issue for us. It's a safety issue for them if they make it down to Main Street. And that was the line in the sand and we had to hold the line."

Another protestor, Peter Stice, said there was no attempt to deescalate the situation, adding that police never told protestors why the barricade was erected.

"Police officers have to understand that it's all about deescalation," Stice said "As soon as you put on riot gear as soon as you stop communicating with quote 'agitators' that's when things can really get out of control."

He also said police were already in riot gear when he arrived, before a conflict ever erupted.

As protesters headed back to the park, they clashed with counter-protesters. Police said a counter-protester was taken into custody and an assault victim was taken to a hospital for treatment.

People from both sides told KEZI they had been punched, slapped or hit with pepper spray Wednesday night.

Grice said chemical munitions such as pepper balls and tear gas were not used. 

At about 2:30 a.m., police said protesters were outside the Springfield Municipal Jail waiting for fellow protesters to post bail. Multiple suspects vandalized jail windows with graffiti and two were arrested after driving away from the scene, they said.

The following people were arrested:

  • Jennifer Surdyk, 36, of Eugene: second-degree disorderly conduct, interfering with police and resisting arrest
  • Tyshawn Ford, 20, of Eugene: second-degree disorderly conduct, interfering with police and resisting arrest
  • Kaziah Myers, 29, of Eugene: second-degree disorderly conduct, interfering with police, resisting arrest, and harassment on a police officer
  • Victoria Ramsperger, 21, of Eugene: second-degree disorderly conduct, interfering with police, resisting arrest, and harassment on a police officer
  • Trevor Pasley, 39, of Eugene: second-degree disorderly conduct, interfering with police and resisting arrest
  • Geena Shipman, 34, of Springfield: fourth-degree assault
  • Tealeanna Lindseth, 21, of Tigard: third-degree criminal mischief
  • Gracee Brooks, 20, of Portland: third-degree criminal mischief

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