A police van blared a warning, telling people they risked arrest if they ventured into the street. Nichols and others stayed on the sidewalk. Laura Seeton, a 31-year-old Portlander who locked arms with Nichols, said they had nowhere to go as people in back pushed and the riot police in front shoved back.
"It was terrifying," Seeton said.
Nichols said a policewoman jabbed her in the ribs with a baton and pressed it against her throat. That made her angry.
She yelled at the officer, saying she was being mistreated. That’s when another officer shot her with pepper spray. A photo by The Oregonian’s Randy L. Rasmussen, which flashed across social media websites, shows Nichols was sprayed from a few feet away.
"It felt like my face, ears and hands were on fire," she said.
She dropped to the ground, and police yanked her into their ranks.
"She was dragged away by her hair and disappeared into the black of their uniforms," Seeton said.