PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announced there will be no curfew extension while addressing Monday night’s protests in a press conference on Tuesday.
Mayor Wheeler spoke alongside Portland Police Bureau Chief Jami Resch to discuss the city’s response to the demonstrations that have continued in Portland. The fourth consecutive night of protests spurred by the death of George Floyd brought what may have been the largest crowd to downtown Portland, filling Pioneer Courthouse Square and surrounding streets.
“Last night marked a significant shift in the tenor of recent demonstrations and that’s worth calling out. Thousands gathered in streets and did so peacefully,” Wheeler said in the conference. “Yes, again, there were a limited few who stayed behind to attempt to wreak havoc but they were urged in greater number by the demonstrators to stop taking away from the message of their movement and I can’t underscore the importance of that enough. It was the demonstrators themselves that set the tone for the evening — and the collective demanded peace and nonviolence.”
Wheeler announced that because of that tone set by demonstrators, which was exemplified throughout the night, he will not be imposing a curfew for Tuesday night.
“I know that if we truly want justice for George Floyd, we have a long way to go — I know that. But last night I saw a community that’s ready for both healing and reconciliation,” he said. “I saw a progressive and mindful police bureau that deeply cares to do that work. I saw progress and I am 100% confident that Portland is primed to do the difficult and important work ahead, which is why tonight I am not extending the curfew.”
It was the demonstrators themselves that set the tone for the evening —-Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, June 2, 2020
and the collective demanded peace and nonviolence.”
Organizers did their best to maintain a peaceful atmosphere and their efforts worked. By the end of the night, there were just over a dozen arrests out of thousands of demonstrators.
When Wheeler held a press conference on Monday, he and the U.S. Attorney for Oregon Billy Williams called on Governor Brown to activate the National Guard. Wheeler said he had already made the request to Brown multiple times the day before.
Brown did activate members of the guard after saying she was hesitant to bring in limited numbers of state police and National Guard, but also warned against having tired officers out with protesters. However, Wheeler was displeased by what he called the governor’s mischaracterization of his request during a talk the two had on Monday.
“I was alarmed last night by the governor’s mischaracterization of the city’s request for the National Guard,” said Wheeler in Tuesday’s conference. “I have said from the beginning that I stood in solidarity for our demonstrators fighting for justice and for reform — I stand with them. The National Guard were requested by me and the bureau for protecting buildings, not to be on the front lines directly engaging with demonstrators, that was never the case.
“We’ve been relying on our regional and local law enforcement partners for several days now. They’re exhausted. No matter how well-trained somebody is, exhaustion can take a toll on clear decision making. So when the governor said I requested that the National Guard be deployed in direct confrontation with protesters, I called her and we had a conversation about mischaracterization.”
PPB Chief Resch stepped up to the podium following Mayor Wheeler, commending the demonstrators on their peaceful protests.
“Your efforts to police yourselves created a safer environment for everyone,” she said.
Chief Resch thanked Governor Brown for deploying extra resources and went on to discuss the arrests made overnight.
“The march ended and the organizers clearly communicated that the event was over and encouraged participants to disperse. Thousands of participants left the area again without incident. About half an hour later, an estimated 100 individuals sought out officers located at barricades,” said Resch. “Some individuals began throwing projectiles including glass bottles and rocks. One officer sustained injuries and officers were required to deploy crowd control munitions to disperse them.”
Police ended up arresting over 12 people and seized two guns.
“We know work is needed to be done,” said Resch. “But we’re also committed to working with our community to find solutions and healing.”
Chief Resch told KOIN 6 she got to sit down with a few of the peaceful demonstration organizers at the central precinct to talk change.
“We got to sit down with them and have an open and honest discussion,” Resch said.
They had some ideas about different ways PPB officers cant interact with the community and suggested different people in the community in which to interact with.
“They never once mentioned hatred toward the police, they were supportive of the actions that we do honorably,” Resch said. “The majority of our community is supportive of us — for when we do the right thing — and we need to be able to hold ourselves accountable when those of us do not act in a professional manner.”
Resch also addressed rumors circulating on social media that accused the PPB of sending officers out or hiring people to infiltrate the demonstrations.
“I can tell you the police bureau has hired nobody to infiltrate any type of protests,” she said. “The individuals who were out there were there there on their own. We did have demonstration liaison officers out there, they are clearly marked. The conversations they had were the extent of our interaction with the crowd last night.”
When asked about steps moving forward in the bigger picture, Mayor Wheeler went on to say he was looking forward to fewer forums where he does all he talking and instead having more opportunities to sit down with other leaders and listen to what the community needs.
“Unless we hear the experiences directly from those who have lived them, then we can’t acknowledge them, if we can’t acknowledge them then we can’t heal the wounds and we can’t move on together as a community.”
Mayor Wheeler said there are concrete things that we must do as a city to elevate black voices, including creating spaces where we can hear directly from those in the black community. He cited various groups and committees focused on housing, economics and more that include black leaders.
“When somebody says how do you know what you’re doing is tangible, I always say look who’s around the table where the money’s being allocated, where the actual resources are being allocated into the community for specific purposed. Are those the right people around the table?”