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16 Jul, 2020 14:02

RIP ‘CLAT’? Police shut down Portland protesters’ short-lived CHAZ-style ‘autonomous zone’ (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)

RIP ‘CLAT’? Police shut down Portland protesters’ short-lived CHAZ-style ‘autonomous zone’ (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)

Portland police have brought a swift and unceremonious end to a newly-created ‘autonomous zone’ in the city, which was seen by many as an offshoot of a now-defunct protester camp in Seattle. 

Protesters camping out at the Chinook Land Autonomous Territory (CLAT) were ordered by law enforcement to leave the area on Thursday morning. Several arrests were made due to non-compliance, according to local media. 

Videos and photographs show police and federal officers clearing out the streets around Portland’s Lownsdale Square Park, the location of the short-lived ‘autonomous’ zone. The park sits across the street from the city’s federal courthouse, which has been under siege for the past several weeks by demonstrators.

In an update posted to Twitter, Portland’s police force said that the park had been vacated and would remain closed to the public until further notice. 

CLAT did not survive nearly as long as its Seattle-based predecessor, CHAZ (later renamed CHOP), which lasted for three weeks before widespread violence forced authorities to intervene. Portland demonstrators began setting up barricades and tents on Tuesday night, meaning CLAT existed for less than 48 hours. 

Footage taken at the camp on Wednesday night showed a small group of people gathering around a bonfire that had been lit at the former site of an elk statue, which was removed by the city after being severely vandalized. Protesters used the fire to torch an American flag. 

“After a series of small incidents of infighting, peace and calm has returned to #CLAT,” reported one witness on the ground.

Although it lacked many of the refinements of the Seattle protest camp, CLAP did boast a CHOP “embassy.”

Many on Twitter applauded the police for dismantling the camp before it could descend into violence and anarchy. However, others argued that the response had been too heavy-handed. A video clip shows police knocking a protester off his bicycle, purportedly after the demonstrators failed to leave the area.

Nightly skirmishes between demonstrators and law enforcement tasked with guarding the federal courthouse have become increasingly violent. In a recent altercation, a demonstrator was seen trying to hit a federal officer with a hammer, before being surrounded and arrested by law enforcement. 

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