Portland Community Leaders, Police Association Call for End to Street Violence

Portland Community Leaders, Police Association Call for End to Street Violence
People protest during a demonstration in front of the Multnomah County Justice Center in Portland, Oregon, on July 17, 2020. (Ankur Dholakia/AFP via Getty Images)
Isabel van Brugen

Portland community leaders and the Portland Police Association (PPA) have called for an end to street violence after seven consecutive weeks of clashes between federal officers and rioters in the city.

The calls for an end to the unrest follows weeks of violence in the city, which has seen rioters target federal properties, including the federal courthouse, amid ongoing protests since the in-custody death of black American George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.

“If you care about Black lives, if you care about the community, if you care about your officers, if you care about your city, the only thing you need to do is make this stop,” PPA president Daryl Turner said during a press briefing Sunday afternoon.

Rioters broke inside a PPA building over the weekend and set it on fire, also setting fire to dumpsters nearby, according to the Portland Police Bureau.

“This is no longer about George Floyd; this is no longer about racial equity or social justice,” Turner continued. “This isn’t about reform, or the evolution of policing. This is about violence, rioting destruction.”

Rioters were also seen dismantling a fence around a federal courthouse hours after it was put up. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Oregon said that the fence was to “de-escalate tensions between protesters and law enforcement officials and asked people to leave it alone.”

In response to the escalating tension between demonstrators, rioters, and law enforcement, President Donald Trump said on Twitter Sunday that he is trying to assist the city by sending in federal law enforcement, which triggered backlash from the city’s mayor and Oregon’s governor.

Mayor Ted Wheeler, a Democrat, has said that a small group of violent anarchists was drowning out the overarching Black Lives Matter protest in the wake of Floyd’s death. But the mayor called on the Trump administration to pull back, claiming that it was exacerbating the unrest.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum filed a lawsuit against the federal government requesting that the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Federal Protection Service stop making arrests in the city.

Others have called for other solutions to put an end to the ongoing destruction in the city.

“We want to work with you, and we ask for a moratorium, literally a moratorium on the streets to give us an opportunity to hear you,” Pastor J.W. Matt Hennessee with the Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church said during Sunday’s news conference. “We want you to know we hear you. We understand there are issues you want to talk about.

“If you want to make change, if you are serious about change, then I’m begging you as a citizen of this city ... put down your need for violence,” Hennessee added.

Jack Phillips contributed to this report.