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Gov. Brown extends 'unified command' police structure following post-election Portland protests

The governor put Oregon State Police and the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office in charge of public safety in Portland through the weekend.
Credit: KGW
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown speaks during a COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020 in Portland, Ore.

PORTLAND, Ore. — UPDATE: Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced Friday morning that the "unified command" policing structure put in place for Portland protests will be extended through at least Sunday, Nov. 8 at 5 p.m.

Original story below:

Oregon State Police (OSP) and the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) will be in charge of public safety to address potential post-election violence in Portland this week.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced the move during a press conference Monday morning. She said she used her executive authority as governor to put in place the unified command structure for this week. Brown also said that the Oregon National Guard will be on standby and can be called up to help if necessary.

"Voter intimidation and political violence will not be tolerated, not from the left, not from the right, and not from the center," Brown said. "Violence is never the answer. We stand here today, urging all Oregonians to commit to nonviolent expression."

WATCH: Oregon Gov. Kate Brown discusses plan to prevent potential post-election violence in Portland

The governor's executive order also means that law enforcement, including officers with the Portland Police Bureau, will be allowed to use tear gas in Portland, if necessary, at the discretion of OSP or MCSO.

"They use [GS gas or tear gas] under extremely limited circumstances, in the situation to save lives and keep people safe," Brown said. "Law enforcement needs these tools at times to keep Oregonians safe and to protect property."

Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese said law enforcement's goal is to use no force at all in this election process.

"Our overarching goal is to keep the peace, to have a visible presence so people can vote peacefully," Reese said. "The governor's order is there to allow us to work in collaboration and in a model that was very successful on Sept. 26."

Brown implemented a similar unified command structure before planned rallies in Portland on Sept. 26 by the Proud Boys, a far-right group, and various anti-fascist groups. The dueling protests ended up mostly peaceful as the collaborating law enforcement agencies were able to successfully keep the groups away from each other.

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.

Last week, law enforcement officials from the Portland Police Bureau, Oregon State Police and the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office urged people to demonstrate nonviolently following the election, regardless of the results.

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