Rubio, Hardesty speak out on police response to demonstrations

Civic Affairs

Rubio calls for police response transparency and accountability following violent clashes in Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Following a pair of high-intensity clashes that unfolded on Portland streets Sunday, which involved confrontations between right-wing protesters and counterprotesters, as well as an incident involving gunfire downtown, Portland Commissioner Carmen Rubio is questioning Portland Police Bureau’s response to the unrest. 

In a prepared statement Tuesday morning, Rubio said, “The events that unfolded on Sunday surrounding the Proud Boys rally have again shown us how critical it is to have a public safety system where everyone feels safe.”

“PPB leadership made the prudent decision to have all officers on-call, but that has left us all questioning why officers did not have the clarity they needed to intervene, and why PPB leadership decided they should not intervene, to prevent violence,” Rubio said in a statement Tuesday. “The community needs transparency and accountability about these decisions. Understanding this rationale is crucial to both maintaining trust with Portlanders and to assessing the police bureau’s needs – so that we can reach our shared goal for a community safety system that respects people and keep them safe.“

In addition, Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said in part in a tweet Tuesday morning that while she is on vacation, she remains inspired by the community for fighting justice and is “disgusted by the action from this weekend.”

“I know we can do better and that’s why I am committed to continuing to advocate for reform and transformation. I’m recharging today to fight tomorrow but my heart is with my community,” Hardesty said.

On Friday, Mayor Wheeler and Portland Police Bureau Chief Chuck Lovell said additional police officers would be called in, but added that police would take a hands-off approach to the demonstrations. Police declined to release additional tactical planning details.

What unfolded included a gathering of more than a hundred people, some in tactical vests and wearing apparel associating them with the Proud Boys, at a former K-Mart parking lot in Northeast Portland early Sunday afternoon. The situation rapidly escalated later that day, with people firing paintball guns, using smoke devices, igniting fireworks and slashing tires and smashing windows on a vehicle, after someone drove a van, crashed it into the parking lot and fled, according to reporter and police reports.

Later in the evening, people were seen vacating the Northeast Portland parking lot, but clashes began to break out downtown. Left-wing organizers in all black were reportedly seen putting up street barricades and not letting vehicles pass, near Southwest Naito Parkway and Southwest Salmon St. 

Pedestrians were allowed to pass, but organizers were seen spray-painting buildings, not allowing videos or photographs to be taken, and some were seen with weapons, such as bats and spears. 

Police said two guns were fired Sunday evening as well, with one of them being captured by Portland Tribune Reporter Zane Sparling just yards away. 

More about the shootings:

Dustin Brandon Ferreira, 37, a left-wing activist, told The Oregonian/OregonLive he was with others Sunday evening when a man used a slur against a Black man in the group and then fired multiple rounds in their direction.

The Portland Police Bureau said officers followed the direction the suspect went and arrested 65-year-old Dennis G. Anderson of Gresham. Officers seized a gun from him.

According to an arrest affidavit, Anderson told police he was near Southwest Naito Parkway and Taylor Street when he was confronted by two people dressed in black, pointing guns at him, telling him to leave.

Police said Monday afternoon they found evidence that a second gun was fired during the same incident. 

More responses from officials:

“While it’s disappointing that some people chose to engage violently, I am grateful for those who exercised their rights peacefully and without committing crimes,” Chief Chuck Lovell said in a statement Sunday. “I also thank the Portland Police personnel who came into work today on their day off, and those who were responding to calls for service citywide.”

In addition, Portland Police Bureau Chief Chuck Lovell released a video statement via Twitter Monday evening.

On Monday morning, KOIN reached out to various city officials for statements following Sunday’s events.

Mayor Wheeler said in part, “With strategic planning and oversight, the Portland Police Bureau and I mitigated confrontation between the two events and minimized the impact of the weekend’s events to Portlanders. In the past, these same groups have clashed with extremely violent and destructive results. This time, violence was contained to the groups of people who chose to engage in violence toward each other. The community at large was not harmed and the broader public was protected. Property damage was minimal.”

City Commissioner Mingus Mapps’ office replied by saying, “Chief Lovell was clear when he stated that Portland Police would not be refereeing the extremist circus every time it comes to town. The Portland Police did intervene and arrest an active shooter yesterday, who appeared to be targeting counter-protesters. I want to thank our public safety staff for keeping Portlanders safe yesterday. We expect the police department to follow up and make arrests for vandalism and violence.”

City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty’s office told KOIN they do not have a comment at this time.

Multnomah County DA Mike Schmidt said: “Our community saw acts of hate and violence yesterday, which will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Yet, we saw more people stand up to denounce those acts than perpetrate them. We must continue to rise above.”

You can read Commissioner Carmen Rubio’s entire statement below:

“The events that unfolded on Sunday surrounding the Proud Boys rally have again shown us how critical it is to have a public safety system where everyone feels safe. PPB leadership made the prudent decision to have all officers on-call, but that has left us all questioning why officers did not have the clarity they needed to intervene, and why PPB leadership decided they should not intervene, to prevent violence. The community needs transparency and accountability about these decisions. Understanding this rationale is crucial to both maintaining trust with Portlanders and to assessing the police bureau’s needs – so that we can reach our shared goal for a community safety system that respects people and keep them safe. In our current environment, every decision should move us toward this end. I’m committed to working with my colleagues to achieve a transparent, accountable system while also ensuring we are investing to keep communities safe. These elements are not mutually exclusive, and all are necessary to building Portlanders’ trust in our public safety system.”

Opposing groups clashed outside of the Justice Center area on Aug. 22, 2020, which resulted in a federally declared unlawful assembly in Terry Schrunk Plaza after hours of dueling demonstrations. A week later, a right-wing protester was shot and killed near clashes between supporters of former President Donald Trump and protesters during a “Trump 2020 Cruise Rally” in downtown Portland.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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