Since arriving in office last summer, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt has rejected hundreds of criminal charges against people for low-level crimes committed during ongoing demonstrations.
In the midst of renewed protests and property destruction this week, his office appears to be considering refiling some of these charges — if the person has recently been arrested for a more serious crime.
Acting Portland Police Chief Chris Davis said police met with members of the district attorney’s office Thursday, who told police they were looking at refiling charges for people who have since been arrested for bigger crimes, such as breaking windows or lighting fires.
“They have told me they will reissue those previously dismissed charges when appropriate,” said Davis, noting the cases were still within the statute of limitations and could be brought back.
In a statement, Brent Weisberg, communications director for the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, said this was standard practice.
“When a case involves unusual and/or aggravating circumstances, such as multiple arrests, we may consider taking a second look at prior cases. This is not a new practice for the District Attorney’s Office.”
The acting chief’s statement came during a press conference held by Mayor Ted Wheeler in which he, once again, excoriated the nightly protesters and said the police were doing everything in their power to keep them off the streets. He did not announce new efforts to do so, but recommended Portlanders secure their trash cans as well as try to record license plates of protesters engaging in illicit activities to provide to the police.
“Our job is to unmask them, arrest them and prosecute them,” he said.
Bracing for more protests and the potential for more destruction, Wheeler also announced he would be extending the city’s state of emergency for three more nights. The declaration is now set to expire at noon on Monday.
Wheeler first declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, just minutes before the verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd last summer, sparking a months-long protest movement nationwide against police violence.
The city has seen some protests and damage downtown in the nights following the verdict, though on a much smaller scale than last summer. The mayor has since extended the declaration twice.
“An Emergency Declaration will enable the Police Bureau to effectively facilitate demonstration by allowing the bureau to make emergency procurements of food, supplies or other resources, and will allow the bureau to exercise other flexibility that is only available under an emergency declaration,” the declaration states.
The state of emergency grants the mayor temporary powers including issuing a curfew and opens the door for the Oregon State Police, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and the Oregon National Guard to assist Portland police during demonstrations. The mayor said it also allowed him to barricade the streets, though police had not yet recommended the city do so.