Portland’s police chief is pleading with Portland officials and rioters who have disrupted otherwise peaceful protests to stop the violence, suggesting that ongoing unrest does nothing to move the cause of racial justice forward, and could be actively hindering protesters’ goals.
Violence in Portland, Oregon, related to the death of George Floyd and subsequent, national anti-racism and anti-police brutality demonstrations, has largely abated after more than 65 days. But while rioters may have moved on from shooting fireworks and starting fires at a downtown federal courthouse, concerns remain that certain “anarchist” elements are still targeting Portland residents.
Wednesday night, police were called to quell an attack on a police station in a residential area of East Portland, The Daily Wire reported: “Late at night, a group of a few hundred people blocked traffic, shined green lasers at police officers, attempted to tear down protective boarding on the building, and worked to disable surveillance cameras in an attempt to conceal their alleged criminal activity.”
Portland’s police chief wants the violence to stop and said so in a meeting with media, according to local news.
“There have been some really large peaceful protests where people have come out, listened to and given speeches, marched to different parts of the city, and that has required zero police engagement,” Chief Chuck Lovell said.
“Lovell said there have been many large peaceful protests that required no police presence but the smaller offshoot actions – setting fires, breaking windows and throwing objects at police – are taking away from the larger message,” per Fox News.
“Portlanders need to send a strong message that enough is enough,” Lovell added. “This is not forwarding the goals that are going to lead to better outcomes for people of color. This movement is really powerful, but the violence has taken away from it. This is not what Portland is about. This is not what we need in our city.”
“The chief also said that directing so many officers to the downtown protests takes away from the work police need to be doing, especially as the city has seen a large increase in homicides and shootings in the past month. Police said Wednesday that there were 99 shootings in Portland last month, up from 35 in July last year,” KGW Portland noted.
“Redirecting officers to crowd control at protests leaves very few cars in the precincts to answer 911 calls. Sometimes just two or three cars,” Lovell said. “That’s the real issue.”
The Portland city government has already voted to strip the Portland Police Department of at least $15 million in funding in response to a national movement to “defund the police,” but Lovell says his department is “progressive” and that he’s making an effort, as its leader, to move the cause of racial justice forward.