Many of Oregon’s top political, business, labor and entertainment leaders issued a call for peace in Portland on Thursday, saying the violence that’s scarred the city has gotten out of hand — and singling out white supremacists as instigators.
In a joint letter the leaders praised “thousands of Oregonians [who] have been peacefully protesting for racial justice and police accountability.”
And they condemned “white supremacy or vigilantism.”
“All who perpetrate violent crimes must be held equally accountable,” the leaders said.
The letter did not specifically mention the anti-police rioters who have engaged in near-nightly clashes with officers in locations across the city.
Most of the hundreds of arrests made by local and federal police have come during those anti-police protests.
The protesters who attacked Mayor Ted Wheeler’s building this week were also part of left wing and Black Lives Matter demonstrations.
And one death linked to the violence was a pro-Trump supporter, shot to death last weekend after a pro-Trump car caravan streamed through Portland.
Signing the letter were Mr. Wheeler, Gov. Kate Brown, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, the Oregon AFL-CIO, the Portland Trailblazers pro basketball team, the Portland Business Alliance and a number of state legislators.
Ms. Brown and Mr. Wheeler have struggled to get a handle on the violence.
Initially they suggested it would burn itself out, then they said it would die down when federal police, surged into Portland to protect the federal courthouse, took a lower profile. Instead, anti-police protests intensified after the federal officers curtailed their involvement.
After the death of the pro-Trump supporter over the weekend, Ms. Brown issued a plan to surge more police into the city, saying she would rely on neighboring sheriffs to supply deputies to help out. But those sheriffs rebuffed her, saying she had the situation wrong, and the solution lies in prosecuting those committing violence.
Thursday’s letter said those responsible for violence must be held “accountable,” but doesn’t commit to prosecutions or any specific enforcement.
The district attorney with jurisdiction over Portland has declined to pursue a number of cases where police made arrests, saying he didn’t want to criminalize protesting.
Justice Department prosecutors have stepped in, bringing federal charges.
On Thursday they announced charges against a Washington state man accused of assaulting a Portland police officer; and a Portland man and a Beaverton, Oregon, woman, both accused of trying to blind police with high-powered lasers.