Portland’s police chief slammed the mayor and other city officials Tuesday as the Oregon city prepared for its almost 100th consecutive day of protests.
Chief Chuck Lovell said gun violence is skyrocketing in Portland and some 911 calls are going unanswered.
“This is impacting the safety of our entire city and urgent action is needed. Our elected officials need to do their part to draw a line in the sand and to hold people accountable,” he said. “The violent behavior must end.”
Lovell’s comments came after rioters set fire in a building as protesters gathered near the mayor’s condominium.
“Last night marked yet another escalation of the senseless violence,” Lovell said. “The families that live inside have done absolutely nothing to provoke a threat to their lives.”
Also Monday, three area law enforcement agencies said they wouldn’t send assistance to the beleaguered city.
Though demonstrations fueled by recent incidents of police brutality are growing smaller in number, a fatal shooting over the weekend prompted Oregon’s governor to call on outside agencies for assistance in quelling the unrest.
“We are not going to be sending personnel to Portland,” Gresham Police Department spokesman Det. Kevin Carlson told CNN on Tuesday.
Carlson said the city has limited resources and will not be burdening Gresham taxpayers with the cost of patrolling Portland.
Gresham Police Chief Robin Sells in a statement Tuesday said the governor’s announcement “caught us by surprise.”
“Staffing in the Gresham department is down significantly,” Sells said, adding that assistance requests “would need to be evaluated in light of our current staffing constraints, as well as what type of assistance is being requested.”
Two local sheriff’s departments said Monday that they will not deploy deputies to Portland, where more than three months of demonstrations have resulted in close to 700 arrests.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf on Monday issued a stern warning to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, saying that the federal government “will have no choice but to protect our American citizens” if unrest continues.
“Due to a lack of action throughout the summer, Portland and its law-abiding residents continue to suffer from large-scale looting, arson, and vandalism – even killing,” Wolf said in a letter urging Wheeler to accept federal law enforcement assistance. “Businesses remain shuttered and Portlanders are held hostage by the daily violence that has gripped the city with no end in sight.”
Wheeler on Tuesday accused Wolf of “grandstanding.”
“Yet again, the President and his appointees refuse to take accountability for their role in the divisiveness and violence occurring around our country.”
“While I am incredibly disheartened that the president is actively working against peace and progress in our community, I am committed to doing my part as Mayor to advance racial justice and restore peace,” Wheeler added.
The mayor declined President Donald Trump’s assistance in a letter last week.
Number of protesters decline, frustration grows
Despite Gov. Kate Brown’s announcement on Sunday that three neighboring law enforcement agencies and Oregon State Police would help the Portland Police Bureau respond to the protests, the Clackamas County and Washington County sheriff’s offices said the next day that they will not send deputies.
The sheriff’s offices cited policy disagreements and a lack of political support from Portland officials for law enforcement.
Protests in the city against police brutality and racial injustice have been raging since a few days after the death of George Floyd in police custody in late May. They picked up again after the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin. On Saturday night, a clash between protesters and Trump supporters resulted in one man being fatally shot.
“Increasing law enforcement resources in Portland will not solve the nightly violence and now, murder,” Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts said. “The only way to make Portland safe again, is to support a policy that holds offenders accountable for their destruction and violence.”
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office issued a similar statement, saying it will support efforts in “indirect ways like analyzing risks associated with social media, air support, and assisting with specific criminal investigations.”
Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett said a lack of “political support for public safety, the uncertain legal landscape, the current volatility combined with intense scrutiny on use of force presents an unacceptable risk if deputies were deployed directly.”
New York Times reporter Mike Baker has been on the ground in Portland, and told CNN’s Chris Cuomo Monday that where there were once thousands of protesters in the city, this week has now seen about 150. And though police have relied less on tear gas, Baker said protesters are growing increasingly frustrated with the aggression they have felt from officers and are concerned that the weekend’s death could lead to retribution from opposing groups.
On Monday night, police declared a riot after protests erupted outside of the mayor’s home and nearly 20 people were arrested when a small fire was set in an apartment building.
A crowd gathered outside Wheeler’s residence, dancing and beating drums, in an apparent sardonic birthday celebration for the mayor, according to video from CNN affiliate KATU. Some protesters wore party hats. One carried a sign calling for Wheeler to resign.
The crowd formed about 10 p.m. local time. Windows were shattered, fires were set and some businesses burglarized, according to a Portland police statement.
Police declared an unlawful assembly just after 11 p.m. and attempted to disperse the crowd. Minutes later, officers saw “someone throw burning material through a broken window into a ground-level business in a large, occupied apartment building,” police said.
A riot was declared out of “concern that the fire could spread, causing an extreme life safety concern,” police said. When few protesters and observers moved to leave to make way for firefighters, officers used crowd control weapons to disperse the crowd. Protesters hurled rocks and paint balloons at officers, police said.
By 2 a.m. Tuesday, when most people had left the area, police said 19 people were arrested, mostly on charges of disorderly conduct and interfering with a peace officer.
Friend says man killed was good and decent
Police officials identified the man fatally shot Saturday night in downtown Portland, Oregon, amid clashes between pro-Trump groups and left-wing protesters as Aaron J. Danielson of Portland.
Police said Danielson died at the scene of a wound to the chest. He was positively identified by the Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s Office, the Portland Police Bureau announced in a statement.
The far-right group Patriot Prayer, which has previously clashed with left-wing demonstrators, mourned Danielson’s death.
“(H)e had a huge heart,” group organizer Joey Gibson said on his Facebook page. “God bless the life he lived.”
Authorities have not yet identified a suspect in Danielson’s death.
“We were like brothers,” Luke Carrillo, Danielson’s friend and business partner said. “Jay was quick-witted and funny as could be. Quick to crack a joke or offer a hug. Jay loved this community and the people within it. Jay loved being a Portlander and showing out-of-towners his chosen hometown.”
Carrillo insisted that despite rumors, Danielson was not a radical, a racist or a fascist.
Authorities have not yet identified a suspect in Danielson’s death.
The fatal shooting came after the “Trump 2020 Cruise Rally in Portland,” in which supporters of President Donald Trump gathered in cars and drove in a caravan into Portland. Video footage from CNN affiliate KOIN showed pickups with American flags, “Thin Blue Line” flags, and Trump 2020 flags.
The shooting in Portland was the second instance of deadly gun violence at a political protest in the past week. In Kenosha, Wisconsin, an armed 17-year-old “Blue Lives Matter” ssupporter allegedly killed two people and wounded a third, according to a criminal complaint. The teenager’s attorney said he acted in self-defense.
Immediate conflict between protesters
When trucks from the rally drove into Portland, Baker said, “it was clear that these folks were coming in ready for something.”
He described supporters sitting in the beds of the truck with Trump and American flags and paintball guns at the ready, paint balls fired into the crowd and pepper spray clouded the air. Some vehicles even stopped, with passengers jumping out to engage in fist fights.
Protesters engaged the trucks as well, Baker said, with some people stepping in front to block them.
Brown, a Democrat, blamed Saturday night’s violence on the caravan.
“The right-wing group Patriot Prayer and self-proclaimed militia members drove into downtown Portland last night, armed and looking for a fight,” Brown said. “Every Oregonian has the right to freely express their views without fear of deadly violence. I will not allow Patriot Prayer and armed white supremacists to bring more bloodshed to our streets.”
Justin Dunlap, who witnessed the Portland shooting and captured some of it on his Facebook live stream, said he “didn’t hear much lead up to it.”
“I heard like three seconds of yelling and saw a guy spray bear mace,” Dunlap told CNN. “The victim sprayed mace and launched it right into the other guy.”
Police arrest 29 people on Sunday night
Portland’s Police Association issued a statement Monday calling for the city council to support a “zero tolerance policy” on protest violence.
“Saturday night a man, a human being, a person – Aaron Danielson – was killed on the streets of Portland. His race, his political affiliation, or where he was from isn’t relevant. What is important is that human life was taken on our city streets after three months of violence, assaults, rioting, and destruction of property,” Daryl Turner, president of the Portland Police Association, said in a statement.
Turner called for the council to reverse policies that limit police tactics and resources in protest situations.
Police have consistently arrested those who they say have attacked property downtown or thrown items at police.
Many protesters were wearing heavy protective gear, including helmets, gas masks, and body armor, and used shields and reflective squares to redirect lights back at the officers, the release states.
The police union on Monday said officers had been stymied by city officials.
“It is time for the Portland City Council to support Chief Lovell and the Police Bureau by imposing a zero-tolerance policy regarding protest violence, gun violence, and all other violence in the city,” the Portland Police Association said on Facebook.
“It is time for the City Council to allow the Police Bureau to use its resources to restore community safety before the city falls deeper into the sinkhole that has made Portland the subject of negative national news,” it added.
CNN’s Topher Gauk-Roger, Cheri Mossburg, Artemis Moshtaghian, Josh Campbell, Dave Alsup, Jon Passantino, Lucy Kafanoc and Anna-Maja Rappard contributed to this report.