The Oregon State Police on Thursday announced they are leaving Portland, Oregon, because authorities have refused to prosecute many protesters allegedly involved in violence.
The statement: Oregon State Police are “continually reassessing our resources and the needs of our partner agencies, and at this time we are inclined to move those resources back to counties where prosecution of criminal conduct is still a priority,” spokesman Timothy Fox said in a statement.
- “Last night was our last night in Portland.”
Fox later expanded the statement to note that the state police’s agreement to protect Portland’s federal courthouse expired on Thursday.
- Officers from the force were deployed to the city two weeks ago under an agreement between Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Vice President Mike Pence to withdraw federal law enforcement officers after weeks of clashes with protesters.
According to Reuters, Fox said the state police are angry at Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt’s decision not to prosecute many people arrested during nightly clashes at the courthouse.
Schmidt on Tuesday said he will only press charges against protesters arrested for assault, theft or property damage.
- Charges of resisting arrest and assaulting a public safety officer will also be “subjected to the highest level of scrutiny” considering “the chaos of a protesting environment, especially after tear gas or other less-lethal munitions have been deployed against community members en masse,” the prosecutor said in a statement.
- Lesser charges, like rioting and disorderly conduct, will be dropped, he indicated.
- “If we leverage the full force of the criminal justice system on individuals who are peacefully protesting and demanding to be heard, we will cause irreparable harm to them individually and to our society,” Schmidt said.
Portland has seen 77 straight nights of protests against racism and policing following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
- The city’s mayor, Ted Wheeler — who pushed for the federal agents to leave, saying they saying they were the cause of continued unrest — last week acknowledged he did not expect the violence to end even as he condemned it.
- Along with Seattle and Chicago, Portland has become a poster child for nationwide racial justice protests, and for the Democratic response.
President Donald Trump has threatened to send National Guard troops to Portland if local law enforcement fails to protect the courthouse.