“Certainly fighting words there,” KOIN reporter Lisa Balick says without a hint of irony about the declaration from Oregon state police. Their leadership has ordered a withdrawal from Portland despite their role as guarantor of security for the federal courthouse, allowing DHS to withdraw its own law-enforcement personnel. The state police issued a statement saying they prefer to put their resources into areas where prosecutors take their jobs seriously, unlike Multnomah County DA Mike Schmidt:
“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.”
Asked if OSP troopers would be pulling out of Portland immediately, officials told KOIN 6 News the answer is yes. …
There is growing concern by law enforcement that protest violence in Portland may escalate now that Schmidt said he will not pursue cases against those arrested for interfering with police, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct if they don’t involve deliberate property damage, theft or force.
Portland police are practically daring Schmidt not to prosecute. They are still arresting people under charges Schmidt said he will dismiss. Fox affiliate KPTV reports that police chief Chuck Lovell announced that the police will enforce the law, and expects that Schmidt will do the same … eventually. Multnomah sheriff Mike Reese sent Schmidt an e-mail asking him what the heck he’s thinking:
“The situation on the street is incredibly volatile,” Reese wrote, “with a really committed group of Antifa/anarchists starting fires, damaging property and assaulting police/community members. They may feel even more emboldened,” Reese warned Schmidt, “if there is a public statement that appears to minimize their activities.”
Anger over prosecutors refusing to do their jobs isn’t limited to Portland either, ABC News notes this morning. Police and politicians in Chicago have begun to point fingers at newly re-elected Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, and people are getting unhappy with similarly lax treatment of criminals in New York City as well. These problems predate the George Floyd riots, and originate in supposed criminal-justice reform efforts that have released thousands of criminals back onto the streets:
Several top prosecutors have faced pushback in recent weeks for what critics say has been too lenient a response to unrest, including looting.
The Cook County State’s attorney, Kim Foxx, was among the latest to face criticism after looting and violence overtook the streets of Downtown Chicago early Monday.
Several Chicago officials this week charged that Foxx’s progressive reforms, such as raising the bar for felony charges in retail theft, have led to repeat offenses in recent months. …
Portland’s policy is akin to one rolled out in New York during the early days of the city’s protests against police brutality. In early June, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance announced he would decline to prosecute protesters arrested for unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct. The policy, his office said, was designed to preserve resources for more serious crimes and “reduce racial disparities and collateral consequences in low-level offense prosecutions.”
Around that time, Vance’s office also faced pushback for not charging alleged looters with higher burglary offenses, allowing them to be released amid new bail reform measures. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on prosecutors to charge the looters with second-degree burglary and said that “they should be held and set bail.” In response, the district attorney’s office said there often wasn’t enough evidence for a more serious charge.
If this summer proves anything, it’s that elections matter — even down to the lowest level. When voters put unserious people into office, bad things happen, and then they start happening fast. City councils that don’t take responsibility for their own policing policies, prosecutors who prefer posing to enforcing the law, and governors who like pandering rather than public peace are all part of the problem. The only real solution is to vote all of them out of office and elect people who take law enforcement as seriously as protecting civil rights, rather than people who see theft as a protest against privilege and riots and arson as legitimate public conduct.