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Portland Mayor Supports ‘Kettling’ After Civil Liberties Complaints

March 16, 2021 by Daniel Mollenkamp
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler poses for a photo outside City Hall in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer, File)

PORTLAND, Ore. –  A mayor-led press conference that prominently featured law enforcement on Monday afternoon condemned the “violence and intimidation tactics” of groups operating in Portland which they described as lawless, prone to property damage, and bad for the community.

The press conference was called following the mass arrest of more than a dozen people in Portland on Friday, March 12, which led to the recovery of weapons, including firearms and bear mace, police say.

The members of this group were detained after the police observed property damage, police said at the event. 

Portland Deputy Police Chief Chris Davis claimed that this is the same group that has been operating in the area for some time. 

“This was a group of people who have come to believe that they are entitled to damage other people’s property, threaten community members and assault police officers,” Davis said.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said during the event that he supports Friday’s use of the technique known as “kettling,” a controversial crowd control tactic, and that it was “used appropriately as a law enforcement tactic.” City Attorney Robert Taylor echoed Wheeler’s claims that the kettling on Friday was “peacefully used,” without tear gas or impact munitions, in order to end criminal conduct, and was legal.

Oregon Justice Resource Center, CAIR-Oregon, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon put out a written statement on Saturday, March 13, denouncing the use of the tactic as indiscriminate and abusive, also accusing law enforcement of violating constitutional rights to privacy and Oregon law by requiring individuals to take off their COVID-19 protective face masks, be photographed, and to show identification before being permitted to leave. 

“PPB officers commit violence and break the law again and again at lawful protests because they know the mayor, the police chief, and the City of Portland will not hold them accountable, by PPB disciplinary processes or by shifting resources, even though the lack of accountability keeps the public unsafe,” according to the statement 

Media was forced out of the kettle area on Friday, according to press present at the event.

Several community leaders, including former state Sen. Avel Gordly, also spoke at the event to say that violence and destruction don’t serve peaceful protests such as Black Lives Matter, which call for police reform and the safety of the Black community in the city.

During the conference, the acting U.S. Attorney for Oregon Scott Asphaug described his workplace as “ground zero” for acts of criminality which, he says, are falsely described as protest. 

“The people who work here support the voices of racial and social justice and will not be intimidated from doing our jobs by the ugly graffiti or broken windows,” Taylor said.

The mayor has held multiple conferences to condemn “anarchist violence” in the city since last summer, including one on New Year’s Day in which he said he would seek to implement “restorative justice measures.” During this latest call, Wheeler indicated that there was “no interest” in the measures from the legislature, though he also claimed the community is coming together against this violence.

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