PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Arresting protesters has not been a successful tactic to end the nightly violence, Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said during a Wednesday morning press conference.
He said over 400 people have been arrested since the protests began around 70 days ago. Although he doesn’t know when groups will stop gathering, he said of the violence “I think it’s going to be a community effort when we say enough is enough.”
Lovell also said “Having Oregon State Police here has been very helpful. It’s been less than a week since federal officers left the streets of Portland to be replaced by OSP troopers.
Addressing the recent uptick in homicides in the city, Lovell said the ongoing protests are limiting the bureau’s prevention and outreach efforts, which is contributing to the increase in shootings and homicides.
July 2020 saw 99 shootings compared to 35 in July 2019 in the City of Portland. Thirty-eight people were shot in total, with 34 of them being men. Of the 38 shot, 25 were African American, 4 were Hispanic and 9 were White.
“They know there’s not someone watching, there’s no real deterrent there, and that’s part of the issue thats causing the spike in July,” Lovell said.
The absence of the gun violence reduction team is also a contributing factor, he said. The pandemic and economy may also play a role, but “it’s hard to quantify.”
Lovell commended the officers who continue to work through the nightly protests, saying he is proud of their hard work and long hours.
A riot was declared after demonstrators gathered across Portland on Tuesday and later marched to the Portland Police Association building where some set fires and barricaded public roadways for the latest night of protests against systemic racism and police.
As the protests spilled into Wednesday morning, several shots rang out near North Mobile Avenue and then again about 15 minutes later near North Lombard Street. No one was hurt, but a car was struck. When Portland police went to investigate, the crowd that met them was hostile and no one would speak to officers about the incident.
A short time later, a group of protesters breached the doors of the Portland Police Association building. While inside, some set a fire and caused other damage — prompting the police to declare a riot around 1 a.m.
Three people were arrested on various charges: Lisa Webb, 28, faces riot, disorderly conduct and interfering with a police officer; Isaac Martin, 31,faces attempted assault of a public safety officer and interfering with a police officer; and Carlton Smith, 47, interfering with a police officer.
The pickup truck driver who drove through the crowd and a fence, dragging a motorcycle underneath the truck, “was interviewed and released without charges,” police said.
The crowd dispersed by around 3:30 a.m.
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