Oregon governor deploys state police to Portland
SALEM – Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency on Friday, announcing that state troopers and sheriff’s deputies would be deployed to Portland over the weekend to assist police, observe a weekend rally by the right-wing group Proud Boys and counter-protests by left-wing groups.
Portland has been ravaged by violent protests for over three months after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis by police.
Demonstrations lulled during Oregon’s recent wildfires but began anew this week, in part as a response to a Kentucky grand jury’s decision not to indict any of the officers involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor.
Brown said she is exercising her authority to place Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese and Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton in charge of Portland’s public safety through Saturday and Sunday. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler supports the plan according to Brown.
“This is our entire community coming together to protect [itself],” Brown said. “We want the highest level of coordination and the strongest leadership possible.”
During a state of emergency, the Oregon State Police and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office will have broad authority to set curfews and close roads.
State Police Superintendent Hampton also said officers sent to Portland could use tear gas and less-lethal ammunition to disperse crowds if the situation becomes violent and citizens’ lives are in danger.
“Certainly with the use of any tool or option, we are always going to be proportional in our response,” Hampton said. “We want to do everything we can to intercede early, so we don’t have to get to a higher level of force if it’s required to keep the peace.”
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has previously banned local police from deploying tear gas.
Hampton said that the state of emergency “is in no way an indictment of our colleagues at the Portland Police Bureau for the job that they have done or would have done this weekend.”
“The Portland Police Bureau, their officers have endured some incredibly mentally and physically taxing situations for over 100 days, while they have done the best they can to keep Portland streets safe,” Hampton said.
This is not the first time State Troopers, sheriff’s deputies, and local police have worked together to combat protest-related violence, according to Hampton.
Previous demonstrations and counter demonstrations have ended with fistfights and violence, including the killing of Aaron “Jay” Danielson on Aug. 29. Danielson, a supporter of a right-wing group, was killed in Portland after a caravan a pro-Trump supporters proceeded through downtown.
The suspect, antifa supporter Michael Reinoehl, was killed in a barrage of gunfire by federal officers as they attempted to arrest him in neighboring Washington state.
Prior to the planned Proud Boys rally scheduled for Saturday, Brown said she “is incredibly concerned about the increased risk of violence in Portland this weekend and the safety of all Oregonians.”
“Some people will be armed, with others ready to harass or intimidate Oregonians,” the Democrat said. “The pattern of these particular groups is clear, to intimidate, instigate and inflame.”
Organizers have said that the Proud Boys rally will be in support President Donald Trump and the police and will condemn anti-fascists that the group accuses of being “domestic terrorists.”