On Monday evening protesters gathered outside Mayor Ted Wheeler’s condo in the Pearl District, wearing party hats in mock celebration of the mayor’s birthday.
Some in the crowd broke windows and threw fireworks, starting a small fire inside a dental lobby in the bottom floor of the high-rise building below one of the mayor’s homes.
The 95th night of protest against police brutality and racial injustice ended in 19 arrests as police declared a riot. Portland police dispersed protestors out of the area so the fire could be extinguished.
Protests against police brutality were met with force; footage captured by OPB shows one officer running to tackle a protester and then appear to punch them repeatedly.
A police officer runs ahead of his line, tackles a protester, and starts punching them on the ground pic.twitter.com/gpwmMjwuWC— Sergio Olmos (@MrOlmos) September 1, 2020
When shown the video, Wheeler’s office expressed concern, but a reluctance to speak at length about it, because the incident is being investigated.
“The video is concerning, and the incident has been reported to both the Auditor’s Independent Police Review and to Internal Affairs,” said Wheeler’s interim director of communications, Tim Becker. “A thorough investigation will be conducted to determine if any policies were violated and if so what disciplinary action is appropriate.”
Portland officers appear to be making comparatively large numbers of arrests each night, despite Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt saying his office would not prosecute low-level offenses if they were committed in participation of protest.
“The presumption on a lot of these cases that are listed out there is that we won’t prosecute,” Schmidt said in early August. “But if there are egregious circumstances or something about the case that stands out, we can always choose to prosecute.”
Monday evening drew fewer than 200 protesters but police arrested 19 people. Roughly 10% of the crowd each night has been arrested over the past couple of days.
Monday night, charges primarily include non-violent offenses, including “disorderly conduct” and “interfering with a peace officer.”
In separate statements Tuesday afternoon, Wheeler and Police Chief Chuck Lovell both decried the fire and vandalism the night before.
“As I’ve stated repeatedly, the nightly violence is coming at increased cost. It is not only that occupied buildings are being targeted. Gun violence is skyrocketing. Emergency calls for service are not being answered. This is impacting the safety of our entire City and urgent action is needed,” Lovell wrote. “Our elected officials need to do their part to draw a line in the sand and to hold people accountable. The violent behavior must end.”
Wheeler echoed that in his statement: “I call on my colleagues and all Portlanders to join me in denouncing violence and to actively oppose it by finding positive ways to let your voices be heard and to bring about the changes you want to see.”
The mayor also reiterated that he does not plan to resign, as some progressive activist groups have urged.
“I was elected by you to do this job,” he wrote, “so I’m going to do it.”