Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said he supports peaceful protests in his city, but in terms of violence, “Enough is enough.”
The death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25 sparked nationwide protests and riots, and ensuing unrest in Portland has lasted nearly 10 weeks, with the city becoming the epicenter for nightly protests and violence at the hands of groups such as Antifa and Black Lives Matter.
The city’s leadership also has joined the protests by at times supporting violent activists over its own police officers and directing its ire at federal officials seeking to protect government property.
Lovell commented on the situation Wednesday during an interview with the media, KGW-TV reported.
“There have been some really large, peaceful protests where people have come out, listened to and given speeches, marched to different parts of the city, and that has required zero police engagement,” he said.
Asked by reporters about the violence, including an incident this week in which a pickup truck driver tore through the middle of a street while demonstrators remained on the other side, Lovell said the city’s repeated violent incidents resemble nothing he’s ever seen.
WATCH: A small pickup truck drove through a protest in Portland Oregon. The vehicle approached a barricade set up by demonstrators, and slowed down before speeding forward, pushing a motorcycle through a chain-link fence blocking the road. pic.twitter.com/GmoVD3DUhG
— #WVTM13 (@WVTM13) August 6, 2020
“I’ve never seen a summer like this,” Lovell said, appealing to his city’s citizens to assist embattled Portland officers.
“Portlanders need to send a strong message that enough is enough,” Lovell said.
The police chief also opined that the manner in which protests are being held is hurting the objectives that protesters are seeking to achieve.
“This is not forwarding the goals that are going to lead to better outcomes for people of color. This movement is really powerful, but the violence has taken away from it,” he said. “This is not what Portland is about. This is not what we need in our city.
“The real issue,” according to Lovell, is that the nightly unrest is draining the resources of the department, preventing first responders from reaching the scenes of other crimes or emergency situations.
“Redirecting officers to crowd control at protests leaves very few cars in the precincts to answer 911 calls. Sometimes just two or three cars,” he said, according to KGW-TV.
Lovell also disagreed with the partial defunding of his department in June; Mayor Ted Wheeler, a Democrat, dissolved his city’s Gun Violence Reduction Team.
“This is our opportunity to reimagine every aspect of policing,” Wheeler said, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
“This is a time that calls for bold and, at times, as I’ve said, uncomfortable reforms.”
Lovell said that unit needs to return, as gun violence in the city has soared this year.
“We hear from a lot of people in the community saying, hey, we need the Gun Violence Reduction Team back. We need these officers that know our community, that know this issue of gun violence, that we really relied on to help stay safe,” he said Wednesday.
KATU-TV reported that in Portland in July, police dealt with more deadly crimes than at any point since the 1980s.
Fifteen people were shot or stabbed to death in the city last month. Two of those killed were shot while attending vigils for other victims.
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