PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - Due to growing concern over possible post-election violence in Portland, Governor Kate Brown signed an executive order Monday morning, creating a unified command between local law enforcement agencies.
The big message that Gov. Brown wanted to get across Monday was that the executive order is meant to keep the peace in Portland ahead of an election that she says is like no other. The executive order is similar to one the governor issued for planned protests in Portland in late September. Those protests were mostly peaceful on Sept. 26.
"Especially this year, there are unique dynamics at play that may create an environment ripe for a heated Election Day, and post-election period. This election also comes at a pivotal moment in Oregon, where the pandemic, wildfires and political atmosphere have boosted fear and anxiety. We’ve seen firsthand what happens when free expression is fueled by hate. We know that there are some people who might use peaceful election night protests to promote violence and property destruction. This behavior is not acceptable and it’s not in line with our Oregon values of being an inclusive democracy," said Gov. Brown. "Every Oregonian has the right to express themselves freely and to peacefully assemble. However, I want to be clear that voter intimidation and political violence will not be tolerated. Not from the Left, the Right, or the Center. Not this week, not any week in Oregon."
Preventing violence and property damage this election is what state and local leaders say the executive order is designed to do, by forming a unified command between the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office and Oregon State Police.
"[The unified command] allows all of the law enforcement agencies in Multnomah County to work collaboratively in alignment, certainty about what we're going to do, and to get us the resources necessary to keep the peace in our community. We want to use no force at all in this election process. Our goal - our overarching goals is to keep the peace, to have a visible presence so people can vote peacefully and engage in our democratic processes safely, and for us to support that," said Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese.
The plan also includes support from the Portland Police Bureau and the Oregon National Guard. Soldiers are standing by and will be deployed into the city if needed.
"We've got a number of units available on standby to assist - in riot, traffic detentions, whatever may be need," said Major General Michael Stencel with the Oregon National Guard.
And if deemed necessary, Gov. Brown says tear gas will be permitted, but only in extreme circumstances.
Gov. Brown says law enforcement has been preparing for Election Day and the possibility of unrest following election results for weeks.
Portland business owners have also prepared. Some tell FOX 12 that they're increasing security just in case violence follows the election, like it did in 2016 when people protested throughout the city causing property damage to businesses after Donald Trump won the election four years ago.
Oregon State Police say the executive order begins Monday at 5 p.m. and runs through the next 48 hours, then Gov. Brown can assess whether it needs to be extended.
Following the announcement of the executive order, Mayor Ted Wheeler released a statement, saying:
"Local law enforcement has been working for several weeks to ensure we have adequate resources available to keep our community safe. We’ve cancelled days off, put staff on call, and coordinated across all city bureaus to prepare for a wide range of possible scenarios.Given the heightened concerns about potential violence, particularly from white supremist organizations and the divisive rhetoric from Washington, D.C., the need for coordination and partnership takes on statewide significance. Oregon is likely to be a flashpoint.I appreciate that Governor Brown is using her executive authority to bring more resources to Portland. Our partnership prevented violence in the past and I hope it will do so again.We should all be prepared for delayed results from the election. And, I urge everyone to focus on staying safe during this most important election."
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