FBI Assigns More Agents to Portland While City Council Cuts Police Funding

The Oregon FBI announced it is adding more staff and reassigning officers from other divisions to deal with the ongoing violence and vandalism in Portland, the San Diego Union Tribune reports.

This announcement came after another night of violence, in which rioters smashed windows in Portland’s City Hall and vandalized the building. The mob threw bottles and eggs at police and used metal bars to damage police vehicles.

“Demonstrators have repeatedly targeted police buildings, police union buildings, city and county offices and federal buildings with vandalism that includes setting fires, spraying graffiti and smashing windows and security cameras,” reports Gillian Flaccus in the San Diego Union Tribune story. The disturbances have gone on for nearly three months as mobs of rioters, looters, and other criminals openly harass and brutalize the city’s residents and the state and local governments refuse to provide people with basic protection.

The activity escalated over the weekend when a caravan of Trump supporters entered the protest area and one of the Trump supporters was shot to death in the resulting confrontation. Police have opened a homicide investigation.

With the level of violence escalating, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler once again rejected President Donald Trump’s offers of assistance.

“You’ve tried to divide us more than any other figure in modern history,” Wheeler said at a Sunday press conference denouncing Trump. “And now, you want me to stop the violence that you helped create. What America needs is for you to be stopped so that we can come back together as one America.”

Acting U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf told The Wall Street Journal the real problem in Portland is that the local and state officials have prevented law enforcement officers from doing their jobs. The police could put an end to the criminal behavior and make the city safe for families and businesses if the politicians would let them, Wolf said.

Urban violence worsens poverty and inequality and traps low-income people in poverty and despair, writes columnist Holman Jenkins in The Wall Street Journal.

“The single best thing you can do for any child in the U.S. is get him or her out of a high-crime, high-poverty neighborhood,” Jenkins writes.

The high crime rates in urban neighborhoods disproportionately affect blacks, Jenkins notes, citing studies documenting the benefits of living in a safe neighborhood and the demoralizing effects of living in crime-ridden areas.

“By now a large literature has established that living in such a place, where everyday survival is often a challenge, is not conducive to acquiring the habits for success in the larger society,” Jenkins writes.

The public should be concerned about the long-term effects of criminal violence on their communities, Jenkins says, citing Ghettocide (2015), crime reporter Jill Leovy’s work on life in Los Angeles neighborhoods in the decades since the destruction caused by the 1960s Watts riots.

“Where the criminal justice system fails to respond vigorously to violent injury and death, homicide becomes endemic,” Leovy writes. That destroys the local economy, and street gangs arise to fill the power vacuum left by the absence of civil society and law enforcement. Vengeance culture and perpetual power struggles become the norm.

“A new group of thugs will emerge, and you will have battles between thugs,” retired police officer and detective Al Simballa told Budget and Tax News. “It’s just like other gangs. They will take what they can get and fight each other for more. They are not exactly going to sit down and negotiate.”

“There needs to be a respect for the law” in order for social and economic improvement to take hold, Simballa said. “Cops represent and implement the law.”

Similar tacitly government-endorsed mayhem occurred in Washington, D.C. after the last night of the Republican National Convention last Thursday. Several attendees, including Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and his wife, were ambushed by mobs on the D.C. streets as they attempted to walk to hotels. Members of the mob yelled threats of murder at the Pauls and tried to break through the group of police surrounding the senator and his wife, almost succeeding at one point. Paul says he is convinced that the mob would have tried to beat them to death had they been able to get past the police.

Paul expressed his gratitude to law enforcement officers for escorting him and his wife from the scene.

“Thank you to @DCPoliceDept for literally saving our lives from a crazed mob,” he tweeted.

“What happened to Rand Paul and his wife should not be a surprise, it should be an ominous warning of what lies ahead if the moronic mobs have their way,” writes Chris Talgo for the Heartland Daily News. If an unruly mob is emboldened to harass a senator and his wife not far from the White House, regular citizens can expect no protection at all, Talgo notes.

In her remarks at the Republican National Convention, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem commented, “From Seattle and Portland to Washington and New York, Democrat-run cities across this country are being overrun by violent mobs. People that can afford to flee have fled. But the people that can’t—good, hard-working Americans—are left to fend for themselves.”

In Portland, the mob has controlled the streets for three months, and police have had to neglect other calls for help in order to contain the riots. During one night of rioting, more than 60 emergency calls to 911 went unanswered because police were occupied with rioters.

“Calls about theft, vandalism, suspicious activity, hit and runs, and burglary were put on hold,” writes Danielle Wallace for Fox News.

Consequences to those causing the mayhem have been negligible. Since the protests started, more than 500 people have been arrested, but less than 50 are being prosecuted. Mike Schmidt, the new District Attorney for Multnomah County, says he will not prosecute people arrested for nonviolent misdemeanors. He and other district attorneys are sending the rioters back out onto the streets despite the violence and vandalism.

President Trump sent federal law enforcement officers to protect national government property, and after they left, the rioting and civil unrest resumed. Oregon state police arrived, and they found the effort futile and left as well.

“Unfortunately, the Oregon State Police have left Portland because they were so frustrated that the district attorney there is refusing to prosecute these rioters, who the police are arresting,” Heritage Foundation Senior Research Fellow for Homeland Security Lora Ries told The Daily Signal. “The Oregon State Police have moved their resources back to counties where they say prosecution of criminal conduct is still a priority.”

While Portland police are attacked nightly with rocks, bottles, and other missiles, and they are spread too thin to respond to other areas of the city, the Portland City Council is reducing the police budget, Forbes reports. With some members hoping to achieve a $50 million cut, the council passed a $15 million reduction in the police budget, and some expressed frustration they couldn’t take away more money.

During the budget meeting, Mayor Wheeler expressed support for the rioters.

“I hear you, I see you, and I am going to be with you all the way,” Wheeler said as he voted in favor of reducing the police budget and eliminating 84 officers, KGW-TV 8 reports.

“They’ve become more bold,” Ries says of the rioters, “because the political leaders have been so passive about it and permissive. If there aren’t consequences for these actions, the riots will continue, and they will escalate.”

“If you don’t have the establishment behind you, from the city councils to the mayors to the judges, you can’t do your job as a police officer,” Simballa says. “If you give the police support to do their job, you won’t have what you have going on in Portland today.”

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About Eileen Griffin

Eileen Griffin writes from Richland, Washington.

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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