The mayor of Portland has asked U.S. officials to end the federal deputization of dozens of police officers in Oregon’s largest city as part of the response to ongoing riots in the city.
Mayor Ted Wheeler said in a statement late Tuesday that he had “asked the U.S. Attorney’s office to withdraw the designation” that deputized the officers.
Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that deputizing the Portland officers gives federal prosecutors the option to charge anyone arrested by those officers with federal crimes, which often come with more severe penalties than the state crimes for which local police usually make arrests.
Portland has been roiled by often violent protests almost every night for more than four months since George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis.
Fifty-six Portland officers were deputized before a rally in the city last weekend by the far-right Proud Boys group.
“A key feature of the designation is that anyone who assaults a federally deputized official could be subject to federal charges,” Wheeler’s statement said.
“Fortunately, I am confident the Multnomah County District Attorney will continue to prosecute anyone who assaults or otherwise harms police officers or others.”
The federal deputizations could route charging power around new county District Attorney Mike Schmidt, who has declined to bring low-level charges against many protesters who have been arrested.
In an email to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Portland city attorney Tracy Reeve wrote that city leaders had been under the impression that the deputization of local police would end with the termination of the governor’s state of emergency declared only for last weekend’s protests, which ended Sunday evening.
The riots in Portland continued overnight Tuesday.
Authorities said Wednesday that protesters were arrested after police told them not to go on the property of a public safety building, and officers towed a vehicle that had shields, helmets, gas masks and paintball guns that agitators may have planned to use.
The group gathered near the building late Tuesday and the vehicle was towed after the driver refused to move it,.
Two juveniles were detained and released and a man was arrested on a charge of interfering with an officer, disorderly conduct, trespass and escape.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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