Governor Kate Brown announced Monday she will send 100 Oregon State troopers and 50 National Guard members to support the Portland Police Bureau after three nights of unrest in Oregon’s largest city.
In a press conference, she also joined with state and local leaders in calling for peaceful protest to honor the memory of George Floyd, a black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during his arrest, as well as the need for meaningful racial and criminal justice reform.
“The killing of George Floyd is a stain on this country,” Governor Brown said. “On Friday, thousands of people gathered at several peaceful protests across the city. This was a cry for action. A call for reform. A community in mourning.”
Later that night, what she described as “much smaller groups” engaged in acts of violence, looting and property damage throughout the downtown core. It was a scene Portland police later termed a “riot” and which resulted in millions of dollars in damage, according to Mayor Ted Wheeler.
“Senseless violence does not honor George Floyd’s death or create accountability,” said the governor. “Only the hard work of racial justice will.”
To help “protect property and ensure peaceful protests,” Brown said she would be sending the 100 Oregon State Police officers to work with Portland police, and 50 unarmed members of the Oregon National Guard to “serve in a support function only.”
The Oregon National Guard members will not be on the front lines, making arrests, or doing crowd control, the governor said. They will act as support personnel — caring for the injured, processing arrests and directing traffic.
“To everyone who is hurting right now, I want to say I see you,” Governor Brown said. “I hear you. I stand with you. And I add my voice to yours. Years and years of failure to reform police practices. Years of failure to hold police officers accountable. Years of failure to bring real reforms to our criminal justice system, which incarcerates Black Americans at five times the rate of white Americans.”
Photo by Dave Killen, The Oregonian. Used with permission.