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Portland mayor slams prosecutors for not charging brawlers

March 12, 2019 Updated Tue., March 12, 2019 at 5:46 p.m.

In the Feb. 20, 2017 photo, protesters clash with police in Portland, Ore. The mayor of Portland, Oregon, is criticizing how local prosecutors and his own Police Bureau handle street violence among political factions that frequently clash on the city's streets. In a news conference Monday, March 11, 2019, Ted Wheeler called for a change to rules and laws if they do not allow police officers to arrest brawlers and vowed that anyone fighting on Portland streets will not escape unpunished. (Dave Killen / AP)
In the Feb. 20, 2017 photo, protesters clash with police in Portland, Ore. The mayor of Portland, Oregon, is criticizing how local prosecutors and his own Police Bureau handle street violence among political factions that frequently clash on the city's streets. In a news conference Monday, March 11, 2019, Ted Wheeler called for a change to rules and laws if they do not allow police officers to arrest brawlers and vowed that anyone fighting on Portland streets will not escape unpunished. (Dave Killen / AP)
Associated Press

PORTLAND – A member of the right-wing Proud Boys group was arrested Tuesday in Oregon after being indicted last month on assault charges.

The arrest came a day after the mayor of Portland complained that law enforcement was essentially ignoring violent protests in the city.

Protests occur often in Portland and police have at times struggled to contain violent clashes.

“In what city is it legal to engage in a street brawl?” Mayor Ted Wheeler asked Monday at a news conference.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reported that 23-year-old Donovon Lyle Flippo of Vancouver, Washington, was booked Tuesday in connection with a June attack.

He faces charges of third-degree assault, a felony, and fourth-degree assault, a misdemeanor. It wasn’t clear if he had an attorney.

Flippo and another Proud Boys member were indicted in connection with the June 8 assault of a man who said the pair shouted homophobic slurs at him. The other Proud Boys member hasn’t yet been arrested.

A request for comment Tuesday evening from police about the timing of Flippo’s arrest wasn’t immediately answered.

On Monday, Wheeler called for a change to laws if they don’t allow police officers to arrest brawlers and vowed that anyone fighting will not go unpunished.

Wheeler also said prosecutors were being too timid and not enforcing existing law.

Wheeler mentioned an Oct. 13 fight outside a downtown bar in which members of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer and left-wing Antifa used fists, batons and even bear mace. Police were present but did not attempt any arrests.

Wheeler said officials in Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill’s office told mayoral aides that prosecutors could do nothing because the law allows for “mutual combat” between people fighting.

“That was an unacceptable answer for me,” Wheeler said. “C’mon folks, we’re overcomplicating this. You’re not allowed to fight on the streets of the city.”

The police department is under scrutiny after it was revealed last month that a lieutenant in charge of containing protests texted repeatedly with the leader of Patriot Prayer, detailing the movement of a rival protest group.

Brent Weisberg, a spokesman for Underhill, said prosecutions are “incredibly complex” and some elements have been oversimplified “by individuals other than prosecutors.”

Sometimes prosecutors cannot determine the initial aggressor, he said, making it legally and ethically questionable to file charges.

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