Portland, OR – Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw has cancelled officers’ days off and asked the governor to consider sending the Oregon National Guard to back up police for protests being planned for Aug. 17.
Chief Outlaw has promised that Portland police officers will disperse crowds and make arrests if things become unsafe between protesters and counter protesters, The Oregonian reported.
“We will be there in mass to ensure that we can react and ensure there are quick and swift consequences,’’ the chief said. “There will be both.’’
Chief Outlaw has been under fire for letting protesters take over the city on multiple occasions as police stood by and watched.
Most recently, on June 29, eight people, including three police officers, were injured in the melee when most of the city’s streets were shut down or blocked as roving bands of antifa, clad in black and wearing hoods or helmets with black face masks, attacked police, conservative demonstrators, and at least one journalist.
Separate demonstrations led by different factions had been planned in several places in the city, but the violence and mayhem had escalated to the point where the Portland Police Bureau was forced to declare a civil disturbance and unlawful assembly mid-afternoon, The Oregonian reported.
Three people were hospitalized after being attacked by protesters who wielded pipes and bats and threw eggs and milkshakes.
During the chaos of the day, journalist Andy Ngo was attacked by a mob several times.
Ngo was filming the crowd when he was attacked from multiple directions by masked antifa and his GoPro camera was stolen.
He was able to get clear of the crowd and talk with officers, and then was transported to the emergency room for treatment.
Ngo was admitted to the hospital overnight with a “brain bleed,” according to his attorney Harmeet K. Dhillon.
Chief Outlaw’s announcement about the upcoming August event seemed to signal a swing back to taking action during protests.
No permits have been requested for protests on Aug. 17 but former Infowars staffer Joe Biggs has threatened on Facebook that “we are coming for antifa” and said more than 1,000 men including “ex special forces military groups, Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and Titans of Liberty’’ will descend on Portland, The Oregonian reported.
In response, the opposition – Rose City Antifa – has called on supporters to come “to defend Portland against far-Right attack” and “tell these far-Right and neo-Nazi groups that they are not welcome in Portland, and their search for victims on our streets will not be tolerated.’’
Chief Outlaw has vowed that whatever happens on Aug. 17, it won’t vaguely resemble what went down on June 29, The Oregonian reported.
Portland police have reached out to other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to ask for help.
The police chief has said her department is seriously understaffed and the backup is desperately needed; however, both Clackamas and Washington Counties have recently withdrawn from prior mutual aid agreements with the Portland Police Bureau.
Chief Outlaw said she intended to have a very visible police presence “to set the tone right away” for future protests.
Authorities are trying to decide whether to bring in the Oregon National Guard’s Rapid Response Teams to assist with crowd control, The Oregonian reported.
“We’d be remiss in our duties in planning if we didn’t at least consider it, given that we’ve trained with them the last few years,’’ the police chief said.
But she’s been met with opposition by elected officials who are concerned about the optics of using the National Guard and compared such a move to the May 4, 1970 shootings of unarmed students on the Kent State University campus by members of the Ohio National Guard, The Oregonian reported.
Both the chief and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler have attempted to pass new laws that would help police better control protests, but city leaders have shut them down.
The city council last fall voted against Wheeler’s proposed ordinance that would have allowed authorities to restrict the time, place, and manner of protests by groups with a history of violence in Portland, according to The Oregonian.
More recently, Chief Outlaw proposed an anti-mask law in the city and suggested that Portland police should videotape all demonstrations.
“We cannot allow people to continue to use the guise of free speech to commit a crime,’’ Chief Outlaw said when she made the suggestion in July. “A lot of people are emboldened because they know they can’t be identified.’’
The chief explained the anti-mask laws are common in other places, according to Willamette Week.
"In other states, you'll see that it's illegal to wear a mask during the commission of a crime," the chief told reporters. "If you knew that you could be easily identified, do you think you would be as inclined to commit that act of violence, or commit that crime?"
“I feel like we’re hosting, you know, these events,’’ she said, according to The Oregonian.
But much to the police chief’s chagrin, Portland lawmakers have ignored her suggestions.
“When are folks going to say, why do our police have to deal with this in the first place? Why are we spending all this money to plan on keeping these groups separated for hours?’’ Chief Outlaw asked. “We’re using taxpayer dollars to keep a fight separated, when the question should be why are they even comfortable enough to come here and fight in the first place. I think that’s a political question that needs to be answered.’’
The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon (ACLU) has little sympathy for law enforcement’s plight and said Aug. 17 will be “another test” for the Portland police, The Oregonian reported.
ACLU Interim Executive Director Jann Carson urged police to de-escalate violence and to keep their responses “proportional to what has occurred or is occurring.’’
“Law enforcement can address violence if and when it occurs,’’ Carson told The Oregonian. “Law enforcement must respond to isolated incidents of property damage, violence or other lawlessness by arresting the individuals responsible, not by breaking up a protest.’’