Pro-Palestine march in Eugene turns violent while a Portland protest organized by the Party for Socialism and Liberation urges an Israel-Hamas ceasefire.
With tensions growing around the Israeli-Hamas war, police arrested a man who fired a “splatter ball gun” into a crowd marching in support of Palestinians in Eugene, Oregon, on Oct. 21.
Protesters drew weapons in response and the Eugene Police Department (EPD) stepped in to disarm and de-escalate the tense situation.
According to EPD, approximately 200 protesters gathered near the Federal Courthouse on Oct. 21 for a “Free Palestine Rally.”
Participants carried signs with messages that called for a “ceasefire now” and urged President Joe Biden to stop “funding genocide.”
At about 3:15 p.m., the group began to march.
The incident began when the driver of a pickup stopped at an intersection, reportedly blocking the protesters. The driver, later identified as 51-year-old Jonathan James Wisbey, engaged the crowd and a verbal altercation ensued.
As police closed in on the intersection, protesters surrounded Mr. Wisbey’s pickup and slashed one of his tires.
Mr. Wisbey then exited his vehicle and shot a splatter ball into the crowd.
Similar to a paintball gun, a splatter ball gun is a toy that uses compressed air to fire water-filled gel beads.
Several protesters who were carrying handguns then drew their weapons.
Police were concerned about other armed people they had seen in the crowd, including a person with an AK-47.
EPD reported officers quickly “challenged and detained” all armed subjects and were able to “deescalate the situation and detain the individuals without further issue.”
Mr. Wisbey was arrested and lodged at Lane County Jail on charges of menacing, disorderly conduct in the second degree, and bias crime in the first degree.
No other arrests or charges were reported.
Both the University of Oregon Muslim Student Alliance and Students for Justice in Palestine immediately issued a joint statement on Instagram that they had no role in organizing the rally.