Despite seeing hundreds of protest- and riot-related cases in the past few months, Portland has chosen to ignore crimes that are not deliberate “acts of violence” or “property damage.”
Mike Schmidt, the district attorney of Portland, recently announced that he will not pursue protesters and rioters whose charges don’t include “deliberate” property damage, among other similar charges.
Schmidt’s prosecutors have enacted a policy of not charging protesters accused of interfering with police, disorderly conduct, criminal trespass, escape or harassment, or those with a standalone riot accusation.
“What we’re doing is recognizing that the right to speak and have your voice heard is extremely important,” Schmidt said.
While he has voiced his support for peaceful protesters’ First Amendment rights, Schmidt also appears to be neglecting his job as the city’s top prosecutor. Since May 29, around 550 cases have been referred to the district attorney’s office.
Schmidt made this announcement less than two weeks after becoming Multnomah County’s district attorney. As a result of the new policy, the Oregon State Police said that it would pull out about 100 troopers who were defending the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse.
Without added support from state police, the city of Portland could be at an increased risk of violence and destructive rioting.
Criminal acts, even if they are minor compared to others, should be brought to justice. Laws and those who enforce them are what keep the U.S. stable and strong. Without proper justice, there is nothing to deter crime and those who perpetrate it.