PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is hopeful that demonstrators will ‘choose love’ instead of engage in violence on Sunday as opposing groups are planning to gather downtown.
“Given the behavior that we’ve seen from these groups previously, there is often the desire to come with the intent to engage in violent and fights,” Wheeler said.
The Mayor urged the crowds to remain peaceful.
“People should not expect police standing in the middle of the crowd keeping people apart. People need to keep themselves apart,” Wheeler said.
“I want to be clear no permits have been issued for these events.”
Portland Police Bureau Chief Chuck Lovell said he could not disclose details of police planning for tactical reasons, but confirmed that officers will not be in the middle of the crowd.
“My message today is simple. If you are considering coming downtown to fight, threaten people or participate in violence, stay away. If people do engage in violent activity or property destruction, they face arrest and prosecution,” Lovell said.
“Our ask is simple. We are asking you to choose love,” Wheeler said.
In a statement released Thursday, the City of Portland said groups of people may gather in Waterfront Park on Sunday and they “may choose to confront one another.” The chief of Portland police warned that people have shown up to similar events in the past with weapons.
“While the city of Portland and Police Bureau is firmly and consistently supportive of people exercising their free speech and assembly rights, we know that violence and injuries are avoidable,” said Lovell. “Our message is: those planning to come down to engage in violence, don’t come. You should not expect to see police officers standing in the middle of the crowd trying to keep people apart. People should keep themselves apart and avoid physical confrontation.”
Lovell said those who engage in violence or vandalism may be arrested and charged. The PPB plans to add resources to prepare for the possible unrest.
Daryl Turner, the executive director of the Portland Police Association, shared the following statement on Friday in response to the planned events:
“The world is heavy right now and feels more divided than ever. The political landscape and humanitarian crises across the world and within our country are distressing and overwhelming. There are so many things happening that are out of our individual control but what each of us can control is our response to the situations right in front of us.
“This weekend, people are planning demonstrations and counter-demonstrations in Portland—opposing sides looking for a fight and eager for a confrontation with each other or the police. If you are thinking about coming into Portland to instigate violence and destruction, stay home. If you are looking to fight those with whom you disagree, think again. You’re giving Portland a bad name and we don’t want you here.
“In America, liberty and freedom are among our core values. And freedom of expression is a fundamental Constitutional right. The ability to express one’s opinion and speak freely in a safe environment is essential to democracy. The role of police officers during protests and demonstrations is to uphold that right to free speech while providing a safe environment for both the participants of these events and for those simply enjoying a day in Portland. Officers do not respond to ideology or politics; officers act and respond to criminal behavior.
“Being chronically and catastrophically understaffed makes responding to the violence, disorder, and havoc expected at demonstrations while also responding to emergency calls for service citywide nearly impossible. Even when we have all-hands-on-deck, there are not enough police officers in our City to meet the public safety needs of the communities we serve.
“If you choose to participate in demonstrations, choose peaceful protest rather than disorderly conduct, violent activity, or the destruction of property. If events turn violent, leave. The outcome of these events largely depends on your actions.
“To our officers: thank you for your tireless service to our community. We appreciate your dedication and commitment to our City. This week, we’ve received countless messages of support and gratitude from Portland residents and thousands of signatures on the Protect Portland Petition. And the messages and support mean more now than ever.”
City officials advise building owners and managers to close and lock their dumpsters and secure their A-frame signs before Sunday. Dumpsters should be moved inside or to another secure location if possible as they have often been set on fire during protests or pushed into roadways.