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Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s demand to have the deputized status of some Portland Police officers removed was rejected by the US Attorney for Oregon.
The Democrat mayor wanted the designation, which allows anyone attacking the officers to be charged with a federal crime, to be withdrawn, making the request in a statement issued on Tuesday. But Billy J. Williams, US Attorney for the District of Oregon, and Ross Burger, US Marshall for the District of Oregon, made it clear in a blistering response that the move would not be canceled.
Portland police will retain the status of federal deputies despite the wishes of the mayor, the joint statement indicated as it addressed ongoing violence in the Oregon city.
“The U.S. Marshal will not cancel the cross-deputation of local and state law enforcement officers. Law enforcement and law-abiding citizens of Portland have endured months of nightly criminal violence and destruction,” Wednesday’s announcement read.
Breaking: The US Attorney for Oregon (@USAO_OR) rejects @tedwheeler’s demand to remove the deputized status of some Portland Police officers. The cross-deputization allows those who assault local cops to be federally charged. #PortlandRiots pic.twitter.com/ghwVjWCroV
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) September 30, 2020
The U.S. Marshals Service deputized 22 sheriff’s deputies and 56 members of the Portland Police Bureau’s Rapid Response Team ahead of a planned rally last weekend by the Proud Boys and expected counter-protesters.
“Portland Officers have been serving on the front lines of nightly protests for months, sustaining injuries and encountering unspeakable violence,” Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton said, according to KATU News. “If I am to send them into harm’s way this weekend, on my authority, I’m going to ensure they have all the protections and authority of an OSP Trooper.”
The federal deputy designation was extended beyond the rally, however, as U.S. Marshals extended it to the end of the year.
Days later, the mayor responded.
“Portland is fortunate the Governor and the Multnomah County Sheriff helped protect public safety this weekend, including by federally deputizing some Portland Police officers. Now that Governor Brown’s executive order has expired, I’ve asked the U.S. Attorney’s office to withdraw the designation,” Wheeler, who is Portland’s police commissioner, said in a statement Tuesday.
“A key feature of the designation is that anyone who assaults a federally deputized official could be subject to federal charges. Fortunately, I am confident the Multnomah County District Attorney will continue to prosecute anyone who assaults or otherwise harms police officers or others. I take assaults against our officers seriously and so does the district attorney,” he continued. “We need to end the violence. Anyone engaging in illegal violent behavior, regardless of their beliefs or position, must be held accountable.”
But Wednesday’s press release from Oregon’s US Attorney and US Marshall laid out the facts in a scathing message.
“Officers have been repeatedly assaulted with bottles, bats, sledgehammers, lasers, rocks, and other weapons of convenience. In addition, the public has seen repeated efforts by criminals to burn down public buildings. These violent, senseless, and criminal acts have no bearing on social justice. They only serve to exacerbate lawlessness in this city,” Williams and Burger contended.
“Federal cross-deputation of Oregon State Police, Multnomah County Sheriff and Portland Police Bureau personnel underscores the importance of providing accountability and deterrence for these criminal acts,” the press release continued, calling out local government leaders.
“Importantly, the federal deputation supports front line law enforcement officers and their families in a way that they have not seen from City Hall,” they said, adding that residents are “sick of the boarded-up and dangerous conditions prevalent in downtown Portland due to a lack of leadership.”
“We call upon citizens of this city and state to denounce violence, demand accountability, and work together to end the violence,” Burger and Williams concluded.
Some local leaders have also joined Wheeler’s opposition to the federal status.
I’m in full agreement with the Mayor that the deputization of our officers needs to be rescinded and I would ask that until that happens those officers not be out responding to the protests. Portlanders have been clear: we don’t need more deputized officers; we need de-escalation https://t.co/jyZAQzAR7K
— Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty (@JoAnnPDX) September 30, 2020
I strongly support Commissioner @JoAnnPDX’s call—deputized @PortlandPolice officers should not respond to protests, and I agree with Mayor @tedwheeler that their deputization should be rescinded as soon as possible. https://t.co/GElzFWQYSe
— Commissioner Eudaly (@ChloeEudalyPDX) September 30, 2020
The city’s lawmakers were slammed on social media for their stand against the federal designation of the officers while the attorney general received plenty of praise.
Why are the Portland commissioners more concerned about rioters than tax payers and business owners. Why do they want to encourage rioting?
— Carmen Grayson (@MalionsM) September 30, 2020
Finally, US Attorney says what everyone is thinking
— Pumpkin4Liberty (@kamala_is) September 30, 2020
Finally some strong decisive leadership! Thank you @USAO_OR for standing up for Portland Police & the decent citizens of Portland who just want law and order back in our what-used-to be beautiful city.
— LiveBoldlyBeBrave (@LetUBU2109) October 1, 2020
A US attorney with a SPINE!
— captain slushy (@Captainslushy) October 1, 2020
Good!!! At least there’s someone with power, in Oregon, with some sense.
— Rivkah Ann 🇺🇲💙 (@ann_rivkah) September 30, 2020
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