PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) –– Ahead of planned protests, Governor Brown is making Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese and Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton joint incident commanders of Portland for a 48-hour period between Saturday and Sunday.
“We want the highest level of coordination as possible,” Brown said during a press conference on Friday. She said MCSO and OSP will work together with Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell and the rest of the bureau.
Lovell said the action provides them with additional resources. “Our goal is to keep people apart,” he said.
Governor Brown renewed her calls to groups to remain peaceful.
“Whether you are left wing, right wing or anything in between violence is never the answer. I am incredibly concerned about increased violence in Portland this weekend and the safety of all Oregonians,” Brown said.
“The First Amendment does not give anyone license to hurt or kill someone because of opposing political views. When free expression is fueled by hate and coupled with an intent to incite violence then I need to do everything I can as governor to assure the safety of Oregonians.”
Hampton said he will not be making tactical plans public. However, Friday night, OSP confirmed that Portland officers in the Rapid Response Team will be deputized by the US Marshals Service ahead of the demonstrations. The status will be temporary for the officers, and OSP did not have an immediate answer for how long that will be.
“Portland Officers have been serving on the front lines of nightly protests for months, sustaining injuries and encountering unspeakable violence. If I am to send them into harm’s way this weekend on my authority, I’m going to ensure they have all the protections and authority of OSP Troopers. I want violent individuals thinking about the enhanced penalties they may face if they harm a PPB officer,” said Hampton in a statement.
Hampton said OSP is not ruling out the use of CS gas. Sheriff Reese said the use of CS gas would be a last resort.
“The message from this unified leadership is clear: If you want to come to Oregon, to Portland, to peacefully protest, to assemble, to voice your outrage, to voice your concern, we welcome you for that,” OSP’s Hampton said. “If your intent is to come to Oregon to commit crimes, to provoke, to make people feel uncomfortable in their home, then we do not want you to come here and we will do our very best to interdict that criminal behavior.”
“I am confident law enforcement is adequately resourced to handle the situation,” Brown said. “Let me be very clear. Those who commit serious violent acts will be charged, prosecuted and held accountable.”
Brown said she held a virtual meeting with Oregon Speaker of the House Tina Kotek, Multnomah County Commission Chair Deborah Kafoury, Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty about using her power to put OSP and MCSO in charge of the weekend events.
She said they agreed this was the appropriate strategy for this weekend and “the mayor was supportive of that approach.”
In a statement after the press conference, Wheeler said he was “pleased that, as elected leaders responsible for the safety and wellbeing of this community, we were able to come to a collaborative solution that achieved the mutual aid resources necessary to implement the great planning work Portland Police have done to be ready for this weekend’s potential protests. The additional resources provided by the state police will go a long way to ensuring we are able to do everything possible to be ready when alt-right and white nationalist groups come to our city.”
The far-right group Proud Boys announced they would hold a rally at Delta Park in North Portland, but were denied a permit over COVID concerns. Anti-fascist groups are expected to hold a rally about 3 miles away at Peninsula Park. Both rallies are expected to begin around noon.
Police on Thursday mentioned a possible third event at Waterfront Park. But Friday they said they don’t know of any event planned at that location.
Traffic and mass transit may be disrupted throughout the day.
‘They need to stay out’
Katina Bailey lives near Delta Park in an area that’s been quiet all summer. She’s concerned that things could get violent if groups from out-of-town clash with local protesters.
“That’s what they are coming for anyway so they need to stay out of what’s going on here in Portland and protest and do whatever they are going to do wherever they are from,” she said. “Some people, I’m going to say, I feel like they just do it to get recognition.”
Bailey said she’s mainly concerned for her elderly neighbors who might be impacted.
“They are protesting for what? And we have elderly people that live here, they are sickly, elderly people, they don’t need to hear all that,” she said.
A man living in a homeless camp near Delta Park said he plans to stay back from any potential crowds and observe from a safe distance.
City officials placed concrete barriers around Delta Park to control traffic entering and leaving the area on Saturday. Officials closed the park overnight Friday. Traffic signs were also set up near the park displaying the message “hate has no place here.”
— Jennifer Dowling (@JenDowlingKoin6) September 26, 2020
When a riot broke out Wednesday night (following the decision not to charge officers with anything directly connected to the death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville) federal officers assisted Portland police to quell the rapidly escalating violence.
Both Gov. Brown and Mayor Wheeler have resisted calls from federal officials to use the National Guard to deal with the protests.
Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley issued the following joint statement about the planned rally:
“White nationalist hate groups, with their racist rants and glorification of violence, have no place in our hometown or anywhere else in America.
We will always defend the First Amendment right of peaceful demonstrations in Portland and everywhere, no matter how odious we find their views, but reject violence with equal passion in any form and any quarter.
These extremist right-wing groups planning to descend on Portland boast a message of white supremacy and have a history of inciting violence. We are proud to stand with our fellow Portlanders working as a community to respond peacefully in the face of this deliberate provocation by racists.”