County Sheriff Won't Help Portland Police, Citing Mayor's Tear Gas Ban

Protesters in Portland, Ore. / Getty Images
September 24, 2020

The Multnomah County sheriff declined the Portland Police Bureau's request for backup at a planned demonstration on Saturday, citing the city’s strict regulations on crowd control methods. 

Portland mayor Ted Wheeler (D.) banned the use of tear gas earlier this month as violent nightly demonstrations—which led the mayor himself to move out of his condominium—reached their 100th straight night. County sheriff Mike Reese told the Portland Police Bureau that he would not send his team to assist local police under the mayor’s orders, which leave "no sound tactical options" to disperse violent crowds. 

"If officers have to use high levels of physical force to protect the safety of the participants, it may lead to substantial injuries and may not be effective in achieving the desired outcome," Reese said in an email to the Portland Police Bureau. 

Chris Davis, deputy chief of the Portland Police Bureau, asked Reese for backup after learning that two opposing groups, the far-right Proud Boys and far-left Antifa, both plan on demonstrating Saturday night. These groups, according to Reese, have a history of violent feuds. 

Police chief Chuck Lovell said in a press conference earlier this week that he and the mayor are creating plans to address the two demonstrations this weekend. 

The Justice Department called out Portland, as well as Seattle and New York City, for their failure to quell violence in their cities this summer during a wave of anti-police protests. Wheeler said earlier this summer that, instead of addressing violence, he planned to just let it "burn itself out."