Oregon Voters Don’t Approve of Portland Protests, Think Police Aren’t Using Enough Force: Poll

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news.
September 11, 2020Updated: September 11, 2020

A majority of Oregon voters disapprove of the ongoing unrest in Portland, according to a new poll, and a plurality want police to use more force against demonstrators.

By a margin of more than two to one, more Oregon voters disapprove of the protests in Portland than approve of them, 66 percent to 31 percent, according to the DHM Research survey of 502 voters in the state.

Most age groups disapproved of the protests. Those between the ages of 18 and 29, and those who identified as minorities said they believe the protests are helping black Portland residents.

Protests and riots have taken place nearly every night in Oregon’s largest city since May 28, causing tens of millions of dollars in damage and disturbing residents in multiple cul-de-sacs.

Asked whether they approved of the Portland Police Bureau’s response to the unrest, 46 percent of respondents said yes, compared to 45 percent who disapproved.

However, a split was evident: most respondents 45 or older approved of the response, versus just 21 percent of those between 18 and 29.

Most of the protesters and rioters skew younger.

Epoch Times Photo
A smoke grenade ignites beneath a vandalized police cruiser at the Portland Police Bureau North Precinct during a protest 2020 in Portland, Ore., on Aug. 22. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

Approximately half of white respondents approved of the police response, compared to about a quarter of minority respondents.

A plurality, or 42 percent, of respondents, said police have not used enough force in attempting to quell the rioting. And a majority of respondents, or 55 percent, said “riot” is a more accurate description than “protest” of the ongoing events in Portland.

The unrest is considered the most important issue Oregon voters want state leaders to address, according to the poll.

Voters said they disapproved of how Gov. Kate Brown and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler are responding to the unrest, but also said they don’t approve of how President Donald Trump has responded.

The DHM survey was conducted online and had a margin of error of plus/minus 4.4 percent.

The results were released shortly after Wheeler barred police officers from using tear gas when trying to quell riots and unlawful assemblies.

A different survey conducted last month by FM3 Research of 434 likely Portland voters found 67 percent of respondents supported protests while 31 percent opposed them.

A majority also said they believe police use of force has been inappropriate, 59 percent to 35 percent.

Most respondents said they prefer an independent board to investigate matters like deaths in police custody and complaints about the use of force that results in injury.

portland unrest
Portland police officers disperse rioters past a dumpster fire near the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility in Portland, Ore., early Aug. 21, 2020. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

The poll was conducted online and via landline and call phones from Aug. 25 to Aug. 30.

Voters will get a chance to weigh in the board issue.

Portland’s City Council voted over the summer to place a proposal to restructure the city’s police oversight system on the Nov. 3 ballot, over objections from the Portland Police Association, a police union, and City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero, who oversees the current system.

“The proposal under consideration today is presumed to be in response to demands for a different police oversight system. Not a better system, just different. We can’t tell if it would be better, because we haven’t had time for due diligence, to weigh the pros and cons, to understand the hurdles to implementation, or to simply to have our questions answered,” Caballero told councilmembers before the vote.

The ballot would amend the city’s charter to establish a new police oversight board and give the board new powers, including the ability to subpoena witnesses.

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, a Democrat who introduced the proposal about a month before it was referred to the ballot, said it was one of a number of efforts to move towards a “broader vision of community safety.”

“Because police have long dominated the narrative of what public safety should look like, we need to take a step back and instead think about what community safety looks like. Not everyone has the same view or experiences of safety, and that’s where we must start,” she said in a statement earlier this year. “We need to rethink how we manage conflict, how we deal with uncomfortable situations, what communities need in moments of distress, what constitutes a crime, and what an appropriate response looks like.”

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