REMARKS AS PREPARED
Governor Kate Brown
Portland Protest Press Briefing
September 25, 2020
I am here today to address the events of the coming weekend in Portland, and my concern over the risk of increased violence this weekend.
I am joined by:
• Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton;
• Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese; and
• Portland Police Bureau Chief Chuck Lovell.
As we head into the weekend, we are aware that white supremacist groups from out of town, including the Proud Boys, are planning a rally on Saturday in Portland.
They are expecting a significant crowd— some people will be armed, with others ready to harass or intimidate Oregonians. Many are from out of state.
The pattern of these particular groups is clear: to intimidate, instigate and inflame, and these types of demonstrations in the past have often ended in fistfights, and sometimes escalated to bloodshed.
Whether you’re left-wing, right-wing or anything in between, violence is never the answer.
And I am incredibly concerned about this increased risk of violence in Portland this weekend, and for the safety of Oregonians.
In America, we have the right to peacefully assemble, and everyone in Oregon has a right to express themselves freely — even those who the vast majority of Oregonians would deeply disagree with. However, the First Amendment does not give anyone license to hurt or kill someone because of opposing political views.
And when free expression is fueled by hate, and coupled with an intent to incite violence, then I need to do everything I can as Governor to ensure the safety of Oregonians.
I have spoken with Mayor Wheeler, Commissioner Hardesty, Multnomah County Chair Kafoury, Sheriff Reese, and Speaker Kotek. Out of this conversation came the agreement that we must have a coordinated effort across state and local law enforcement officials to keep everyone safe this weekend.
To do that, I am exercising my authority to put the Superintendent of State Police and the Multnomah County Sheriff in charge of public safety in Portland
this weekend. The Mayor has agreed to and supports this plan.
This is our entire community coming together to protect our community. We want the highest level of coordination and the strongest leadership possible.
Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese, Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton and Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell will work together to keep people safe this weekend.
This is a critical moment.
We have seen what happens when armed vigilantes take matters into their own hands: we’ve seen it in Charlottesville. We’ve seen it in Kenosha. And, unfortunately, we have even seen it here in Portland.
The Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer groups have come to Portland time and again, from out of town, looking for a fight, and the results are always tragic.
Let me be perfectly clear: We will not tolerate any kind of violence this weekend.
Left, right or center, violence is never a path toward meaningful change.
Peaceful protest is the only path to change. Those stoking the flames of violence, those coming to Portland looking for a fight, will be held accountable.
Before I hand it over to our law enforcement officials, to give an overview of how this unified command structure will operate this weekend, I feel compelled to address the feelings of outrage, hopelessness and heartbreak over racism in America, especially on the heels of the recent charging decision in the Breonna Taylor case.
America needs to hear this: Breonna Taylor and her family deserve justice. And this week’s grand jury decision was not justice.
I know that many here in Oregon, and across our country, are outraged and frustrated. Many people are hurting.
Through our pain, we must continue to work toward racial justice and police accountability. The people who enforce our laws cannot be above the law. Our justice system is not just unless it works for everyone.
In Oregon, we’re actively making the changes we want to see in the world. Since George Floyd’s murder, we’ve passed six bills improving police accountability. We’ve launched a statewide Racial Justice Council to center racial equity in our budget and policy decisions, and we have a team already working to re-envision police training and standards for all law enforcement officials statewide.
These steps are just a start. There is still much more work to do to create an Oregon that works for all of us.
Let’s continue that work together. Let’s continue to say the names of Black Americans whose lives were taken by racist violence, and honor them by recommitting ourselves to making meaningful change.
Let’s work together to create a better Oregon for all of us.
With that, I will turn it over to Superintendent Hampton.