PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - The Portland police chief is using the podcasting platform to talk about issues surrounding police response to demonstrations.
Chief Danielle Outlaw spoke on a city podcast, as demonstrations and counter-protests are expected Saturday in downtown Portland.
“There’s no way to physically stop people from traveling here. Of course I would love to say, I’ll say it now, if you know a big fight is being planned on a certain date and time, don’t show up,” Outlaw said. “But that’s not within anyone’s right to be able to say that. People have a right to come and go as they please.”
Outlaw said there are several challenges in responding to events like these, including a lack of available resources.
As the Portland Police Bureau faces staffing shortages, they also must abide by state and local laws.
“The legislation here is far different than in other places, that inhibits our ability to go about these in the manner I’d like,” Outlaw said. “People have heard me talk about the suggestion of an anti-mask ordinance or even something allowing us to record as these events are unfolding and occurring. Other places are allowed to do that, and we aren’t.”
Outlaw said the bureau has received a lot of criticism from people who say officers only protect one side or the other. She said that’s not true and officers will work to prevent any criminal behavior, no matter who is behind it.
Still, officers can’t possibly witness everyone in such large gatherings, and they often have to work backward to investigate people participating in criminal activity, which is sometimes captured on video and shared on social media.
Outlaw would like to see people be more forthcoming with information, while also complying with officers' commands, especially when they say it’s time to leave.
“If they’ve already made it very clear they’re not going to comply or honor our request, the only way we have to move people out of there is by force. The less amount of resources you have to do that, the increased likelihood of us using force. Nobody wants to use force, officers don’t want to use force, we don’t want injuries on either side, why would we not work together to try and avoid that,” Outlaw said.
Despite the challenges, Outlaw said the bureau continues to learn from each protest.
Mayor Ted Wheeler has made it clear that anyone planning to incite violence is not welcome in the city.
He’s directing police to use whatever means necessary to ensure public safety and uphold the law during Saturday's demonstrations, according to Wheeler.
Organizers of one event scheduled for Aug. 17 have called it an "end domestic terrorism" rally, according to a statement, that will include The Proud Boys and "a collection of veterans and patriot groups."
A statement from Enrique Tarrio, chairman of the Proud Boys, said they are "not coming to Portland to cause problems," but to support groups they say have been under attack, including "innocent people, journalists and our brave law enforcement officers."
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