Portland prosecutor says ‘instinct’ is to not prosecute criminals for ‘only protesting’

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PORTLAND, OR – If you think you’ve heard it all in 2020,  you haven’t.

In Portland, a prosecutor announced that his default position is not to prosecute, according to PJ Media.

Unfortunately, you read that correctly. Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt states that his position is not to prosecute and that the crimes that were committed by the rioters will be, get this, forgiven. In case you are wondering what those crimes are that he plans on forgiving, here’s a list: interfering with a police officer, disorderly conduct, criminal trespass, harassment, escape in the third degree, and riot.

You cannot make this up. 

The attacks on police officers, and resisting arrest, will be assessed based on whether police “caused” the rioters to react. As if this doesn’t get more ridiculous by the minute, Schmidt said that rioters lash out because of the crowd-control measures that police have to use.

Schmidt stated:

“The instinctive reaction of people who have been gassed repeatedly, who have been struck with kinetic projectile weapons and who have seen other protesters arrested in ways they deeply disapprove of.”

Schmidt told the Oregon Public Broadcasting that his attorneys will review all of the cases and figure out what the intent of the protester was. They will determine if their intent was to injure a police officer or resist arrest.

He goes on to announce that if, for example, assaults on police officers or resisting arrest occurred when police were doing their “jobs” or were clearing an area with tear gas, he would consider dropping the charges.

This is something we must review and wonder why it is happening.  These are areas damaged by fire, vandalism, and violent behavior.

This is not because police were called to bring order and disperse crowds. Schmidt’s insertion of his opinion that this is “instinct” is not his job. His job is to figure out if laws were broken. 

Unless he is a psychiatrist in addition to a lawyer, how can he figure out what a person’s “instinct” is?

Probable cause generally refers to the requirement in criminal law. If police have adequate reason to arrest someone relating to an alleged crime, they are doing their job. Probable cause for an arrest exists when facts and circumstances within the police officer’s knowledge would lead a reasonable person to believe that the suspect has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime.

That leaves little room for opinion.

On July 7, The Oregonian reported that the Portland Police and Multnomah County Sheriff’s deputies had filed court documents that gave a day-by-day account of their protest response over a six week period. This court document contained videos that showed the violence, and photos of damaged property and broken windows to courthouses and businesses.  

Authorities estimated the damage and repair costs to public buildings at $300,000, and to businesses at $4.8 million. Added to the total cost of damage to the city, including private businesses and looting, that estimate was $23 million in early July.

The amount of damage caused in this city and the lack of support police have is disgusting. On June 9, U.S. District Court Judge Marco A. Hernandez issued a temporary restraining order restricting Portland Police from using tear gas except if lives or public safety are at risk. 

On June 26, he amended the order, adding less-lethal weapons to the restrictions and banning the use of an ear-splitting signal, or LRAD-type devices.

Many of the daytime rallies were peaceful, but police have declared civil disturbances and riots for over two months straight as smaller groups have regularly thrown objects, broken windows, spray-painted graffiti, and targeted the Justice Center downtown, nearby buildings and businesses, and police offices in North Portland.

They have set fire to the police union building multiple times.

According to PJ Media, and as reported by Night Shift Commander Tony Passadore, the dumpster flames and a firework that landed on the precinct’s roof prompted  police to use tear gas to clear the crowd. 

One video showed a motorist exit his car and aim his handgun at the federal courthouse on Southwest Third Avenue in downtown Portland late on July 3 as innocent observers shouted, “Gun, gun, gun!”

The city filed a spreadsheet identifying 144 fires that were reported to emergency dispatch from May 29 through the morning of July 2, which were all attributed to civil unrest.

Schmidt’s message to Portland is that he welcomes civil unrest and further violence. He told reporters at a news conference that those caught by police while “only” “protesting” will not be prosecuted.

This means that, among other things, violating curfew during civil unrest will no longer be prosecuted.

This message is irresponsible to the city and its residents. This city has seen 75 or more days of riots, and this means that Schmidt is telling the rioters that they will not be held accountable for their violent behavior, their destruction of the city, and their criminal behavior.  It is apparently open season in Portland, and criminals are being rewarded with trophies.

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LET Unity

Meanwhile, as rioters destroy a city that was once popular for tourism, many black residents who ostensibly are who the rioters are doing this for in the first place, have said their voices are being drowned out by the riots.

Here’s Law Enforcement Today’s previous report on that.

For weeks on end, chaotic and often violent protests against racial injustice have topped every news outlet and social media platform. Now, black residents in Portland are speaking out as they reportedly feel silenced and drowned out by the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests.

Often, these protests start peaceful, but end up being dominated by nightly riots and violence caused by predominately white Antifa extremists. Lost in the shouting and protesting are the voices of many black Portland residents and, their feelings about the unrest are nuanced and diverse.

Some feel that the large groups of white protesters, particularly those committing vandalism, are co-opting the Black Lives Matter movement whereas others welcome white protesters because with their large numbers, they can draw greater attention to the city’s racial inequality in ways that black protesters alone cannot. 

Others strongly believe that there cannot be a Black Lives Matter movement without defunding the police. On the other hand, some have said that in a recent vote, a specialized gun violence reduction unit was cut and that is the reason why there has been a sharp spike in shootings that have devastated their community.

Most importantly, many black residents are primarily concerned that this critical opportunity for achieving racial justice in Portland’s black community might be lost.

With the many loud competing voices, and the news constantly reporting what they believe others should know, the situation has been reduced to a culture war when according to those in the community, the reality of it is much more complex.

Neil Anderson, a Black business owner said:

“It happens so much that the things we care about get hijacked and put on the back burner. And that just gets put into a big barrel with everything else. We all want the same thing, but so often we get drowned out.”

Seneca Cayson, who has helped lead peaceful gatherings in downtown Portland has mixed feelings about white demonstrators. He feels that white protesters who commit vandalism, are violent, and taunt the police are distracting from the message.

However, he also says that he recognizes they are drawing attention to racial injustice in a way he, a black man could never do.

He said:

“What the white people have is something that we don’t and that’s rights. We are fighting alongside them to be equal.”

In June, the City Council cut nearly $16 million from the Police Bureau budget. This deep budget cut shut down programs like the gun violence reduction unit, a youth services program, and it ended the presence of school resource officers in three of its school districts.

When July hit, the city saw a sharp rise in gun violence that has overwhelmingly hurt black people. There were 99 shootings, more than triple the amount from July 2019. The city has also tallied 366 non-suicide shootings already this year, compared to the 388 for all of 2019. According to Sgt. Derrick Foxworth, nearly two-thirds of the victims in July shootings were black.

A mother, Kimberly Dixon, who lost her son to gun violence back in 2013, said that the dissolution of the gun violence reduction unit has truly hurt the black community.

She said:

“You took away the expertise that was there, the relationships that were there. That connectivity is important, historical context is important. When you disbanded it, did you rebuild? This is the carnage that is left in the community.”


Over the weekend, violence erupted in downtown Portland as protesters destroyed property, lit fires, and threw harmful objects at officers, including a commercial-grade firework that injured two officers. 16 people were arrested for disorderly conduct and interfering with a peace officer. 

 

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