PORTLAND — A woman driving a Prius with “press” written on the side had her car tires slashed and rear window shattered by Portland police as she tried to leave the scene of a heated weekend demonstration on the city’s east side, according to the woman and videos of the encounter.
Zippy Lomax, 44, said Monday she still feels traumatized nearly two days after police in riot gear smashed up the Toyota in the middle of a residential street after they declared a disturbance and tried to clear the area.
“I could not stop crying yesterday,” said Lomax, who has photographed and livestreamed Portland’s protests against racial injustice almost every night since they began at the end of May. “I was actually terrified for my life.”
Police said they believed the car was “a hazard.”
Lomax was among several hundred people Saturday night who marched from Laurelhurst Park to the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office on East Burnside Street near 47th Avenue.
Lomax, who said that she is partially disabled from a spine injury and has trouble staying on her feet, followed the throng in her car and parked near the Penumbra Kelly building.
The word “press” appeared written several places in large letters on her Prius, including its rear window, along with messages in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I have a clear bias. I’m not an objective neutral observer,” she said. “But I think that’s OK. I’m upfront about it to those who follow my work. I can still be out there documenting what I see.”
Portland police declared an unlawful assembly about 10 p.m. after they said some in the crowd, including those who had “press” written on their clothing, started throwing glass bottles and flashing lasers at the officers stationed outside the sheriff’s office.
Lomax, who had retreated to her car and said she was trying to leave, soon found herself caught up in the fray as officers began to disperse the crowd, pushing demonstrators west along Burnside.
Video shows Lomax’s car slowly moving among the scrum of police and protesters, hazard lights flashing. The Prius follows those on the street as they make a left south onto Southeast 44th Avenue.
A group of police then surround the Prius and can be heard pounding on her car with batons before it comes to a complete stop, according to two videos reviewed by The Oregonian/OregonLive.
“They banged on my window and I completely stopped,” said Lomax. “I placed my hands on the steering wheel.”
That’s when the police attacked her car, she said. The sound of air hissing from tires and glass shattering can be heard in the two videos. The police then immediately moved away from the Prius.
“They hit my rear window so hard glass ended up in my dashboard and on my lap,” Lomax said. “They were angry. I honestly felt they were taking out their frustration on me.”
A statement released by the Portland Police Bureau on Sunday said: “A person moved a car slowly in front of police, interfering with their attempts to safely move people out of the road. To remove the hazard the car presented, Portland Police deflated its tires and passed it by.”
Lt. Tina Jones, a police spokeswoman, said Monday the bureau had no additional information or comment to offer about the episode.
Lomax said she was no threat and had allowed enough room for an SUV to move around her car. “What was the point of shattering my rear windshield? That was purely to terrorize to me,” she said.
While Lomax said it might be a few days, she will soon return to covering the protests.
“I’m going to be back out there doing what I’m doing because I think it’s crucial,” she said.
“I never thought I’d say this,” Lomax continued. “But the feds were way better.”