PORTLAND, Ore — Several Oregon law enforcement officials urged people to demonstrate nonviolently following next week's election, regardless of the results.
Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell, Oregon State Police Superintendent Terri Davie, Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese and Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt addressed the potential for post-election violence in Portland during a news conference Thursday afternoon.
Lovell said the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) has canceled days off for Election Day, so there is a larger pool of officers available to work. He said the bureau is focused on having the resources necessary, including personnel and infrastructure, to respond to demonstrations that could take place following next Tuesday's election.
Following the election of President Donald Trump in 2016, there were several nights of mass demonstrations and riots in Portland. There have also been frequent protests in the city this year in response to police brutality and racial injustice, some of which have turned destructive.
Lovell said many of the details of how PPB plans to respond are still being worked out. He said the bureau is looking at what it would need for crowd control. He said he didn't know what help, if any, PPB would receive from other law enforcement agencies.
"We've worked together closely in the past...and we'll be prepared to work together to make sure everything during the election time in Portland is safe," Lovell said.
Terri Davie, Oregon State Police Superintendent, said her agency will be ready to assist any law enforcement agency in the state, including Portland police and the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, if needed.
"We're making a commitment to the people of Oregon," Davie said.
She said her agency does have the ability to deploy tear gas if deemed necessary, something Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who is also the police commissioner, has banned Portland police from using. Davie also said there is a contingent of state troopers who have already been federally deputized. She said state police is coordinating with federal law enforcement.
Mutlnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese said his agency has stepped up its presence at ballot drop box sites to make sure people aren't being prevented from casting their vote. He said that if anyone sees anything suspicious, they should document it and report it to law enforcement.
"Any violence before or after the election will not be tolerated," Reese said.
Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt said his office is prepared to protect people's right to vote.
"Coercion of any type will not be tolerated," he said.
Schmidt urged people who decide to demonstrate to let their voices be heard but avoid violence. He said his office will continue its policy of focusing on prosecuting cases that involve assaults, property damage and looting.
Earlier this week, Mayor Wheeler said that the city was working out a mutual aid agreement with state and federal law enforcement to prepare for the possibility of violence on Election Day and beyond.
On Monday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s office weighed in, indicating its biggest concern for trouble is focused on far-right political groups.
Spokesperson Charles Boyle wrote, "As they have on past election nights, it can be expected that some Oregonians will exercise their rights to peacefully assemble and make their voices heard. However, we know that there are some, particularly armed white supremacist militia groups, who might use peaceful election night protests to incite violence and property destruction.”