PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In her first public comments since the latest protests roiled downtown Portland, Police Chief Danielle Outlaw defended her officers, the mayor and their response to the near-riot that drew national attention.
Standing at a podium at police headquarters, Outlaw began by forcefully defending Mayor Ted Wheeler. Refuting some reports in social media, Outlaw said, “The mayor never gave us direction to stand down. Never.”
She said her officers did a really good job on Saturday “given the circumstances throughout the day” and that they “were very fluid.”
Outlaw also swatted away the social media comments that officers were “cowards” and “ran away.”
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” she said.
Many of the questions centered around the police response to the protests, but Outlaw pointed out one fact that she said hasn’t gotten as much attention.
“There were entities that planned a brawl in the city of Portland and no one seems to be upset about that,” she said. “I don’t know what they were protesting because they came to fight.”
She also noted she and the mayor tried last November to put in place a “time-place-manner” ordinance that would help the police get ahead of these planned brawls. But “that ordinance didn’t make it through” City Council.
Though the police supports everyone’s First Amendment right of free speech, she noted it is illegal in other states to wear a mask while committing a crime.
“Wearing a mask makes it harder for us to identify” violent protesters, and said she supported legislation that would prohibit criminals from wearing masks.
“If you knew that you could be easily identified, would you be willing to commit that crime?” she asked rhetorically. “A lot of people are emboldened when they know they can cover their faces.”
On Tuesday, PPB released more photos of violent protesters they would like identified.
Police said three people were arrested — one in relation to the milkshakes and eight were treated by medics during the demonstrations.
During the protests, PPB tweeted that milkshakes with a cement mixture were among the objects being tossed by protesters. She swiped away a question about that tweet: “That’s what I mean by a shiny object.”
“We received information (from an officer at the scene that cement was an ingredient inside the milkshakes) and we put (the tweet) out in good faith in an effort to keep everyone safe.”
Outlaw said there was a public safety risk “we were entitled to share” about the cement.
Lt. Tina Jones, who introduced and ended the press conference, said there is an ongoing investigation into all the violent acts at the protests and declined to provide more specifics about individual cases.