Portland officials are calling for an end to protests that have led to violence, arson, arrests, allegations of police brutality and at least one fatal shooting as demonstrations have stretched on for nearly 100 nights.
Mayor Ted Wheeler in a Facebook post asked Portlanders to join him in “denouncing violence” days after a man was shot and killed Saturday as supporters of President Donald Trump clashed with protesters against police violence and racism in downtown Portland.
“Everyone deserves to feel safe in their community,” Wheeler wrote Tuesday night. “But last night saw more senseless violence in Portland.”
A fire and protests demanding Wheeler’s resignation outside his apartment building prompted the mayor to tell his neighbors that he was seeking a new place to live, according to an email seen by CNN.
Protests against racial injustice and police brutality have continued for 96 nights in Portland, with demonstrations often proceeding peacefully during the day before devolving into chaos at night. Buildings have been damaged, police and protesters have been injured and hundreds have been arrested for a variety of charges.
Wheeler’s call comes as both Oregon’s governor and state police announce they are taking more steps to ensure that people who commit violence are prosecuted.
Gov. Kate Brown has called on outside agencies to assist in cracking down on the unrest, while Oregon State Police will allow troopers responding to protests to be deputized by the US Marshals Service to make it easier to federally prosecute suspects if necessary.
‘The violent behavior must end’
Wheeler on Tuesday condemned acts that he said have ranged “from stupid, to dangerous, to criminal.”
Monday night brought the destruction of “another minority-owned, local business,” police violence and an attack on the building where he lives, he said.
Nineteen people were arrested Monday, though no one has been charged with setting a fire outside Wheeler’s home, where protesters had gathered with signs and chants demanding the mayor’s resignation.
“Arson and terrorizing families with children does nothing except steal and distract from the important message of the racial justice movement,” Wheeler said.
“The violence must stop,” he wrote. “None of this should sit well with any thinking Portlander.”
In an email to his neighbors at the condo building in the city’s Pearl District, Wheeler apologized for any damage and for any fear they experienced, calling it unfair, and said he will meet with residents, staff and police Thursday “to discuss security going forward.”
Because his presence has made living and visiting the building “unsafe and unwelcoming,” it’s best for everyone’s safety that he move and he’s already looking for a new home, Wheeler wrote.
The Portland police chief also condemned the fire and said local leaders need to do more to stop the violence.
“This is impacting the safety of our entire city, and urgent action is needed,” Chief Chuck Lovell, who has been in the position for two months, said in a statement. “Our elected officials need to do their part to draw a line in the sand and to hold people accountable.”
“Over the past several weeks, we have seen arson at occupied police precincts as well as the (Portland Police Association) office which is tucked into a residential neighborhood,” Lovell said. “Last night marked yet another escalation of the senseless violence. The families that live inside have done absolutely nothing to provoke a threat to their lives.”
Lovell added, “The violent behavior must end,”
Troopers deputized by US Marshals Service
A plan to end violence, released by Oregon’s governor Monday, has sparked criticism.
Gov. Brown announced Portland’s neighboring law enforcement agencies and Oregon State Police would help the Portland Police Bureau respond to protests, but at least three agencies said they would not be sending assistance, citing policy disagreements and a lack of political support from Portland officials for law enforcement.
The Oregon State Police plan to make it easier for suspects to be federally prosecuted by allowing troopers dealing with protest violence to be deputized by the US Marshals Service, State Police Capt. Timothy Fox told CNN on Tuesday.
“OSP has worked with the US Attorneys office to review OSP arrests for potential prosecution of criminal behavior,” Fox said in an email. “Most of OSP resources assigned to Portland have been cross deputized by the US Marshals.”
In addition to asking for more assistance from federal prosecutors and the FBI, Brown is pushing for the Multnomah County district attorney to “prosecute serious criminal offenses” and ensure there is enough jail space so suspects won’t be released early.
Brent Weisberg, spokesperson for the district attorney’s office told CNN, “We continue to prioritize public safety resources in Multnomah County by focusing on the violent crimes occurring at protests and in our community, including the recent and alarming increase in gun violence this summer.”
The district attorney announced last month that he would not be prosecuting any protesters charged with crimes that did not involve violence or property damage.
CNN’s Anna-Maja Rappard, Konstantin Toropin and Eliott C. McLaughlin contributed to this report.