Very interesting development earlier today, as the Oregon State Police announced they were leaving Portland.
"Last night was our last night in Portland," said Oregon State Police spokesperson. OSP is removing troopers from protecting federal courthouse and returning "resources back to counties where prosecution of criminal conduct is still a priority." pic.twitter.com/Te9Bb08u2V
— Kyle Iboshi (@KyleIboshi) August 14, 2020
Local reporting says that the move is a result of the announcement by Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt’s that his office does not intend to prosecute most of those arrested.
“The Oregon State Police is continually reassessing our resources and the needs of our partner agencies and at this time we are inclined to move those resources back to counties where prosecution of criminal conduct is still a priority.”
The Sheriff forMultnomah County also weighed in with some concerns about the policy announced by the District Attorney in an email obtained by local news.
“I have a concern and a question. I didn’t realize riot was one of the charges you were presumptively dismissing. I haven’t read any of the PPB reports related to that specific charge but I have witnessed situations where it’s been used and the criminal behavior has been significant. I would recommend that charge be moved to a different tier.”
“I was trying to understand bullet point #5. What is the intent?
“Are you still planning a press conference? The situation on the street is incredibly volatile with a really committed group of Antifa/anarchists starting fires, damaging property and assaulting police/community members. They may feel even more emboldened if there is a public statement that appears to minimize their activities.”
The deployment of the State Police in support of the Portland PD was the product of an agreement reached between Democrat Oregon Governor Kate Brown, and officials of the Trump Administration, which came after weeks of escalating violence in the rioting at the Hatfield Federal Courthouse in Portland. Prior to the agreement being reached two weeks ago, the Portland Police Department had been ordered by Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler to leave federal law enforcement agents defending the courthouse to fend for themselves, and did nothing while rioters organized themselves and provided for their logistical needs in the parks across the street from the courthouse. Gov. Brown agreed to deploy the State Police — and to force Mayor Wheeler to employ the Portland Police Department to put down the rioting by cleaning out their staging locations and denying them the ability to organize their activities.
With the announcement earlier today that deal appears to now have ended.
Brown made her own announcement on Twitter, claiming that the plan had been all along to limit the deployment to just two weeks.
As has been planned for the last two weeks, last night was the final night for @ORStatePolice to take responsibility for keeping the peace and protecting free speech around the federal courthouse building downtown.
— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) August 14, 2020
At the time the deal was announced, there was no mention of there being a specific time frame for the commitment, and violence returned to the streets of Portland around the courthouse last night for the first time in two weeks. Officials in Washington must be wondering today if the two developments are a coincidence. As noted in the local report, there is concern that the District Attorney’s announcement may increase the likelihood that the violence will escalate once again with rioters believing they are at less risk of protection for their conduct.
Antifa was out on the streets of downtown Portland, but not active as has been the case almost every night for the past two weeks. Some did react badly to being videotaped.
— Nancy Rommelmann (@NancyRomm) August 14, 2020
It’s possible that the news of the State Police pullout caught them by surprise, and they are now assessing the new situation in downtown near the federal courthouse. Federal agents have not been seen outside the courthouse for two weeks since the arrival of the State Police, with most of the rioting having moved to suburban Portland, and away from downtown — until last night when they returned. It seems certain the rioters would like more chances to draw the federal agents back out as the rioters obtained their greatest media coverage when it was them against the feds.
But it is also possible that all this maneuvering is a designed plan to bring federal prosecution of rioters back into play. Just prior to the agreement being reached between Gov. Brown and the Trump Administration, the US Attorney for Oregon had begun filing felony charges against dozens of protestors in connection with their actions targeting both federal property and the federal agents. Now that the state prosecutor has said he will not follow a similar course, the law enforcement authorities have a hard time justifying the exposure of their officers to risk of injury if the state prosecutor is going to allow criminal conduct to take place with impunity. This may be part of a shift in strategy to bring more federal prosecutions as had been the case before the agreement.