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The City of Portland, Oregon

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6:00 pm Press Briefing - Transcript

 

 

 

Transcript:

Tina Jones:
Good evening. I'm Lieutenant Tina Jones, the Portland Police Bureau public information officer. We are here to provide updates about today's demonstration events in downtown Portland. These updates will be transcripted and posted to our website after the press conference. First, I would like to introduce to you mayor Ted Wheeler. Mayor.

Mayor Wheeler:
Thank you. Well, good evening. Thank you for being here. I'd like to start off by thanking the chief, and the men and women of the Portland Police Bureau, and all of our collaborating law enforcement partners for the very hard work that they did today. This was obviously a difficult task that they were required to do, and they performed like the professionals that I know that they are. This was a dynamic event, with demonstrators frequently moving from one part of the city to others, and that made the job even more difficult. Given the continuing movement, and the number of people involved, I'm grateful that this was largely a peaceful event. Police did an exemplary job of deescalating the situation, keeping the extremists on both sides separated for the most part, and preventing people who wanted to engage in acts of violence from confronting each other. When these events take place, we always have exactly the same goals.

Mayor Wheeler:
First, we want to protect the safety of the public. Second, we want to make sure that the city continues to function. Third, we want to protect people's rights to assembly, and to express their opinions. And fourth, and finally, we of course want to enforce the law. Based on the information that we'd been receiving over the last several weeks, we were preparing for and planning for a worst-case scenario, and I'm very pleased that at least so far this did not happen. The weeks of planning and preparation by the police, the assistance offered by our federal state and local law enforcement partners helped to uphold the overall safety of the public here in the city of Portland. City Bureaus also collaborated with our federal and our regional partners in an unprecedented manner, and I want to thank them for that. Everyone came together. And as the mayor of this great city, it's been humbling to witness that. You've heard me say it repeatedly. This is our city, this is our home. We do not tolerate violence here, and those who engage in violence will be held accountable. Thanks to the dedication and hard work of the Police Bureau and our associated law enforcement partners, we did just that. Thank you.

Tina Jones:
Thank you Mayor.

Mayor Wheeler:
Thank you.

Tina Jones:
Now I would like to introduce to you Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw.

Chief Outlaw:
Good evening.

Mayor Wheeler:
Good evening.

Chief Outlaw:
Thank you. We had two primary goals today. The first one was to keep everyone safe, including demonstrators, Portlanders, visitors, and officers. And the second was to facilitate everyone's ability to exercise their first amendment right of free speech in assembly. PPB used every available officer today to ensure that we could achieve these goals, and we called upon a number of local, state, and federal partners to help us. Those include the Bend Police Department, Clackamas County Sheriff's office, the Eugene Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Protective Service, Gresham Police Department, Lake Oswego Police Department, Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, the Oregon State Police, of course, the Portland Police Bureau, the Salem Police Department, the Toledo Police department, the University of Oregon Police, the US Marshall Service, and Washington County Sheriff's office.

Chief Outlaw:
In addition to thanking them, I also want to thank our non-law enforcement partners including the Portland public schools for their help. We spent several weeks preparing for today's events, and we are grateful for everyone who stayed focused on the mission without regard to politics, or ideologies. Our law enforcement personnel are human beings. And today was a long and arduous day. It's not over for them, and I commend their continued commitment, dedication, and professionalism. I'm proud of the work that was done today, and appreciative of the level of professionalism that was demonstrated by our officers, and all of our partners.

Chief Outlaw:
Demonstrators began to arrive downtown at approximately 8:30 this morning. Almost immediately, officers began to seize weapons. Over the course of the day, those seizures included chemical spray, bear spray, metal and wooden poles, knives, shields, and a stun gun. At around 4:15 this afternoon, the incident commander declared a civil disturbance in the area of Southwest Park, and Southwest Yamhill due to the information available at that time, including the fact that there were numerous conflicts between protestors. Overall, we estimate that there were approximately 1,200 demonstrators at the peak of the demonstrations. Our team spent many hours monitoring the various groups as they gathered, splintered, reformed, and moved throughout the downtown core and back and forth across multiple bridges to the East side of the Willamette river.

Chief Outlaw:
The disruptions were held to a very small area of downtown Portland, in the vicinity of Waterfront Park, Pioneer Courthouse Square, and along the East side of the Willamette river. We have maps to provide you to show you the areas impacted. This operation was also complicated by a number of factors. The geographic spread of the protests, the number of hours over which it developed, the fact that four different bridges were affected, and the purposeful conduct of participants. Officers that we know of at this time, it's what, a little bit after 6:15? Made at least 13 arrests. We believe these arrests allow us to hold those committing violent acts and other crimes accountable, while at the same time deterring others from acting. At this time, we know of six force events involving officers. There was one instance where an officer deployed pepper balls. The other instances involve take-downs or control against resistance.

Chief Outlaw:
Currently we know of six minor injuries related to the demonstration. These were injuries that were not caused by law enforcement personnel. Of these six, one individual was transported to a local hospital. There was a seventh person who received medical attention for an unrelated medical issue. We appreciate the Portland fire medics who were available today to provide swift medical treatment to all who needed it. We're still gathering information from our investigative teams, but currently I can tell you that these individuals that were arrested face a range of charges including disorderly conduct, interfering with police, resisting arrest, possession of a weapon in a park, and unlawful use of a weapon. We will have more details on those arrested individuals and specific charges in the coming hours. It's still very early, so please keep in mind that any information that we're providing you right now is preliminary. I ask that you hold off on making any judgments about what happened today during today's events until all of the information is available to us.

Chief Outlaw:
By way of example, earlier today, some were of the opinion that we showed bias towards a particular group. Shortly before noon, a group of demonstrators communicated to our liaisons that they wanted to leave the downtown area. At that point, we determined that it would be in the interest of everyone's safety to allow them to remove themselves from the area. We allowed them to cross the Hawthorne bridge at that time. We did not show preferential treatment, but rather facilitated a deescalation of potential conflict. While the greatest potential for conflict appears to be winding down, there's still considerable work to be done. We will continue to monitor hotspots throughout the evening to ensure that we are prepared if any demonstrators attempt to re-engage in conflict with one another.

Chief Outlaw:
Beyond that, our officers and detectives will be spending the hours and days ahead writing reports, conducting interviews, and pursuing investigations. We know that there is a possibility that assaults or other crimes occurred outside of the view of officers. In this case, we ask that if you witnessed a crime, or if you took photos or videos of crimes in progress, please share those with our investigators. Send your information or photo and video files to us at CrimeTips@PortlandOregon.Gov. CrimeTips@PortlandOregon.Gov. Thank you.

Tina Jones:
So we're able to take a few questions if anyone has them. Blair?

Blair:
So the city announced it would be closing the Hawthorne bridge yesterday. Was that part of a [inaudible 00:09:33] strategy to give the Proud Boys an exit?

Tina Jones:
The closure of the Hawthorne bridge was done for safety reasons, and the chief already covered the reason why one particular group was allowed to use the bridge for safety.

Speaker 5:
Yes. You guys brought many law enforcement officers out here today. You guys did a great job. But Joe Biggs mentioned he'll be here every month. You guys plan to do the exact same thing every month to counteract these type of demonstrations?

Tina Jones:
Every event that we learn of is different, and we make an assessment based on what information we have out there. The city of Portland in 2018 had 200 demonstrations in the downtown core area, and the vast majority of those did not require a law enforcement presence. Thank you.

Speaker 5:
One quick followup if I could. You said you disarmed protesters today as far as shields, sticks, and pepper spray, as you said. Why wasn't that done in previous demonstrations when you had forewarning that they were going to happen?

Tina Jones:
I'm not going to speak to specifics for prior demonstrations for a variety of reasons.

Mayor Wheeler:
Tina, I'd like to comment on the Joe Biggs comment. Listen, here in Portland, Oregon, we support the rights of people to assemble, and we support the rights of people to express their opinions. But when we have people like Joe Biggs from out-of-state say that they're going to come here every single month until we do whatever it is they think we should be doing, I want to give this some context. These types of demonstrations, and the kind of response that we had to put in place today cost millions of dollars. And if we're spending money here today doing this, those are resources that could go to other top priorities in this community.

Mayor Wheeler:
So, they're number one, misusing public taxpayer resources, and I hope they think about that. More importantly, I hope that he understands that in this national environment where we had some mass shootings just a little over a week ago, there is an environment of fear. That is national, it's not unique to Portland. But at a time when people are expressing hatred, at a time when people are expressing intolerance, when there's rhetoric that is aimed predominantly at women and people of color, and immigrants, it creates a sense of uncertainty and a sense of fear. And so Mr. Biggs and others saying that they're going to come here, that feeds in to that sense of fear. So I want to be very clear. We do not want him here in my city. Period.

Speaker 5:
So you'll plan to call this out next month, if he chose to arrive next month-

Mayor Wheeler:
As often as I need to.

Tina Jones:
Okay. Next question.

Jayati:
Did you have any contact with Mr. Biggs, did Mr. Biggs contact the police department or maybe Mr. Mayor before he came here? Was any contact with him-

Tina Jones:
I can answer that. Our community-

Chief Outlaw:
Do you mind introducing yourself? I haven't met everyone in the room, before you speak.

Jayati:
My name is Jayati Ramakrishnan, I'm with the Oregonian.

Chief Outlaw:
Thank you.

Tina Jones:
Thank you. So our officers with our liaison team had, prior to the event, and during the event made outreach efforts by phone, in-person, and also solicited event organizers to reach out to them in a variety of means. We are not outing, or saying exactly who we talked to, but we have made these efforts in a clear attempt to increase the safety of this event for everyone involved.

Tim:
Tim [Courtland 00:13:13], [KEW 00:13:13]. Mayor, is this a new era in policing these grueling events here in Portland, what we saw today?

Mayor Wheeler:
I don't know. As you know, the culture of protest and counter-protest has been with our city for decades. As you also know, Article 1, Section 8 of the Oregon Constitution gives individuals the most, or amongst the most expansive First Amendment rights of any state anywhere in the United States. Those rights extend beyond what is actually in the US Constitution. So there's always been that desire to defend and protect that core American value of free speech and assembly. We had over 200 demonstrations in Portland over the course of the last year, and most of them don't get any attention at all. We had a small handful that led to any violence whatsoever. Those tend to get the lion's share of the attention.

Mayor Wheeler:
So I wouldn't say it's new for us to have demonstrations in the city of Portland, but obviously in this larger national context where we are seeing increased incidents of hate speech, we're seeing increased situations where there are mass shootings, and other large scale events, we have to be mindful that there is a dynamic there. There is a sense, and I believe that to be true, that nationally we're seeing more hate speech, more intolerance, more divisiveness. And as I say, a lot of that animosity is being geared towards women, and people of color, and towards immigrants. And we are now confronting the reality that in United States, we have a rising white nationalist movement based on white supremacy in this country, and it is impacting the entire nation. But we're certainly seeing that play out here on the streets of Portland. And so we need to continue to confront that reality, that reality of the growing white nationalist movement, and white supremacy in the United States. And Portland being a very progressive community is always going to be at or near Ground Zero when it comes to this battle. That's just the reality.

Tina Jones:
One last question sir.

Dan:
Dan Spoon at Fox News. Can I find out if of the 13 people arrested, if any were from the Proud Boys or from the right-wingers that were here? And also, how many law enforcement personnel were here total today?

Tina Jones:
So that was two questions sir. The first one is, so when you're talking about arrests, we will be putting out information in a press release as soon as we're able to get it from the field about the identities of the people involved, and the charges that they are facing. The Police Bureau does not categorize people, or put them in categories based on political affiliation or otherwise. And so that is not for us to decide, and we won't be doing that. What was your second question?

Dan:
How many law enforcement personnel total worked this event?

Tina Jones:
So we had over 700 law enforcement officials working in a variety of capacities for this event. I think everybody, that's all the time we have, and we'll be pushing out more information. Please follow us on Twitter @PortlandPolice, and we will also put the video and transcripts up on our website. Thank you.