Wheeler: Protest tactics require new responses
Mayor Ted Wheeler met with leaders of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies Friday, Jan. 8, to collaborate on new and more effective ways to combat ongoing criminal destruction by small, organized groups of people.
"The Mayor heard from partners and agreed that the actions of these small groups are different than free speech protests. They are organized criminal acts and should be treated accordingly," a statement released by Wheeler's office on Jan. 8 said.
Portland has seen months of late-night property damage inflicted by relatively small groups of people. More recently, similar violence took place in Tigard late Thursday, Jan. 7.
The statement did not name the agencies that participated in the meeting or identify any specific actions they agreed to take. Instead, it said, "The group agreed that the current tactics being used by those engaged in criminal destruction have evolved and that the response from law enforcement and other public agencies also needs to evolve."
According to the statement, the criminal tactics Portland and other cities are confronting are new. "Creating workable, effective solutions requires thoughtful and constructive collaboration across multiple agencies and stakeholders," it said.
Wheeler is committed to addressing the significant harm being caused to local businesses, their workers and the community at large, the statement said. The frequent clean-up and repair work this activity requires is pulling critical resources from COVID-19 response and recovery work, and from other community needs.
If this situation were easy to address it would have been addressed already, the statement said. Wheeler will consult with other partners who bring new and different expertise, experience and perspective to help identify new and better solutions and tools, it added.
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