PORTLAND, Ore. (GRESHAM OUTLOOK) — East County’s state senator blasted a “meaningless and ineffective gesture” made by the city of Portland earlier this month as violence erupted in Portland in a clash between the left and right.
“What happened last Sunday was a frightening and dangerous situation,” wrote Sen. Chris Gorsek, D-Troutdale. “This was a political decision made by city leadership, not some rogue police officers on the street.”
While Portland leaders and Mayor Ted Wheeler called for the two sides to “choose love,” things instead devolved to fireworks exploding, pepper spray and projectiles filling the air, and combatants firing paintball and airsoft guns.
The two sides, commonly known as Proud Boys and antifa, gathered on separate sides of the Willamette River at noon Sunday, Aug. 22. Ahead of the preplanned brawl, Portland leadership announced officers would not intervene or separate the opposing forces, asking people to be peaceful.
Instead the two sides fought for more than an hour along 122nd Avenue and in the parking lot of Parkrose High School on Shaver Street.
“What’s most confounding is that the mayor and police chief signaled that their officers would not attempt to control most of the problems that might arise and, that is exactly what happened,” Gorsek wrote.
Gorsek is a former Portland officer and a criminal justice educator. He said the violence was an inevitable outcome of not creating a plan to integrate changing community values with a more equitable policing model.
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“Having police officers stand back and allow such violence is the antithesis of livability,” Gorsek wrote. “City leadership is undermining what confidence citizens may have in the police bureau by not allowing them to act.”