Here’s how many people had protest charges dropped in September

2020 Protests

Wildfires ended Portland's streak of nightly demonstrations, but police still arrested more than 200 people

Police use chemical irritants and crowd control munitions to disperse protesters during the 100th consecutive day of demonstrations in Portland, Ore.,
on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020. According to an officer, police responded with stronger tactics after a molotov cocktail was thrown. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Police made more than 200 arrests in connection with ongoing civil unrest in Portland during the month of September; however, about nine out of every 10 suspects have already had their charges dropped.

Officers with the Portland Police Bureau, as well as Oregon State Police, made 213 arrests in September, according to a KOIN 6 News database compiled from press releases and direct inquiries. That’s a decrease from August, which had a record 295 arrests.

The nightly protest streak ended in September, as wildfires created hazardous air quality in Portland. Several nights have seen little to no activity from demonstrators and, subsequently, no arrests. The city is arguably the calmest it has been since the first riot on May 29.

As in August, interfering with a peace officer was the most common charge demonstrators were arrested on, followed by disorderly conduct and riot. All three charges are ones the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office has decided to “presumptively decline to prosecute.” The policy is designed to “focus limited prosecution resources on violent crimes that include property damage, assaultive behavior and actions that create a risk of injury or property destruction during a mass demonstration,” according to the DA’s office.

Indeed, most suspects have had their charges dropped or dismissed, some as soon as the day after their arrest. As of October 5, charges had been dropped in around 90% of the cases stemming from September’s protest activity.

Note: Seven of the people PPB reported arresting/citing for protest-related crimes do not appear in Oregon’s online court record system. Reasons for the discrepancy could include name misspellings, delays in data entry, or a case not being referred to the DA’s office. Police also detained seven juveniles in September. Those cases are not reflected in the graphic below.

Some of the charges in the 19 cases that are still open include:

  • Assaulting a public safety officer
  • Attempted assault on a public safety officer
  • Unlawful possession of a destructive device
  • Riot
  • Arson
  • Felon in possession of body armor

The vast majority of people arrested in connection with protests (63%) have been from Portland, according to police. Only around 13% have been from outside of Oregon, according to available data.

At least 20 of the people arrested in September have been arrested in connection with previous protests. Tracy Molina, 47, has been arrested six times.

Brandon Paape, 31, and 40-year-old Peter Curtis (preferred name Tabitha Poppins) both have at least five protest-related arrests under their belts.

Simona Arteaga, 39, and Rachel Myles, 34, have both been arrested four times, according to police and court records.

As of October 6, Molina and Arteaga were the only ones with cases left open (one each). It’s unclear if they have attorneys.

Warrant for man accused of throwing Molotov

At least one person arrested at a September protest now has a warrant out for his arrest. Joseph Robert Sipe allegedly admitted to lighting a Molotov cocktail and throwing it behind a line of police officers on Sept. 23, according to court documents.

Joseph Sipe, 23, is accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail at police officers during a September 2020 protest (Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office)

Officers originally arrested Sipe on charges that included attempted murder, attempted first-degree assault, and arson. However, the more serious charges were dropped and he now only faces one count of riot and one count of possession of a destructive device.

The 23-year-old is identified in court papers as a homeless former Marine who has schizophrenia and an arrest warrant in Georgia for aggravated assault. Sipe has been unemployed for “a couple years” and food stamps are his only source of income, according to court documents.

Despite that, he managed to post $1,000 bail on Sept. 29. He was supposed to appear in court again Friday, Oct. 2, but didn’t show, according to the DA’s office. A warrant has now been issued for his arrest. KOIN 6 News reached out to his public defender for comment, but has not heard back as of Tuesday morning.

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