The Democratic Party of Multnomah County supports the policies put forth by Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt to focus on serious crimes and better outcomes for communities rather than to squelch the First Amendment rights of our neighbors.
On August 11, 2020, District Attorney Schmidt released a policy stating that his office would presumptively decline to prosecute cases stemming from the protests that did not involve deliberate property damage, theft, or the use or threat of force against another person. This action stands in contrast to the indiscriminate proliferation of charges brought against otherwise peaceful protesters ranging from “interfering with a peace officer,” “rioting,” and “disorderly conduct.”
We do not condone violence and vandalism. That position is not in conflict with our opposition to Portland Police Bureau (PPB) efforts to prevent residents from exercising their First Amendment right to free speech, specifically in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Over the last six months, in the face of a global pandemic and statewide wildfires, our families, friends, and neighbors have taken to the streets in marches coursing over our city’s bridges, and rallies in our streets. They are using our shared right to freedom of speech, a tradition our nation holds dear. It is the right of every American to make their voice heard when they see injustice.
The PPB has routinely deployed tear gas, batons, and rubber bullets at protests. They use techniques known as “bull rushes” to disperse crowds, relentlessly and indiscriminately pursuing them through Portland streets. They have assaulted protesters, legal observers, media, and medics. They have caused injuries and trauma.
We believe that District Attorney Schmidt’s stance is refreshing new leadership that centers our justice system on improving communities. The policy adopted by District Attorney Schmidt acts in alignment with our platform and aspires to the words of America’s founding documents.
We support Schmidt’s policy’s effect of guiding the District Attorney’s Office to prosecute those who did act with malicious intent. Damage to people and property hurts our community. People have the right to be free from government overreach. Police and prosecutors should be focused on increasing personal safety for the entire community, not staunching free speech.
Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt’s new approach to fair prosecutions is the right policy in a time when the voters of Portland have made it clear, with over 80% of the vote, that they want police accountability and police reform.
Thank you, District Attorney Schmidt.