Democrat Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has declared a state of emergency in Portland for the first time, apparently in response to the anticipated arrival this weekend of right-wing protesters.
Left-wing protesters have staged almost nightly riots in the city for more than three months.
Brown’s order gives authority to the Oregon State Police and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office to control crowds expected on Saturday as the far-right Proud Boys are expected to rally in Portland.
This means that the Portland Police Bureau will follow the lead of those two law enforcement agencies,
Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) reported on the development.
In a press conference announcing the decision, Brown cited a pattern that has repeatedly played out in the city when far right demonstrators hold rallies to provoke counterprotesters and soon devolve into violent street brawls.
State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton said the governor’s decision would lead to a massive influx of state troopers into North Portland, starting Saturday morning.
The governor declined to give figures for how many law enforcement officers from various agencies would be coming into the city, but said she was “confident that law enforcement is adequately resourced to tackle the situation.”
“The First Amendment does not give anyone license to hurt or kill someone because of opposing political views,” Brown said. “And 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 ensure the safety of Oregonians.”
This also means that any existing bans on the use of tear gas by law enforcement agencies will be lifted.
As Breitbart News reported, Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese said on Thursday that his agency would not assist with the protest and counter-protest on Saturday, explaining that the ban on using tear gas leaves officers “with no sound tactical options” for controlling crowds.
In an email to Deputy Chief Chris Davis of the Portland Police Bureau, Reese said the two groups “have a history of violent interactions” and without tear gas they would not be able “to quickly disperse a large crowd engaged in dangerous acts of violence.”
Oregon State Police (OSP) also expressed “serious reservations” about coming to the aid of the Portland Police Bureau, citing the tear gas ban.
“If the decision (to) amend the CS gas prohibition is revisited, we are willing to discuss resource allocation,” OSP wrote in a separate email to Portland police. “OSP has used CS gas judiciously, although it is a tool we must have available for community safety, officer safety and best policing practices.”
OPB reported the Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who has consistently sided with Antifa and anarchists and was tear gassed himself when he joined a protest, supports the move.
“Having a unified command structure uniting the resources of the state, the county, and the city is a timely and appropriate response to the threat we face,” Wheeler said.
“The mayor also noted his ban on CS gas ‘remains unchanged,’” OPB reported.
We are cautioning drivers that roadways may be impacted on Saturday due to mass gathering events. This may include I-5, which is already affected due to the northbound span I-5 bridge closure. Check traffic: https://t.co/7IhtTZB5s9 Check TriMet riders at https://t.co/StbIydNXmd
— Portland Police (@PortlandPolice) September 25, 2020
Meanwhile, the Portland Police Bureau is dealing with the ongoing violence, including rioters setting the Portland Police Association Office ablaze Thursday night.
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