State, county and local leaders are pleading for an end to the violence that has rocked Portland streets for many of the past 100 nights, ahead of a holiday weekend and the one-week mark of the death of Aaron “Jay” Danielson, a conservative activist and supporter of the far-right group Patriot Prayer.
The man alleged to have shot him in the chest and left him in the streets to die was Michael Reinoehl, a self-described antifa member who himself was killed Thursday in an encounter with federal officers attempting to arrest him in Lacey, Wash.
“The violence must stop,” many of the state’s elected officials said in a joint letter Thursday. “There is no place for white supremacy or vigilantism in Oregon. All who perpetrate violent crimes must be held equally accountable. Together, we are committing ourselves to do the hard work that will bring meaningful change for racial justice and police reform.”
The letter was signed by Governor Kate Brown, Treasurer Tobias Read, Senate President Peter Courtney, House Speaker Tina Kotek and other elected Democrat leaders, as well as civic groups and organizations.
“Our country’s worst moments were defined by fear and hatred,” Brown said in a later statement. “And our greatest are defined by peace, understanding and justice. The only way through this is if we all work together.”
In a separate statement, more than 90 officials from Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties signed a letter urging their communities to exercise their right to free speech without resorting to heated rhetoric and brutality against each other.
“Violence has no place in civic engagement and protest,” the letter said. “Throughout 2020, and in too many years prior, we have born witness to instances of racial injustice, police brutality and the rise of white supremacist rhetoric throughout our country, and right here at home.
“Even now, we are experiencing unhelpful and inflammatory comments and acts, from many quarters, including the highest office in the land,” the letter continued, seemingly a reference to President Donald Trump. “The overwhelming majority of our community who have risen to protest for social justice and against racial inequities have done so peacefully, in keeping with public health guidelines and within the bounds protected by our state and federal constitutions.”
The letter was signed by four of the five members of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners (with the exception of Ken Humberston) and the mayors of Portland, Beaverton, Cornelius, Durham, Forest Grove, Gresham, Hillsboro, King City, Lake Oswego, Milwaukie, North Plains, Tigard, Tualatin, West Linn, Wilsonville and Wood Village and the Metro regional government council president.
The letter was not signed by any elected officials in Canby, Oregon City or Molalla.
In the letter, leaders “acknowledge Oregon’s long and difficult history with racism” and “commit to continuing to do the work to dismantle these systems.”
“We invite every member of our respective communities to continue to engage with our governments, to hold us accountable and to contribute to and facilitate a transformation away from racist systems and towards a more equitable, just community,” the letter said.
“Similarly, we ask those who may want to demonstrate to do so peacefully and safely. The challenging work of our law enforcement agencies is only made more so when protests turn violent.
“We must speak up against violence, all violence. We have zero tolerance for outside provocateurs bringing hate into our communities.”
Read the full letter here.