PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon Speaker of the House Tina Kotek fired off a letter to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler after a riot was declared in North Portland Tuesday night that laid the blame squarely on police.
A few hundred people started marching around 8 p.m from Peninsula Park, walked across I-5 and turned onto North Interstate Avenue around 9 p.m. The Portland Police Bureau declared the group an unlawful assembly when it reached the 1800 block of North Lombard Street — near the Portland Police Association building.
The situation spiraled from there. Multiple arrests were made, fireworks were launched toward officers in riot gear and protesters shouted at officers to “get out of our city.” By 10:15 p.m., police had declared the situation a riot and ordered people to leave the area as officers used tear gas.
On Wednesday afternoon, police said they arrested 29 people over the course of the night on charges ranging from disorderly conduct and riot to interfering with a police officer and assault on a public safety officer. PPB said 6 officers were hurt, some hit by rocks and full soda cans.
Kotek laid the blame for squarely on the shoulders of the Portland Police Bureau in a letter she posted on her Facebook page.
“From the reports I’ve read and from what I’ve heard from neighbors – counter to what the PPB is officially saying – there was no risk to the public or to officers until the PPB decided to declare an unlawful assembly to permit the use of and deploy crowd control devices. What needed to be protected last night? An empty office building? Was this need more important than the health of neighbors, of children in a neighborhood, of people returning home from work?”
She said declaring a riot was an abuse of that stature, which made PPBs actions unlawful. Kotek said she’s disturbed that journalists and reporters “are being targeted. These actions undermine our democracy.”
“As the Police Commissioner,” she wrote to Wheeler, “I implore you to take action to keep this from happening again.”
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