Wheeler: Portland preparing for days of election unrest
The Portland Police Bureau and Multnomah County Sheriff's Office are preparing for days of civil unrest following the Nov. 3 general election, Mayor Ted Wheeler said Monday.
Wheeler told the Portland Tribune that the winner of the presidential race likely will not be known on election night because so many states are increasing vote-by-mail for the first time, compared to Oregon, which has used it exclusive for decades.
"Every city in the county is preparing for it. There will probably be delays in the announcement of results. There will be glitches. But that is no excuse for anyone to engage in violence and property destruction," said Wheeler, who added that all police officers and sheriff's deputies are being called in and activated for election night and the following days.
Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell and Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese issued a joint statement last week that said their agencies are working together to prevent protest-related violence and property destruction.
"We want our community to know we are prioritizing public safety by adding resources and collaboration during this important time. We ask for the public to help us by reporting criminal activity, staying informed and engaging in lawful activities," Lovell said.
"Safe elections are critical to a healthy democracy. The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office is dedicated to ensuring community members can safely exercise their right to vote and peacefully gather to engage in free speech events," Reese said.
Recent elections, especially the 2016 election, saw significant protests and property damage. In their statement, Lovell and Reese said while they "support the exercise of the First Amendment rights to assemble and engage in free speech, engagement in criminal activity will not be tolerated." Examples of what won't be tolerated included blocking streets, blocking traffic, blocking freeways or major roads, lighting fires, vandalism, property damage, assaults and unlawful possession or use of weapons.
During a press event with the Tribune, Wheeler also said he is asking the City Council to approve nearly $1 million of additional funding for the city's graffiti cleanup and litter removal programs. The request is being made during the Fall Budget Adjustment Process, known as the Fall BMP, in City Hall. A work session on the adjustments is scheduled for Tuesday morning, Oct. 20.
"We have already stood up additional resources and partnered with SOLVE on cleanup events, but I'm going to ask the council to improve our capacity by nearly $1 million," Wheeler said.
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.