At around 1 p.m. on January 20, Eugene Police Mobile Response Team was monitoring a planned protest and march of approximately 100-150 people from downtown to campus. Prior to the march, Eugene Police had attempted to contact organizers to help facilitate their right to march,, but they were not receptive.
The group began to take the roadways and EPD’s MRT worked to keep them off main roadways so that regular and emergency traffic would not be impeded. At one point, MRT officers were flagged down by a person reporting damage to his vehicle by the passing protesters (case 24-00872).
The group marched into the UO’s Erb Memorial Union for speeches. Then, they walked down 15th Avenue and marched east to Villard and then from Villard to Franklin. Some of the march was on smaller roads with lower speeds. As the crowd walked on the roadway towards Franklin it became apparent they were going to walk onto Franklin Boulevard, which is a major thoroughfare connecting Eugene and Springfield and has high average speeds for vehicles. EPD’s MRT with the assistance of patrol attempted to prevent the protestors from taking over Franklin and other main roadways to prevent interference with traffic, risk to drivers and protestors, as well as impeding emergency services. The group was advised of the need for staying on the sidewalks. Some of the protesters were verbally hostile toward officers and made threats to escalate in the future, but walked west on the sidewalk along Franklin. Several bicycle protesters rode the wrong way in the bike lane and officers had to ride in the roadway against on-coming traffic to protect them.
The group made its way back through campus and arrived at 13th and Kincaid. Officers attempted to keep the crowd from taking over the W. 11th Avenue roadway, however the group outnumbered the officers available and broke through. During this, a man later identified as Franz Martin Miller, age 36, of Eugene, began pushing an officer who was on a bicycle with his bicycle. The two bicycles got entangled and once free, Miller continued to try and block the officer from performing his job. Miller was taken into custody without further incident. He was transported and lodged at Lane County Jail for Disorderly Conduct and Interfering with a Peace Officer.
Once the group was on Agate, they marched to 11th and officers guided them to head west with the flow of traffic. This worked until the crowd reached Hilyard Street, where the group again attempted to make it to Broadway. Officers used their PA to tell the crowd they were blocking traffic and needed to get on the sidewalk. A man later identified as Eric W. Howanietz, age 42, of Eugene, was encouraging the crowd to go through the officers and march to Broadway. A large part of the group followed his direction and broke through the police line while Howanietz continued to instigate the crowd. Officers developed Probable Cause for his arrest and went to take him into custody. He resisted, grabbed another protestor’s leg and fell on his stomach to keep himself attached to something so officers could not place him into handcuffs. Officers struggled with Howanietz while surrounded by people who were screaming and threatening them, creating a potentially very dangerous situation. During this, at least one person spit on an officer. Multiple officers were able to take Howanietz into custody and then transport him to the Lane County Jail on charges of Disorderly Conduct and Resisting Arrest. Admonishments were resumed and the crowd all got on the sidewalks and went west to Pearl Street. At Pearl they turned north and remained on the sidewalks until Broadway. At Broadway the reentered the roadway and went to Willamette Street where they gave a couple speeches then broke up and went home.
Eugene Police’s staffing for this included MRT, Patrol, Drone Team, and Investigations, and Central Lane 911 dispatchers.
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