Police look to build cases against Portland vandalism suspects

Protests

The suspects are accused of damaging businesses early Thanksgiving morning

Vandals strike several businesses along SE Hawthorne Avenue in Portland November 26, 2020 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Portland Police Bureau is trying to build criminal cases against a group of people suspected of breaking windows and vandalizing businesses along Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard late last month.

The incidents happened around 1 a.m. Nov. 26 (Thanksgiving Day), when Portland police said they came across a group of people damaging more than 10 businesses along Hawthorne between Southeast 41st and 33rd avenues. Most of the graffiti referenced colonizers and capitalism.

Police arrested three adults on 10 counts of Criminal Mischief each. However, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office dropped the charges the next day citing a lack of evidence being provided to their office.

A spokesperson for the DA’s office released a statement Wednesday saying in part, “based on those initial law enforcement case referrals, we could not – at that time – initiate criminal cases and therefore referred the cases back to law enforcement for additional follow up, including evidence collection.”

Now, PPB is asking anyone with information about the alleged crimes to report it. Officers are also interested in collecting video of the incidents.

Crime Stoppers offers cash rewards up to $2,500 for information that leads to an arrest in an unsolved felony crime (first-degree Criminal Mischief is a Class C felony). Tipsters can remain anonymous.

The DA’s spokesperson said they expect the cases will be resubmitted and “rescreened for prosecution” upon completion of the investigative follow up.

District Attorney Mike Schmidt has come under fire since taking office in August. One of his first moves was to announce his office would presumptively decline to prosecute many protest-related charges. However, first-degree criminal mischief is not one of those charges.

Local police officers have made around 1,000 arrests in connection with the political unrest in Portland, but charges have been dropped or dismissed in the overwhelming majority. Earlier this fall, Schmidt told KOIN 6 News part of that was because cases have been referred to his office without enough evidence. At the time, Schmidt expressed optimism that PPB was dedicating more detectives to investigating cases where people were doing harm or damaging businesses, enabling them to prosecute more cases.

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