Criminal Charges for Protesters Have Been Limited in Portland

District Attorney, Mike Schmidt, for Multnomah County announced a new policy that will limit the types of charges Portland protesters may face.

In the press conference, Schmidt said he’ll only be pressing charges against the protesters who have been arrested for assault, theft, or property damage. Lesser charges like rioting, disorderly conduct, not following police orders, or bothering a cop will be dropped.

 Portland | The Raging Patriot

“If we leverage the full force of the criminal justice system on individuals who are peacefully protesting and demanding to be heard, we will cause irreparable harm to them individually and to our society. The prosecution of people exercising their rights to free speech and assembly in a non-violent manner takes away from the limited resources that we have to prosecute serious crimes and to assist crime victims.”

Mike Schmidt, prepared statement for the press conference announcing new policy

He explained at the conference that this new policy will apply to all protesting charges dating back to May 29. Protests and rioting have ravaged through Portland for more than the last 75 days.

Here is the full list of charges Schmidt’s office has refused to prosecute in connection to protestsing:

  • interfering with a peace officer or parole and probation officer
  • disorderly conduct in the second degree
  • criminal trespass in the first and second degree
  • escape in the third degree
  • harassment
  • riot (unless accompanied with a charge outside of this list)

According to a press release from the DA’s office, charges of resisting arrest or assaulting a police officer will be “subjected to the highest level of scrutiny by the deputy district attorney reviewing the arrest,” the statement continues to say, “Consideration will be given to the chaos of a protesting environment, especially after tear gas or other less-lethal munitions have been deployed against community members en masse.”

 Portland | The Raging Patriot
Portland police, photo from oregonlive.com

The Portland Police Association mailed a letter to Schmidt urging him to “hold the rioters” accountable, even suggesting that he wasn’t keeping the county safe.

Schmidt also mentioned that his office will be seeking alternatives instead of jail or prison for those arrested whose crimes only caused financial harm. “Restorative justice” — when the defendant and victim decide on an appropriate means on justice — is included in an alternative criminal punishment.

Input on the policy came from both Portland Police Bureau Chief Chuck Lovell and Multnomah County Sherrif Mike Reese. From their suggestions, Schmidt adjusted the policy, including riot charges to be pressed if they are accompanied by a violent felony.