Bracing for the possibility of political violence stemming from the results of the Nov. 3 election, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Monday announced what she called a “law enforcement plan to keep the peace, protect free speech, and prevent violence and intimidation on Election Day, and in the days that follow, in the city of Portland.”
With the support of local elected officials, Brown is establishing a joint incident command structure, similar to the pre-emptive action she took in response to a Proud Boys rally in Portland earlier this year, which will take effect at 5 p.m. Monday and run through Wednesday at 5 p.m.
The governor will have the authority to extend it if needed or rescind it earlier. The move will place public safety in Portland in the hands of Oregon State Police and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, rather than the Portland Police Bureau.
Saying there are “unique dynamics at play” that may make for a tense and heated Election Day, the governor has also directed the Oregon National Guard to place its members on standby in the event they are needed to support law enforcement efforts.
“This election also comes at a pivotal moment in Oregon, where the pandemic, wildfires and political atmosphere have boosted fear and anxiety,” said Gov. Brown. “We’ve seen firsthand what happens when free expression is fueled by hate. We know that there are some people who might use peaceful election night protests to promote violence and property destruction.”
Such behavior is “not acceptable,” Brown said, nor is it in line with Oregon’s values of democracy and inclusiveness. She said her goal as governor is to “ensure the safety of Oregonians, especially as they exercise their fundamental right to vote and practice free speech.”
“Every Oregonian has the right to express themselves freely and to peacefully assemble. However, I want to be clear that voter intimidation and political violence will not be tolerated. Not from the left, the right, or the center. Not this week, not any week in Oregon.”
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