Home Budget & Tax News Oregon Residents Weary of Riots, Disapprove of Political Leadership, Poll Finds

Oregon Residents Weary of Riots, Disapprove of Political Leadership, Poll Finds

Oregon residents are displeased with the government’s response to the ongoing civil disruption in Portland, a new opinion survey reports.

Most say the protests and other disturbances are “mostly violent” and “not achieving positive results,” the poll by Portland research firm DHM Research finds.

Nightly demonstrations and destruction in Portland have continued for more than 100 days. Although most media outlets still call them protests, 55 percent of Oregonians think the gatherings should be labeled as riots, the survey finds.

State Rep. Ron Nobel (R-McMinnville) says the ongoing criminality has overshadowed the movement for police reform, OPB reports.

“It’s not about racial equity,” Noble told OPB. “In fact, that message has been co-opted to where it’s really more anarchy.”

The public is displeased with political parties’ handling of the situation, the poll shows.

President Donald Trump receives the most disapproval, by a razor-thin margin, with 59 percent disapproving and 51 percent strongly rejecting his actions. Fifty-eight percent of respondents disapprove of how Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is handling the protests, and 56 percent disapprove of Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s responses.

Strong opposition to the actions in response to the riots was lower for Democrats Brown and Wheeler than for the Republican Trump, the report notes, not surprising in a state with an approximate 10 percentage point voter registration gap in favor of the Democratic Party.

Respondents were equally divided on their rating of the response of police officers, with 46 percent approving and 45 percent disapproving.

Regardless of residents’ concerns, the riots roll on. Among the mobs are some who are on the government payroll, essentially protesting their own employer. The legislative director for Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek, a Democrat, was among a recent group of rioters taken into custody by police, The Federalist reports. Kristina Narayan has been employed by the House speaker, and thus paid by the state of Oregon, since 2016, The Federalist reports. Narayan was with a group that refused multiple orders to disperse as rioters threw firebombs at police officers.

Wheeler has responded to the ongoing violence by demanding that the police stop using tear gas to disperse the crowds, The Hill reports. Wheeler says removing this tool from police control tactics would “reduce the violence in Portland,” The Hill reports.

Oregon law enforcement agencies called Wheeler’s demand “reckless and shortsighted.”

Daryl Turner, president of the union representing Portland police, said the ban will “blow up in the mayor’s face,” reports NBC News.

“What he does not seem to understand is that the CS [tear gas] ban will force officers to use more impact munitions and use more physical force to disperse crowds,” Turner told NBC in an emailed statement. “His decision hurts community safety and impacts officer safety.”

Wheeler, a Democrat, is running for reelection in November despite calls for his resignation coming from both sides of the political spectrum, NBC News reports.

BLM advocates say Wheeler has “mishandled the unrest,” and Trump called him a “fool” for not taking control over the ongoing riots, violence, and destruction.

Trump continues to offer federal support, which Wheeler has repeatedly rejected with statements blaming Trump for the destruction. In a recent letter to the president, Wheeler wrote, “On behalf of the city of Portland, no thanks,” concluding with this: “Stay away, please.”

Wheeler has had protesters at his doorstep, groups holding sit-ins at his apartment complex, and mobs marching in the street. The mobs have demanded Wheeler’s resignation and a 50 percent reduction in the police budget.

The mayor, who comes from a wealthy Oregon timber family, moved out of the neighborhood after rioters smashed windows and set fires to buildings in the area.

Gov. Brown formulated a plan, after 100 days of unrest, requesting personnel and resources from sheriffs in counties outside of Portland “to keep the peace and protect free speech,” she said. The sheriffs rejected her request.

Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts on Monday said the governor never approached him before unveiling her plan to mobilize local law enforcement agencies in the Portland protests, and that he has no plans to send his staff to nightly demonstrations,” FOX News reports.

The problem is policy, not resources, Roberts said in a statement to KATU news.

“The lack of political support for public safety, the uncertain legal landscape, the current volatility combined with intense scrutiny on use of force presents an unacceptable risk if deputies were deployed directly,” Sheriff Pat Garrett told KGW-TV8.

In an interview with KGW at the end of August, Brown deferred judgment when asked about Wheeler’s handling of the rioting in the city, instead blaming systemic racism.

“I think what we need to focus on right now is tackling racial justice,” Brown told KGW. “It permeates our systems, our institutions, and our cultures. And I think each one of us can be working to make a difference as we work to eradicate racism. I think that’s where we should be focusing our time and energy right now.”

Asked why she did not call in the National Guard when the police were “obviously outnumbered,” Brown said the Guard troops were “volunteers” when what was needed was “trained law enforcement,” KGW reports.

“I will tell you that I am one of those folks that likes to make decisions that will keep people happy, and right now it is really challenging to make decisions,” Brown told KGW.

On September 11, Brown once again excused the ongoing Portland riots, violence, and vandalism, speaking on PBS NewsHour.

“We know that these protests are caused by folks who have been experiencing systemic racism in this state and in this country for decades, for centuries,” Breitbart reports Brown as saying.

It will take time to “eradicate” racism, Brown said in the interview. Asked how confident she was that the disturbances would end, Brown called it a “challenging question.”

When Mayor Jenny Durkin decided to shut down the CHOP zone in Seattle after several weeks of unrest, it took authorities only one morning to accomplish the cleanup. This indicates that “what was missing was a lack of will,” writes William McGurn in The Wall Street Journal.

Shooting deaths in Seattle finally spurred Durkin to action. With the death toll and property damage in Portland mounting, residents of that city want a return to order, the DHM Research poll finds.

The public and their elected officials are increasingly at odds, with a basic difference in how they see the rule of law, says attorney Luis Robles.

“It’s a decriminalization that is going on,” Robles told Budget & Tax News. “Property destruction is no longer considered a criminal act in this pro-protest world. The protest movement says it’s acceptable because it is not violent.

“Of course, if they can decriminalize property crime, removing prohibitions on anything else becomes easier,” Robles said.

Eileen Griffin
Eileen Griffin writes from Richland, Washington.

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