Lovell on Saturday protests: 'Our goal is to keep people apart'
Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said the bureau is increasing weekend staffing ahead of planned left- and right-wing protests this Saturday.
"Our plan is to have a visible presence. At the same time it's going to be about what our resources are," Lovell said Thursday during a news conference about plans for the weekend.
Assistant Chief Chris Davis wouldn't specify the exact number of officers who would be on duty, but said the bureau canceled regular days off and anticipate having a large staff.
"We'll do a lot of regulating traffic," Davis said at the Sept. 24 news conference. "We're going to try and keep traffic moving."
The Oregon State Police and the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office have announced they will not provide personnel for crowd control because Mayor Ted Wheeler has banned the use of CS tear gas.
The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office and the Washington County Sheriff's Office previously have said they will not assist crowd control at protests because Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt has said he will not prosecute relatively minor crimes like interfering with a law enforcement officer.
Lovell said he hopes the groups won't clash. He said they are still working on making plans and will continue to do so until Saturday.
"Our goal right now is to keep people apart," Lovell said. "We can't be everywhere, we can only do the best we can do with our resources."
Organizers for one event at Delta Park announced it would start at noon Saturday, while another group has planned an event three miles away at Peninsula Park starting at the same time, police said. However, citing crowd estimates that run counter to COVID-19 guidelines, the Portland Parks and Recreation Bureau denied a permit to the Proud Boys for a rally in North Portland on Saturday.
Davis said there also was possibly a third demonstration planned for waterfront park.
"My hope is that they do not try to come together and have altercations or conflict with one another, but at the same time, we don't get to control that, but again that's our hope," Lovell said.
The police bureau is working with TriMet and the mayor's office ahead of Saturday's events.
"Across our region we have witnessed devastation and loss of life from COVID to wildfires to gun violence. It is up to all of us to make sure we do not have an event where further loss of life results," Lovell said earlier this week. "Lawful engagement in First Amendment rights is acceptable; attendance with the intent to harm or intimidate others is not appropriate or safe for anyone."
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. Their story can be found here.
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