PORTLAND – People in Oregon’s largest city threw flares and paint-filled balloons at the house of a city commissioner after he cast the deciding vote against cutting $18 million from city’s police budget, authorities said.
The vandalism took place late Thursday night after 60 people protesting Commissioner Dan Ryan’s vote marched to his home.
Some in the crowd smashed a window and broke planters, prompting police to declare a riot that allows officers to use more aggressive than normal police tactics. Two people were arrested.
It was the fourth time this week that Ryan’s home was targeted, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement. The three other times happened in the run-up to the vote.
The crowd also attacked the police union headquarters, a frequent target of protest activity, and set the doors of City Hall on fire. The blaze was quickly extinguished by a private security firm and is under investigation as an arson, authorities said.
Mayor Ted Wheeler, who voted against the police budget cuts, strongly condemned the events and said violence should never be used to “silence the voices of others.”
“Last night’s criminal destruction and attack on Commissioner Ryan’s home are reprehensible. Violence, criminal destruction and intimidation are unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” Wheeler said Friday. “Those responsible must be found, investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
In a statement issued late Friday, Ryan said the protesters coming to his home used “the exact tactics they claim to be railing against – bullying and intimidation.
“I ask that they be accountable to one another – and think before they act.”
Protests over policing and racial injustice have roiled Portland for five months since the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer.
Protesters are demanding $50 million in cuts to the police budget – with the funds shifted to the Black community, assistance with food and housing during the pandemic and the homeless crisis. Some want the department defunded completely.
City Commissioners already slashed nearly $16 million in June, eliminating funding for school resources officers, transit police and a gun violence reduction team. The department has also had its nearly $230 million budget cut as part of an overall belt-tightening due to the pandemic.
Protesters’ concerns about an overly aggressive police force, police accountability and police funding were at the heart of a close mayoral election.
Wheeler eked out a victory despite a strong challenge from a political newcomer, Sarah Iannarone.
She supported police cuts of $50 million and drew on the energy of the near-nightly protests to significantly boost her double-digit deficit in the polls, but lost with 41% of the vote compared to Wheeler’s 46%.
The rest of the mayoral election votes went to write-in candidates, including a Black Lives Matter activist who was eliminated in the May primary, just weeks before Floyd was killed in Minneapolis.
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