PORTLAND, Ore. — Hundreds of protesting agitators in Portland who were arrested in the past 80 days of demonstrations will not face any charges, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced Tuesday.
“The protesters are angry … and deeply frustrated with what they perceive to be structural inequities in our basic social fabric, and this frustration can escalate to levels that violate the law,” Schmidt said. “This policy acknowledges that centuries of disparate treatment of our black and brown communities have left deep wounds and that the healing process will not be easy or quick.”
The policy drops charges against people who were arrested for interfering with a peace officer or parole and probation officer, disorderly conduct, criminal trespass, escape, harassment and riot — unless they were accompanied by some other charge of physical violence or property damage, Fox News reported.
Some agitators have attacked officers, throwing fireworks, eggs and other objects at police and shining lasers in their eyes.
Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell, who was told of the policy change on Friday, pushed back against the new rules and said they don’t change Oregon law, insisting that people who commit violent acts or intentionally damage property should be held accountable.
“Committing a crime is different from demonstrating,” Lovell said in a statement. “The arrests we make often come after hours of damage to private property, disruption of public transit and traffic on public streets, thefts from small businesses, arson, burglary, attacks on members of the community, and attacks against police officers.”
Schmidt emphasized that the rules don’t apply to anyone who has committed an act of violence.
“If you are out there committing violence or damaging property, you will be prosecuted,” he said.
About 550 protest-related cases have been referred to Schmidt’s office since May 29, only 133 of which were felonies. More than 350 were misdemeanors or violations that included no claims of physical violence.
Schmidt also lamented the court system, which is already facing nearly two months of backlogs due to the coronavirus pandemic.