A crowd of 100 people wreaked havoc in downtown Portland, Oregon, this week – smashing storefront windows, lighting dumpsters on fire and causing at least $500,000 in damage – but police officers didn’t stop them.
Portland Police Bureau officials say that’s because of legislation passed by Oregon lawmakers this year, which restricts the tools they can use to confront people vandalizing buildings and causing mayhem.
“The reason that we did not intervene goes back to what we talked about last month with House Bill 2928 and the restrictions placed on us in a crowd control environment,” KOIN reports that Portland Police Lt. Jake Jensen said in a neighborhood meeting Thursday.
Residents frustrated by the latest round of destructive demonstrations Tuesday questioned whether that meant anything goes now in Portland.
“Does that mean we are now like a lawless city?” Linda Witt asked during the meeting with police. Jensen replied saying people can still face consequences later.
The legislation in question is House Bill 2928, which prohibits the use of things like pepper spray and rubber bullets for crowd control. However there is an exception – when the circumstances constitute a riot and if the officer using the chemical incapacitant reasonably believes its use is necessary to stop and prevent more destructive behavior.
Portland police say a group of about 100 anarchists caused more than $500,000 in damage to businesses and government buildings in downtown Portland Tuesday night.
KGW reported the violence broke out at the end of a memorial gathering to mark the 2-year anniversary of the killing of self-proclaimed anarchist Sean Kealiher.
In 2019, the Oregonian/OregonLive reported that Kealiher, 23, was hit by an SUV while he was leaving Cider Riot, a now-closed bar in Northeast Portland that was popular among left-wing activists.
The newspaper said gunshots were fired at the vehicle that hit Kealiher, and it was found crashed into a wall, but the driver was not located at the scene.
Kealiher was dropped off at a hospital that night. Police said he died of blunt force trauma.
No arrests have been made in connection to Kealiher’s death.
Here’s the full Portland Police Bureau release:
On October 12, 2021, at about 9:00 p.m., Central Precinct officers learned that a group had gathered in the area of Chapman Square Park, and some participants were blocking Southwest 3rd Avenue. Some fencing from the park was used to barricade the street. Some illegal aerial fireworks were set off, as well as graffiti to buildings.
At about 10:00 p.m., the group began to march. Mostly within a time span of about 10 minutes, participants broke numerous windows and bank ATMs. Officers were called to respond citywide, and all but the highest priority life safety 911 calls were left to hold so officers could be dispatched. At the same time, the group began to light garbage cans and dumpsters on fire in the street.
When resources arrived, the crowd was given direction to disperse by loudspeaker. A Mobile Field Force moved in and the crowd splintered into multiple directions.
h/t Digital mix guy