Portland City Commissioner Hardesty: Stop setting fires

Multnomah County

The commissioner in charge of Portland Fire & Rescue releases a statement after protesters set fires in downtown.

PMG PHOTO: ZANE SPARLING – Firefighters battle a blaze set in downtown Portland late Friday.

The Portland Tribune and Pamplin Media Group’s papers are a KOIN 6 News media partner

PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty is pleading with the community to stop setting fires, including at political protests.

Hardesty, who is in charge of Portland Fire & Rescue, posted a statement on her Facebook page on Saturday, April 17, the day after protesters set multiple fires downtown following the police killing of a homeless man in Lents Park. Police said the man was shot after officers responded to calls of an armed man in the park.

In her statement, Hardesty said, “I am pleading with our community to stop lighting fires, whether it’s at a protest or a backyard fire pit. We should all be horrified that climate change is causing such dry conditions that there is a Multnomah County burn ban in mid-April. These conditions make fires of any kind especially dangerous right now. These fires are putting our firefighters and entire community in danger and they must stop.”

The man who was shot is identified as 46-year-old Robert Douglas Delgado. The officer who shot him is identified as Zachary Delong, an eight-year veteran with the Portland Police Bureau. Few other details have been officially released.

Here is Hardesty’s complete statement:

“Yesterday, a life was lost at the hands of Portland police in Lents. There are many details myself and the public are still waiting for, but a lost life is always a tragedy. Our City is in mourning. I’m closely monitoring the situation and awaiting more details before commenting further on this specific incident. I expect full transparency from all involved.

“What I can say now is that I’m tired. Tired of waking up to another police killing day after day. This week we saw video of 20-year-old Daunte Wright killed unarmed at a traffic stop by police outside Minneapolis. Then we saw footage of 13-year-old Adam Toledo shot and killed by Chicago police while he was in the process of putting his hands up as ordered. Now someone has been killed by Portland police.

“I understand the rage in our community right now. I know the feeling of trying as hard as you can to bring change to an archaic institution that seems intent on shutting out and discrediting your voice.

“However, as the Portland Fire & Rescue Commissioner, I am pleading with our community to stop lighting fires, whether it’s at a protest or a backyard fire pit. We should all be horrified that climate change is causing such dry conditions that there is a Multnomah County burn ban in mid-April. These conditions make fires of any kind especially dangerous right now. These fires are putting our firefighters and entire community in danger and they must stop.

“I’m committed to a complete rethinking of our system of community safety because this system is broken. But City Council can’t do it alone. We need the public, the Mayor and all of Council to work together on a collaborative process to get this done.”

A Portland Tribune story about the officer-involved shooting can be found here.

A Portland Tribune story about the downtown protest can be found here.

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