Poll reveals 75% of Portland residents do not support defunding the city’s police force

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PORTLAND, OR – Nearly one year since the “defund the police” movement began, a new poll has revealed that nearly 75% of Portland residents stated they do not support defunding the city’s police force. 

According to a recent poll commissioned by The Oregonian, three-fourths of Portland-area residents said that they do not want to see policing in the city dip below its current levels, with a several stating that they support an increase in police.

From April 30 to May 6, 2021, DHM Research conducted a survey of 600 residents in the Portland metro region. The survey consisted of 600 adult residents in the Portland metro region with half of them in the city of Portland.

When asked in the survey, “Do you think downtown Portland is more or less safe than it was 12 months ago?” 42% of those survey said that it is “much less safe” and only two percent stated it was “much safer.”

Fewer than a quarter of survey participants in Portland and even less among suburban residents, believe that there should be fewer police officers. This important findings coming as activists and some civic leaders in Portland continue to demand further reductions in the police force.

Survey participant Brandon Lane, 61, said that it makes sense to beef up the city’s police force amid a large spike in shootings, a homelessness and addiction crisis, and a downtown battered by a pandemic and months of destructive protests.

Lane stated:

“I’m not sure that it needs to be drastically higher,  but if we defund or reduce the headcount any further, we’re likely to be inviting bigger problems.”

Fox News reported that the poll found that in addition to 75% of respondents who disapprove of the city’s handling of the homelessness situation, 68% also stated that they are not happy with how protests and riots have been handled.

Residents surveyed about the city’s downtown said that they plan to visit less frequently, mainly citing the homelessness and rioting that has plagued the area for nearly a year.

Respondents to the poll used words like “dirty,” “trash,” “riots,” and “unsafe” to describe the heart of the city, which appears to have deteriorated during the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest of the past year.

Downtown Portland, once a cultural and tourist center, is now filled with homeless tents, smashed windows, graffiti, trash, and boarded-up businesses. 

The city has yet to quell continued destruction caused by smaller groups who go through the city purporting to demonstrate for racial justice, smashing windows, and tagging buildings in the process.

Residents also expressed frustration with the apparent lack of arrests related to the destruction. Respondent Laurie Lago, 75, who lives near where the protests have been centered, said:

“There seems in the last year to be this permission to do violence.”

In response to the survey results, Daryl Tuner, the executive director of the Portland Police Association, the union that represents the city’s rank-and-file officers, said:

“Residents want to be safe and protected and they don’t have that feeling right now.”

He added that City Council trimmed the police budget by $15 million during summer 2020. He stated:

“This message is clearly not being heard by Portland’s elected leaders, who only listen to those who talk the loudest.”

After the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office refused to file charges against many of the rioters arrested for assaulting police and destroying property during 2020, federal prosecutors stepped up at the urging of then-President Donald Trump and filed charges against 97 suspects.

However, under President Joe Biden’s administration, 58 of those cases have been deferred or outright dismissed. Felony assaults on federal officers were the nexus for 16 of the 31 deferred cases.

Seven suspects plead guilty, but reportedly, only one will serve any prison time. Former acting U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Chard Wolf, said in a statement:

“It’s offensive to all the men and women who risked their lives in Portland for 90 to 120 days or even longer in some cases, being attached night after night after night.”

In 2020, when the city cut $15 million from the Portland Police Bureau’s (PPB) budget, the move did away with school resource officers, the Gun Violence Reduction Team, and the Transit Division Program.

The Gun Violence Reduction Team was later brought back to help combat the surge in gun violence, but there was no additional funds to help support it.

In the meantime, city lawmakers dumped $6 million into adding 24 unarmed park rangers to patrol neighborhoods and parks as well as to help fund community organizations seeking to address violence in the community.

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After nearly a year of nightly riots, Portland Mayor finally calls (begs?) for ‘unmasking’ of violent protesters

April 26th, 2021

PORTLAND, OR– According to reports, Black Lives Matter and Antifa activists spoke out against Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and his call to “unmask” violent protesters. Hours after the mayor’s comments, another riot broke out in the city.

On Friday, April 23rd, Mayor Wheeler said in a statement:

“We must stand together as a community against this ongoing criminal intimidation and violence. Our job is to unmask them, arrest them, and prosecute them. People know who these criminals are.”

Within hours of the mayor’s statements, violence broke out again in Portland following a social media post calling for demonstrators to “Bloc Up.” According to reports, “Bloc Up” is a reference to the Antifa “uniform” of all black clothing, masks, and helmets. 

The social media post called for an “Autonomous Demonstration” at Couch Park in Portland and to “Bloc Up,” making it difficult for police to identify lawbreakers.

Authorities said that as demonstrators began blocking roadways, smashing windows, painting graffiti and forcing their way into a least one occupied restaurant, police declared the incident to be a riot and ordered protesters to leave. 

During Wheeler’s remarks, he extended the city’s state of emergency and directed Police Police Bureau officials to “arrest people engaged in any crimes.” He reportedly supported the police tactics of “kettling,” which refers to boxing people in. 

Wheeler and the acting police chief both urged the public to safely stand up to the black bloc violent demonstrators who continue to plan “direct actions” around the city that routinely end with shattered windows, fires, and other vandalism. 

Both stated that they believe residents are fed up with watching the threats and destruction by a small group of “self-described anarchists.” Wheeler said:

“They want to burn. They want to bash, like they did to the nonprofit Boys and Girls club in Northeast. Really they want to intimidate. They want to assault.”

He added:

“If BLM leaders can show the courage to stand up to this mob, then we all should. Make a stand and take our city back.”

According to reports, following the riot on Friday, April 23rd, one of many this month alone, Black Lives Matter activists and other “protesters and community leaders” marched on city hall to protest the mayor’s call for action.

Amber Boydston, a speaker at the protest on Saturday, April 24th, was one of dozens of black Oregonians who drafted an open letter aimed at those participating in demonstrations. The letter said, in part:

“Actions that neither increase solidarity nor broadcast purpose while making the lives of local black communities more difficult are not acceptable.”

The letter also talked about concern with police violence, but the group alleges the mayor misused those words in his call to extend the state of emergency. Protest Mac Smiff added:

“I would appreciate it if people would listen to the words that we say and read the words that we say, absorb the words that we say, think on the words that we say, but stop adding your own lends to it. Sometimes you have to be quiet and listen.”

On Monday night, April 19th, a group of about 80 people gathered in Northeast Portland and some smashed windows at the Blazers Boys & Girls Club, causing nearly $20,000 in damage to the club.

On Friday, April 16th, a large demonstration downtown erupted into a riot that left the front windows of the First Christian Church broke, anti-police messages scrawled on the exterior of the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, and windows smashed at the Oregon Historical Society.

The extended state of emergency gives the mayor the power to set a curfew, blockade streets, or call in extra officers from the Oregon State Police, and Oregon National Guard, if deemed necessary. 

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