PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -— About 15 hours after rioters broke into the building that houses the Portland Police Association offices and set a fire, a passel of community leaders and activists begged for an end to the violence that has gripped the city for nearly 2 months.
Pastor Matt Hennessee of the Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church began by “begging you to put down your need for violence and meet us so we can move forward.”
PPA President Daryl Turner gathered leaders and community activists that included Sam Sachs from the No Hate Zone, a state representative and former police officer, and Will Aitchison, who is a lawyer for the PPA but described himself as a longtime protester. They all provided different reasons for being there, but they all agreed on one thing:
The violence has to stop.
Antoinette Edwards, who retired a year ago as director of Portland’s Office of Youth Violence Intervention, also spoke.
“We need to be together,” she said. “I have 21 grandchildren. They deserve a better world than what we’re giving them. But no more of this. No more of this.”
“Picking up a brick and hurling it at a building is not a conversation. Throwing feces is not a conversation. It’s time to talk,” Aitchison said. “Much has been accomplished in the past 6 weeks if you stop and think about it. We need to sit down together and talk.”
Before taking a few questions, Turner spoke and said everyone is committed to making the changes that are needed — non-violently.
“Our community has had enough. Our business owners have had enough. Officers have had enough and Portland has had enough,” Turner said. “This is no longer about George Floyd. This is no longer about racial equity about racial justice. This is no longer about reform or the evolution of policing. This is about violence, rioting, destruction, chaos, anarchy.”
He said people are “ready, willing and more than able” to sit down and talk, then make the changes and reforms necessary.
“But we cannot do that when we are out every night, we are out with everyone that we have putting out fires, stopping violence, taking abuse, we cannot do that when we are busy doing those types of things. We are taking away valuable services from everybody in the community to be able to respond to these acts of violence and criminal activity every night.”
Turner, who has been outspoken in recent days demanding the city’s elected leaders condemn the violence, looting and destruction, again made that same demand.
“We need to de-escalate the violence,” he said. “We need to de-escalate what’s going on.”
The Saturday night riot
Shortly before 11 p.m. Saturday PPB declared a riot at the Portland Police Association.A crowd of protesters had formed around the building.
A dumpster that was used as a roadblock on N. Lombard had been overturned and set on fire as well. Then, police said via Twitter, “People have broken into the Portland Police Association office and lit the building on fire.”
The fire at the PPA building was put out a short time later, Portland police said on Twitter.
“As the crowd was dispersed, several people in the crowd were arrested and officers were able to extinguish the fire. Portland Police did not use any CS gas,” the bureau said in a statement early Sunday.
Earlier Sunday, President Donald Trump tweeted the federal agents “are trying to help Portland, not hurt it.”
At 8:42 a.m ET, Trump tweeted, “We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it. Their leadership has, for months, lost control of the anarchists and agitators. They are missing in action. We must protect Federal property, AND OUR PEOPLE. These were not merely protesters, these are the real deal!”
The administration has enlisted federal agents, including the U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group and an elite U.S. Customs and Border Protection team based on the U.S.-Mexico border, to protect federal property.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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