Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced plans Sunday to surge police into Portland — including FBI agents — to get a handle on violence that has continued nightly over the last few months.
Ms. Brown, a Democrat, blamed the violence on right-wing groups she said were “looking for a fight,” though the vast majority of mayhem since late May has been Antifa or Black Lives Matter protesters who have engaged in near-nightly clashes with police.
She acknowledged those clashes have stretched the Portland Police Bureau to its limits and it needs assistance. So she said Oregon State Police, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office that encompasses Portland, and deputies from neighboring jurisdictions of Clackamas and Washington counties and the city of Gresham will all provide resources.
Ms. Brown also said the Multnomah County district attorney will prosecute “serious criminal offenses.”
He had declined prosecution in a number of cases stemming from the riots, leaving police to complain that rioters were acting with impunity.
Even though her actions involved more police — the solution President Trump has called for — her statement took pains to bash his supporters, including the Patriot Prayer organization that conducted a pro-Trump caravan through Portland on Saturday.
One member of the group was killed in the aftermath, and other Patriot Prayer members said he was “executed” by Antifa demonstrators.
Ms. Brown, though, blamed the pro-Trump groups.
“The right-wing group Patriot Prayer and self-proclaimed militia members drove into downtown Portland last night, armed and looking for a fight,” she said.
“Every Oregonian has the right to freely express their views without fear of deadly violence. I will not allow Patriot Prayer and armed white supremacists to bring more bloodshed to our streets,” Ms. Brown said.
The move to surge police is an about-face for Ms. Brown and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who spent months saying policing was not the solution to the near-nightly chaos.
They also both insisted things would calm down when federal agents and officers, deployed to protect the federal courthouse that had been the scene of nightly attacks throughout July, took a lower profile.
Instead, after the federal presences was cut back, rioters turned their attention on city and county offices, including breaking into Portland’s city hall last week.
“We all must come together — elected officials, community leaders, all of us — to stop the cycle of violence,” Ms. Brown said. “But this is only the first step. Real change will come from the hard work to achieve racial justice. And it starts with all of us listening to each other, and working together.