PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A chaotic weekend of confrontation betweeen protesters and law enforcement in downtown Portland brought more concern about tear gas used to disperse the crowd.
A week ago Gov. Kate Brown signed a law banning the use of tear gas except after a riot is declared, and officers are supposed to let protesters know it’s about to be used. This law and a recent temporary restraining order do not ban the use of tear gas, only limits it to certain circumstances.
CS gas can be used if lives or public safety is at risk. And the new Oregon law does not apply to any federal law enforcement officers who were at the Hatfield Federal Courthouse — and did use tear gas.
The activist group Don’t Shoot Portland has asked a judge to hold the City of Portland in contempt for violating the restraining order. Portland police officials won’t talk about the use of tear gas now that it’s being argued in court.
“We have to be able to use tactics and strategy with the goal of promoting life safety and trying to keep things safe,” PPB Lt. Tina Jones told KOIN 6 News. “Property damage is always going to be secondary to life safety.”
Meanwhile, there is growing dissension between city and state leaders over how to handle the ongoing clashes between protesters and police.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler was not available for comment on Monday, but his office is working on what to do about downtown Portland as so many businesses are shut down from the nightly damage.