Portland police have explained why they chose not to intervene in violent clashes between heavily armed right- and left-wing groups, insisting they “willingly engaged in physical interactions” which “quickly resolved themselves.”
Responding to criticism over why the Saturday events downtown were not declared a riot, Portland police said the officers were heavily outnumbered and lacked crowd control resources to address such a massive and violent gathering.
Hundreds of people belonging to multiple rival groups with “various ideologies” descended on Downtown Portland around noon, while the police had “roughly 30 officers available for crowd management.”
As the leftist Antifa and Black Lives Matter activists clashed with right-wing groups led by Proud Boys, police remained on standby, providing “announcements asking for the groups to separate and move to the sidewalks and also to self-monitor for criminal activity.”
Honestly, I’d like to see more colored mace. The yellow is good but I’d like to see rich, dark blues, some purple and of course plenty of bright red. Peppy pepperspray!Do they make glow in the dark mace?They should!Glitter? https://t.co/vdWCUj6nXq
— Lee Stranahan ⏳ (@stranahan) August 23, 2020
Sporadic brawls continued for several hours, with protesters in body armor and gas masks – many armed with bats and shields – rushing at each other, pelting various projectiles and deploying pepper sprays. Authorities claimed they watched the altercations closely, but:
Each skirmish appeared to involve willing participants and the events were not enduring in time, so officers were not deployed to intervene.
Insisting their main goal was prioritizing life safety while balancing the First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly “regardless of the opinions expressed,” police however admitted that another reason for not intervening was the fact that the officers had been “the focus of over 80 days of violent actions.”
Incident commanders have to weigh out the entire situation to determine if police action is likely to make things safer or not.
Police were only responding to certain incidents or criminal activity, like reports of a “male subject” pointing a firearm at the crowd.
When the disturbance subsided and shifted out of the park area across the street of the Justice Center, police moved in to seize several abandoned shields, as well as a “bucket containing condoms filled with an unknown liquid substance and a water bottle with what appeared to be urine.”
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