Portland, OR – The chief of the Portland Police Bureau has called for an anti-mask law in the city as one of her initiatives toward clamping down on violent protests that have rocked the city.
“Every demonstration we’ve responded to is reactionary,'' Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw said at a press conference on Wednesday, according to The Oregonian.
"We need strategic resources to get ahead of this before it starts so it’s not even allowed to happen in the first place," she said.
“We cannot allow people to continue to use the guise of free speech to commit a crime,’’ Chief Outlaw said. “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?"
On Saturday, black-masked antifa attacked civilians, police, and at least one journalist as they marched through downtown Portland.
Multiple citizens and police officers were injured and three people were arrested during violent protests that took over the city on June 29.
Protesters threw eggs, milkshakes, and other projectiles at the police officers tasked with keeping peace during the demonstrations.
Police said some of the milkshakes that were thrown contained “a substance similar to quick-drying cement,” The Oregonian reported.
Quick-drying cement can cause chemical burns, even after it's washed off.
Officers in crowd-control gear lined up to shut down passage on street and police ordered the crowd to disperse through a loudspeaker and threatened to use crowd control tactics on those who did not leave.
During the chaos of the day, journalist Andy Ngo was attacked by a mob several times.
Medics at the protests treated eight people, including three police officers, for injuries, The Oregonian reported. Several people were transported to nearby hospitals for treatment of their injuries.
And elderly man was beaten by several antifa and the good Samaritan who came to his aid was attacked and needed 25 stitches in his head after the encounter.
Only three arrests resulted from the melee and Chief Outlaw and her officers have been the subject of derision by those who said the officers stood back and let antifa beat people up.
On July 1, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate and bring legal action against Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.
Chief Outlaw defended her police department amidst a flood of accusations that officers had done nothing to quell the angry crowd on Saturday, KGW reported.
“There’s a perception that they ran away from confrontation and that couldn’t be the furthest from the truth,” she said.
The chief said her officers were not under any orders from the mayor to stand down during the protests, KGW reported.
She said there would have been more injuries had Portland police not been doing their jobs.
“The chance for additional injuries was really leveraged and mitigated. Officers spent a lot of time separating parties,” Chief Outlaw said.
However, Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner released a statement following the June 29 melee which suggested officers were held back from doing more, KATU reported.
“Where are the voices condemning the lawlessness and violence?” Turner asked. “If this violence had been directed at Antifa, there would have been an immediate call for an independent, outside investigation. This is a perfect example of Portland politics at work and why our great City is now under fire in the national news.”
“The Mayor, our Police Commissioner, is not allowed to use the rank and file officers of the Portland Police Bureau as a shield to deflect Portland’s negative press nationwide,” the union leader continued. “As we have said before and will continue to say: Police officers work to uphold the Constitution, including the right to free speech. It’s our job to ensure that our community can peacefully protest without fear of violence but right now our hands are tied.”
The police chief sent a memo to her officers on July 2 that addressed the entire mess.
“These events are challenging and can take a toll on us,” Chief Outlaw wrote. “As police officers, you dutifully come to work and strive to prevent violence when you can and investigate the cases that have already happened. You do this with professionalism and you continue to do this because you care.”
“Our agency and actions are highly scrutinized, and we often hear and see negative headlines during and after these events,” she continued. “If we make arrests, some say they were the wrong individuals or that we are favoring one side. If we use force, some say it is too much and we are too aggressive. Then we also frequently hear that we have not done enough.”
“The reality is, a lot of effort and planning goes into these events and you are highly trained professionals,” the chief wrote.
She thanked all of their officers for their hard work and commitment and said their efforts were appreciated.
“In an effort to gather momentum for positive change, I will continue to bring attention to the barriers we face during these incidents to proactively prevent violence and hold those accountable who engaged in criminal acts,” Chief Outlaw promised.