After almost three months of relentless rioting in Portland, police have declared that they would “prefer” not to make arrests and the District Attorney confirmed he will not prosecute many of the cases.
Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said in an Oregon Live report on Tuesday that his officers “prefer not to make arrests during demonstrations” while also admitting that “some people use the gatherings as an opportunity to commit crimes.”
Lovell’s statements comes after Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt declared that his office will not prosecute thugs who commit crimes, in keeping with a new policy unveiled on Tuesday:
Members of our community have taken to the streets every night since the murder of George Floyd to express their collective grief, anger, and frustration over not just that senseless act of violence, but the countless other abuses People of Color have endured in our country throughout history. The demands for change go beyond calling for an end to police violence and encompass the need for all of us to acknowledge and address centuries of racism and oppression that are manifested in mass incarceration, economic inequality, educational disadvantages, and disparities in health care that have allowed COVID-19 to ravage our communities of color.
As prosecutors, we acknowledge the depth of emotion that motivates these demonstrations and support those who are civically engaged through peaceful protesting. We recognize that we will undermine public safety, not promote it, if we leverage the force of our criminal justice system against peaceful protestors who are demanding to be heard.
Breitbart.com reports: The document said that the following crimes will not be prosecuted:
Interference with a police officer, ORS 162.247; Disorderly conduct, ORS 166.025; Criminal trespass, ORS 164.245 and 164.255 Escape III; ORS 162.145 Harassment, when classified as a Class B misdemeanor; ORS 166.065 Riot, ORS 166.015 – Unless accompanied by a charge outside of this list.
Lovell issued a statement after the new policy was announced, which said, in part:
The Portland Police Bureau remains committed to public safety. We have said repeatedly throughout these long months that we would prefer not to make arrests at all. In fact, people regularly meet to demonstrate all over Portland with no police interaction. Over the last several months, we’ve seen thousands gather in awesome displays of peaceful assembly.
The goal for the Portland Police Bureau is to maintain the peace and promote public safety. As DA Schmidt said today, his policy does not change the law, nor does it say his office will tolerate damage to property or deliberate violence against police or anyone else. When police make arrests, they are based on probable cause that a crime has been committed. Committing a crime is different from demonstrating. Some people use the gatherings as an opportunity to commit crimes. The arrests we make often come after hours of damage to private property, disruption of public transit and traffic on public streets, thefts from small businesses, arson, burglary, attacks on members of the community, and attacks against police officers.
As always, whether the District Attorney decides to charge cases we send to his office is up to him. The Portland Police Bureau will continue to do the job the community expects of us, and will continue to reach out to all people to connect and build trusting relationships. One of those relationships is with the District Attorney, and we will continue to work with that office in the interest of public safety.
Lovell concluded by stating he is proud to be the chief of police officers who “put themselves in harm’s way daily as public servants.”