Three Men Cited for Manning Illegal Roadblock Amid Wildfires

September 18, 2020 Updated: September 18, 2020

Three men were cited on Thursday for manning an illegal roadblock in Oregon.

Multnomah County sheriff’s deputies responded after a report of a roadblock and civilian traffic stop on Tuesday around 8:30 p.m., the county sheriff’s office said.

Deputies interviewed a driver who reported being followed and blocked by three vehicles.

Following an investigation, officials cited three men. They’ll be required to appear in court on a later date for the disorderly conduct charges.

“The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office will not tolerate this type of illegal activity,” Sheriff Mike Reese said in a statement.

“If you see this activity or are stopped by a civilian, call 911, and a deputy will respond and investigate. We encourage people to call the Sheriff’s Office to report suspicious activity, and to not take action on their own.”

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James Smith hugs his dog Rose after returning to his evacuated home to find looters had stolen his motorcycles, in Estacada, Ore., Sept. 12, 2020. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

Armed persons patrolling areas amid wildfires in the state have sparked controversy. In some areas, signs saying looters will be shot have been seen.

Craig Roberts, the sheriff in nearby Clackamas County, told reporters on Monday that “there are some citizens with good intentions of trying to protect property” while armed. Deputies were making sure they knew the law, he said.

“I’m reaching out right now in this public forum to say, listen, stop for those that we haven’t talked to. I’m warning you that if that behavior continues, we will have to hold those individuals accountable. So right now, please call 911 we’ll handle it,” he said.

“And the last thing any of us want is somebody, you know, accidentally taking the life of somebody who is just trying to help out.”

Calls for service skyrocketed in the county 400 percent from the previous week, officials said. Most calls are unfounded, according to Roberts.

In one case, he said, a truck with gasoline containers drew suspicion and a call to 911. Deputies found the driver was delivering gas to people with generators in the area.

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Hansel Valentine, 24, inspects the remains of the burnt down property of her relatives, as the wildfire continues in Estacada, Ore., Sept. 13, 2020. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
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A burnt street sign dangles on a pole in a neighborhood destroyed by wildfire in Talent, Ore., Sept. 13, 2020. (David Ryder/Getty Images)

There have been people arrested for arson amid the wildfires on the West Coast, including a man in Washington state and a man in Portland, both on Monday.

Others have been taken into custody for allegedly looting in areas that were evacuated because of the flames.

Several people were arrested in Jackson County, in the southwest portion of the state, this week on looting charges.

In Marion County, south of Portland, two men were arrested last week for looting, the county sheriff’s office said.

“I am disappointed that while in a state of emergency these people would victimize members of our community,” Sheriff Joe Kast said in a statement. “The women and men of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office are committed to holding people accountable if they chose to victimize residents from our evacuated areas. We will continue to patrol evacuated areas and do our best to protect these areas from criminal behavior.”

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