PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Eighteen people were arrested at a Black Lives Matter protest in Portland's Old Port on Friday night.
The group, Portland Racial Justice Congress had three major demands for Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck; acknowledge the nation-wide tensions between police officers and people of color, promise that officers would reach out and assure the people of Portland that police violence seen lately in other parts of the country would not happen here, and that officers start wearing body cameras while on duty.
Those demands were the basis of what turned a peaceful protest into a disruptive one, after 18 people were arrested for obstructing a public way, on Commercial Street. At one point, the group attempted to block a car by linking arms. They pushed against the vehicle, as it tried to drive down Commercial Street. That's when police stepped in.
Representatives from the group said police have not come out to their communities to talk about the officer-involved shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota that left two black men dead.Earlier Friday, Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck spoke to the media, saying that his department is having internal conversations about how to make sure that those types of situations do not happen here in Portland.
Representatives from the PRJC - the Portland Racial Justice Congress - say they're fearful of what may happen and that they want more of a role in overseeing police policy. Chief Sauschuck said there is a subcommittee that has been around for about 15 years.
Portland City Manager Jon Jennings released a statement Saturday morning which said "When I became city manager a little over a year ago I was very proud to begin to work with a great city staff. I honestly did not think I could be more proud until Friday night. The commitment and professionalism shown by every member of the
Portland Police Department is a tremendous example of what makes this city great. I want to thank Chief Sauschuck and all the men and women who serve our city bravely and with great sacrifice. The City administration supports our police department wholeheartedly and can never thank them enough for all they do to keep us safe," Portland City Manager Jon Jennings said in a statement Saturday morning.
Chief Sauschuck told NEWS CENTER Friday night he would be willing to have a conversation with the group of protesters about their concerns, but that no one has reached out to him.