Over the past week, the Portland Police Bureau has arrested Skylor Jernigan, a right-wing protester who allegedly fired shots into a crowd, and Marquise Love, a Black man caught on video kicking a white man in the head during protests downtown.
Schmidt's office will now handle the prosecution of both cases, even as he faces criticism from PPB and the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office for dismissing charges in most of the hundreds of arrests made since the protests began.
He also faces a demand from the attorney for Joey Gibson, the right-wing organizer from Clark County, Wash., that Schmidt drop charges against Gibson for protest-related accusations that preceded the reaction to George Floyd's death. (That case is proceeding.)
Schmidt was elected by a landslide 3-to-1 margin in the May primary by voters who are generally supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement and hostile to Gibson and his allies.
The Times quoted Ethan Knight, the assistant U.S. attorney whom Schmidt defeated in the May primary, on the balancing act Schmidt will face as he sorts through how to use the power of his office in politically charged cases.
"It's a risky and a fraught position to decide unequivocally that you're not going to prosecute riot cases and a number of other offenses in a fluid law enforcement environment, because you constrain law enforcement," Knight said.
The policy faces a real test, too, Mr. Knight added, if the police arrest more members of right-wing groups.
"You have to apply this in an evenhanded manner, even if the public supports one side or the other," he said, "because that's your job."