Gov. Brown may intercede in inter-agency feud between Portland police, state police, during weekend of expected violence
Oregon State Police earlier this week said they would not support Portland Police this Saturday, Sept. 26, if violence ensues between far-right-wing Proud Boys and left-wing counter-protesters.
But Gov. Kate Brown may have other ideas.
She plans to hold a press conference at 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 25, to discuss a law enforcement plan involving city, county and state resources, aimed at keeping the peace and protecting free speech in Portland this weekend.
Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese also had said his forces wouldn't back up Portland Police this weekend.
The multi-agency standoff comes from Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler's executive decision to ban the use of tear gas by Portland Police. During a summer of almost nightly confrontations, tear gas was deployed regularly against violent and peaceful protesters alike. Scenes of the gas wafting through residential neighborhoods in East Portland drew sharp condemnation from many residents.
The right-wing Proud Boys have announced a rally in Delta Park while left-wing activists have scheduled a counter-protest in Peninsula Park. Although the two location are three miles apart, the two sides have a history of repeatedly coming together and fighting.
In a Tuesday email to Deputy Portland Police Chief Davis, Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton said his agency has "some serious reservations on your request relating to crowd control," specifically related to the ban on CS gas.
"If the decision (to) amend the CS gas prohibition is revisited, we are willing to discuss resource allocation. OSP has used CS gas judiciously, although it is a tool we must have available for community safety, officer safety and best policing practices," Hampton's email said.
Sheriff Reese also has told Davis that no deputies will be assigned to assist with crowd control because of the ban on tear gas, also known as CS gas.
In an email to Davis, Reese said the ban leaves the police "with no sound tactical options to quickly disperse a large crowd engaged in dangerous acts of violence."
"If officers have to use high levels of physical force to protect the safety of the participants, it may lead to substantial injuries and may not be effective in achieving the desired outcome," Reese wrote, adding, "Unfortunately, given the directions your team is working under, our Rapid Response Team is not available," Reese said.
The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office and Washington County Sheriff's Office have previously said they will not assist Portland police with crowd control because Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt has announced he will not prosecute protesters arrested for such relatively minor offenses as interfering with a law enforcement officer.
Wheeler has taken to Twitter and wrote an opinion column for the Tribune regarding the planned Proud Boys rally, saying, "Alt-right groups and white nationalists are intent on coming into our community. These groups empower racism, intolerance and hate. Those are not Portland values, and they are not welcome. Hate has no home in Portland."
Other members of the City Council and the Multnomah County Commission have denounced the right-wing activists, too.
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