Portland leaders slam protesters' attack on TV news crew
After the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict triggered a riot on Friday evening, Nov. 19, three members of the Portland City Council condemned "senseless violence" — including an attack on the press that happened that night.
"People have a right to be upset, and the right to protest," Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said in a response Saturday, Nov. 20. "Just as protesters have a right to film the police or anything occurring in public, the press has the right to film what's occurring in public."
Hardesty said she was still learning the full details of what happened "but want to make it clear that attacking or intimidating the press is never acceptable, such as what happened to a KATU crew."
She continued: "I'm thankful to see reports the crew were uninjured and want to express my appreciation to those in the media doing their job under difficult and tense circumstances."
KATU reported that several people clad in black attempted to halt their news crew from filming, then attacked a camera operator, spurring a confrontation with the TV station's security guard.
A KOIN security guard was roughed up in Portland after a reporter went to check out a supposed "autonomous zone" set up downtown in the aftermath of the August clash between Proud Boys and antifa, though the television station didn't say anything about it publicly at the time, the Tribune has learned.
Commissioner Carmen Rubio called a "robust free press" critical to the success of local government, slamming the attack on KATU as "wrong and counterproductive."
"I hope those who engage in future protests will intervene if they see anything like that happening and ensure the safety of all members of the press," she added.
Commissioner Mingus Mapps said he appreciated the journalists at KATU who were attacked and assaulted while reporting.
"Another night of senseless violence and vandalism," Mapps said in a statement. "Thank you, Portland Police Bureau and Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, for intervening before things got out of control," he said.
"To those who continue to engage in unlawful destruction and political violence, know this: you will not be remembered as heroes of a movement but as villains in the story of Portland's recovery," he added. "This cannot continue. Portland deserves better."
Not every elected official called for calm in the wake of the acquittal of Rittenhouse, who was found by a jury to be acting in self defense when he fatally shot two people and wounded a third during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year.
"NO JUSTICE NO PEACE," tweeted recently-appointed state lawmaker Andrea Valderrama, whose House District covers much of the Centennial, Wilkes, Glenfair, Mill Park and Hazelwood neighborhoods of east Portland.
White supremacist vigilante is acquitted of murder by a racist criminal justice system.— Oregon Rep. Valderrama, HD 47 (@DreaValderrama) November 19, 2021
? NO JUSTICE NO PEACE ?https://t.co/meOsvmBzWH
Mayor Ted Wheeler didn't address violence against journalists, but issued a statement on Saturday calling for an end to violence in general.
"While I support peaceful protests, I strongly condemn any acts of criminal destruction and violence. This is not advocacy to advance reforms. These actions do not reflect our values as a city," he said.
In a statement Saturday afternoon, Portland Police Association President Sgt. Aaron Schmautz said, "We cannot suffer the whim of a small, riotous mob bent on destruction. Instead, these violent actors must be held accountable."
He called for the Portland Police Bureau to be fully staffed and able to work with all "to bring solutions to the table."
KOIN 6 News journalist Joelle Jones and Portland Tribune staffer Zane Sparling contributed reporting to this article. Read the story on KOIN's website here.
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