The 18 individuals arrested in Friday night’s protest that blocked off a busy portion of Commercial Street in Portland for hours were mostly residents of the city in their 20s. They were among roughly 150 people demonstrating against recent police shootings of black men.

On Saturday afternoon, Portland police released a list of the names of those arrested. A 16-year-old minor was not identified. All were charged with obstructing a public way.

The Portland residents were identified as: Idman Abdul, 22; Salma Hassan, 22, Alba Briggs, 25; Mariana Angelo, 20; Sable Knapp, 26; Kennedy Johnson, 22; Caitlin Vaughan, 29; Sarah Lazar, 32; Nasreen Sheikhyousef, 25; Kennedy Barteaux, 38; Shadiyo Hussain-Ali, 23; Llewellyn Pinkerton, 21; Leah Karvette, 25; Barbara Van Derburgh, 22; and Jenessa Hayden, 23. Also arrested were Karen Lane, 50, of Lewiston and Lelia Saad, 24, South Portland. They were all released early Saturday morning from the Cumberland County Jail. The terms of their release and their court dates were not available Saturday.

The arrests came at the end of a protest by members of a group calling itself the Portland Racial Justice Congress who gathered about 6 p.m. Friday in Lincoln Park. Another group, some of whom were wearing smocks saying they were observers from the American Civil Liberties Union, also gathered at the park but otherwise wouldn’t identify themselves to reporters.

The groups then marched through the Old Port to Commercial Street at Pearl Street, where some of the protesters blocked Commercial Street by holding hands in a circle. Police cordoned off several blocks of Commercial Street and finally arrested 18 of the protesters about 10:30 p.m. After police left the scene, remaining protesters moved on to a demonstration in front of the police station on Middle Street before dispersing around 12:30 a.m. Saturday.

The protesters did not obtain a permit, unlike earlier police-shooting protests in Portland, but officials said they were not legally obligated to do so. If protesters get a permit, police said, they can work with them to make sure the demonstrators and members of the public are safe.


Police said they allowed the protest to continue until around 10 p.m. Friday out of respect for the demonstrators’ First Amendment rights.

Police Chief Michael Sauschuck said early Saturday that police made the arrests after protesters surrounded a car that was trying to exit off one of the wharfs onto Commercial Street.

He said some of the protesters were on top of the car and at that point, police determined that the situation posed a risk to protesters and others and they moved in to make the arrests.

He said the arrests were the most he could recall arising out of a single incident in 19 years in law enforcement.

The Portland Racial Justice Congress said it was protesting in part to ask Sauschuck to release a statement acknowledging police brutality against blacks and affirming that black lives matter and his department is committed to creating trusting relationships with blacks. They also called on Sauschuck to create more transparency, allow community members to take part in law enforcement oversight committees and to initiate the use of police cameras to promote safety and accountability.

Sauschuck said Friday in a news conference in reaction to the group’s demands that black lives do matter and pointed out ways for citizens to participate in the police accountability process, such as a citizen review subcommittee that has existed since 2001.


He also said that police tried to reach Idman Abdul, whose name was on an email announcing the protest and listing the demands for Sauschuck.

Sauschuck said the group’s refusal to respond to police calls earlier Friday made the possibility of a “dialogue” on the issue impossible before the protest began around 7 p.m.

Attempts by the Maine Sunday Telegram to contact Adbul were unsuccessful Saturday.

Sauschuck said he was proud of the way his officers handled the situation.

“They showed respect for the protesters, respect for their position and respect for the city,” he said.

On Saturday, top city officials released statements praising the Portland Police Department’s handling of the incident.


Mayor Ethan Strimling called the police response admirable.

“We should not underestimate the fact that while they worked toward a peaceful culmination to the protests downtown, our police and first responders continued to protect and serve the nearly 70,000 people who call Portland home. I thank all of our first responders for their service,” Strimling said.

Strimling also directed his statement to the protesters, calling their anger understandable but urging them to protest peacefully.

“I urge you to join the dialogue and work with the city and our police department to make sure your words are heard and not overshadowed by breaking laws meant to keep people safe. I understand and respect the right to protest. But we must remember that it is when we stop shouting that we hear each other best,” he said.

City Manager Jon Jennings said he was proud of the police response to the protest.

“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,” he said. “The city administration supports our police department wholeheartedly and can never thank them enough for all they do to keep us safe.”

A group of 500 people attended a vigil that went from Monument Square to the police station on July 9, and there was a city-sponsored forum Tuesday to discuss police relations. Both events followed police shooting deaths of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota and the killing of five Dallas police officers in apparent retaliation.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy contributed to this report.


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