Legislation passed in Democrat-controlled Oregon has handcuffed the police, restricting their ability to confront vandals, leading some residents to ask whether Portland has become a “lawless city.”
A 100-person protest in downtown Portland this week smashed storefront windows, lit dumpsters on fire, and caused at least $500,000 in damage, according to AP, and Portland Police Bureau officials say the Oregon law has exposed the city to that destruction.
“The reason that we did not intervene goes back to what we talked about last month with House Bill 2928 and the restrictions placed on us in a crowd control environment,” Portland Police Lt. Jake Jensen said Thursday.
House Bill 2928 prohibits the use of pepper spray and rubber bullets for crowd control. However there is an exception – when the circumstances constitute a riot and if the officer using the chemical incapacitant reasonably believes its use is necessary to stop and prevent more destructive behavior.
“The law clearly allows Portland Police to use effective tools necessary to control violent crowds; however, activist attorneys are deliberately misinterpreting legislation to prevent police from intervening,” House GOP Minority Leader Christine Drazan said Friday. “They have no business putting law enforcement and community safety at risk.”
Portland Police Sgt. Kevin Allen said the new law is forcing law enforcement to balk at squelching potential lawlessness because of “potential implications.”
“Until we have some clarity on the bill, we have to follow the most restrictive interpretation of it,” Allen said.
The Portland protests are still ongoing from the 2020 George Floyd social injustice unrest waged by activist groups like antifa and Black Lives Matter.