Oregon governor unveils unified law enforcement plan for Portland's violence
After three months of Portland attempting to go it alone on the handling of nightly violence, Gov. Kate Brown on Sunday released a master plan that involves city, county state and federal resources.
The goal is to stem violence while protecting free speech.
"We all must come together — elected officials, community leaders, all of us — to stop the cycle of violence," Brown said. "But this is only the first step. Real change will come from the hard work to achieve racial justice. And it starts with all of us listening to each other and working together."
The governor's unified law enforcement plan comes one day after a clash with right-wing and left-wing protesters ended with one man dead. Initial reports indicate the man may have been connected to Patriot Prayer, a right-wing group that has staged violent protests in Portland for years.
In a press conference earlier on Sunday, Aug. 30, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said he was attempting to create coalitions of leaders to address the city's three months of nightly violence.
Five hours later, it appeared just such a plan already was in the offing, though neither Wheeler nor Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt made mention of it.
Under Brown's unified law enforcement plan:
• The Multnomah County District Attorney's Office will prosecute serious criminal offenses, including arson and physical violence. Newly installed D.A. Schmidt had said he doesn't want to use his office's resources to try people facing non-violent charges.
• The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office will work with partners to hold people booked for violent behavior, and to ensure that there is adequate jail space to hold them.
• Oregon State Police will detail personnel and resources to Portland to free up the Portland Police Bureau's investigative capabilities to arrest and charge those engaging in violent acts. It was not announced how many personnel will be assigned.
State Police troopers will continue their standard practice of wearing body cameras to allow for the documentation of their activities, Brown said Sunday. Portland Police do not employ body cameras.
"We'll be able to arrest those criminals and you'll be able to have some very nice evenings in Portland." — President Trump
• Brown is asking the Clackamas and Washington County sheriff's offices and the city of Gresham Police Department to support Portland Police with personnel and resources to keep the peace and to protect free speech.
• Oregon State Police have offered more than two dozen body cameras and associated evidence management to the Portland Police Bureau, and the bureau will evaluate their use, Brown said. The city of Portland has agreed to indemnify Clackamas and Washington counties and the city of Gresham for law enforcement assistance. In addition, Mayor Wheeler will seek financial resources to reimburse these jurisdictions for their support.
• U.S. Attorney Billy Williams and the Federal Bureau of Investigation will commit additional resources for investigation of criminal activity. Again, the size and nature of those resources were not announced on Sunday.
Brown said she also will convene a community forum, including Wheeler, and invite Black protest organizers and community leaders to discuss racial justice and police reform in Portland. The group will create a venue for all community voices to come together, listen to each other, and co-create a just and peaceful future, Brown wrote.
The city was rocked on Sunday when a caravan of supporters of President Donald Trump — many of them armed — clashed with protesters on the city's highways and streets, and later downtown. One man, whom police have not yet publicly identified, was shot that evening downtown. Media reports the man was wearing a Patriot Prayer hat, was visibly armed with paint ball guns and a knife, and wore other tactical gear.
President Trump repeatedly called out Portland's nights of violence at the Republican National Convention and has subsequently tweeted about the violence here. On Sunday, he threatened to return federal troops to Portland.
Federal law enforcement stationed here in July significantly increased the levels of violence on the street. Gov. Brown subsequently brokered a deal to get the federal authorities out of town.
"The right-wing group Patriot Prayer and self-proclaimed militia members drove into downtown Portland last night, armed and looking for a fight," Brown wrote on Sunday. "Every Oregonian has the right to freely express their views without fear of deadly violence. I will not allow Patriot Prayer and armed white supremacists to bring more bloodshed to our streets.
"Time and again, from Charlottesville to Kenosha to Portland, we have seen the tragic outcome when armed right-wing vigilantes take matters into their own hands. Gun violence is never, ever the answer."
Trump slams Portland mayor again
During a Monday afternoon press conference called to condemn left-wing violence, President Trump continued his war of words with Wheeler, saying Portland's mayor was "one of the worst."
Trump told reporters that the federal government was prepared to send in National Guard troops to quell violent protests in Portland. He said federal intervention could "solve that problem in under an hour."
"We'll be able to arrest those criminals and you'll be able to have some very nice evenings in Portland," Trump said.
Trump declined to condemn actions by his supporters during Saturday's pro-Trump car caravan through downtown Portland. Some people in the caravan fired paintball guns at nearby counter protesters. Fights also broke out in the streets as the caravan passed protesters.
"Paint is not bullets," he said.
Trump slammed both Wheeler and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio as among the worst because of continued protests in Portland and New York City. "You see what's happened in New York over just a short timeframe," Trump told reporters. "I come from New York. Four years ago, when I left, there were problems under this mayor. I can't say he is the worst mayor. I have seen Portland. It's hard to top him (Wheeler)."
Reporter Kevin Harden contributed to this news story.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.