While Portland Police Responded to Riot, More Than 60 Calls to Dispatchers Left on Hold

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August 17, 2020

More than 60 calls to Portland police were left on hold Saturday night as officers responded to a riot outside of a local police building.

Dozens of calls reporting theft, burglary, vandalism, hit and runs, suspicious activity, and other crimes were left unanswered while police responded to a crowd of hundreds who trespassed the Penumbra Kelly Building, which houses the Portland Police Bureau and other government agencies. Rioters spray-painted security cameras around the building and gathered in its parking lot, where they launched mortars, rocks, and a slew of other objects toward police officers, the Portland Police Bureau said in a statement Sunday.

Portland rioters have targeted local government buildings since anti-police protests began in late May. Throughout June and July, rioters repeatedly attacked the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse with fireworks and other explosives—at one point, rioters barricaded a group of federal officers inside the courthouse and launched fireworks toward the building. Earlier this month, rioters set fire to the Portland police union headquarters.

In June, the Portland City Council voted to cut 84 positions and $15 million in funding from the police department's budget. The measure also shifted $4.8 million to the Portland Street Response, a policing alternative that sends unarmed responders to some emergency calls.

After the budget cuts passed, Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said the council intends to create a safety plan where Portlanders "don't have to worry about who shows up when you call 911."

Saturday night marked the 80th consecutive night of protests in Portland, which began in late May following the death of George Floyd. Last week, District Attorney Mike Schmidt said he would not prosecute most of those arrested for rioting-related crimes.

Published under: Police , Portland