Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw’s Provocative Statements on Talk Radio Pit Her Against Leftist Protesters

But what do city officials and other stakeholders think?

Antifascists protesters face off against Portland police officers on Aug. 4, 2018. (Sam Gehrke)

Quote of the Year:

"I tell you, 'Meet me after school at 3 o'clock. Right? We're gonna fight. And I come with the intention to fight. And then you get mad because I kicked your butt. And then you go back and you wail off and whine and complain." —Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw

Police Chief Danielle Outlaw (Thomas Teal)

Although it's only August, Danielle Outlaw's vivid analogy about antifascist protesters being dispersed by police is the clubhouse leader for most memorable and divisive quote uttered in Portland in 2018.

In a revealing interview with conservative talk-radio host Lars Larson on Aug. 14, Outlaw sharply criticized antifascist protesters and defended police tactics in the wake of multiple people being sent to the hospital after being hit with riot control agents.

Her comments place local officials in an interesting position. The first black woman to lead the city's Police Bureau is now pitted against protesters rallying against white supremacy and right-wing violence. She says the antifascist protesters behaved in an infantile and dangerous way. Protesters say police targeted antifascist demonstrators while protecting their right-wing adversaries.

Related: Outlaw made bold claims on the Lars Larson Show. Were they true?

WW asked city officials and other stakeholders to respond. Several stayed mum. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler—Outlaw's boss—pointed WW to statements issued before Outlaw's interview. City Commissioners Dan Saltzman and Chloe Eudaly and the Portland Police Association declined to comment by press deadlines.

But others, including the two black women running for City Council this fall, had plenty to say.

We asked:

Do you accept Chief Outlaw's explanation for why police targeted antifascist protesters and not Patriot Prayer during the recent demonstration?

Commissioner Loretta Smith speaks after finishing second in the primary vote for Portland City Council in May. (Walker Stockly)

Loretta Smith, Multnomah County commissioner and candidate for the Portland City Council:

"I support Chief Outlaw and how she has been approaching her job over the past several months. I also support her approach that focuses on an individual's behavior, and if people are threatening and potentially causing physical harm, regardless of their affiliation, then the police have to take appropriate action for the safety of all of our citizens."

(Sam Gehrke)

Jo Ann Hardesty, candidate for the Portland City Council:

"There is no doubt that Chief Outlaw and I have disagreed on many policy issues regarding police accountability and reform. After learning of Chief Outlaw's comments, I was disturbed, so I did what I believe leaders should do—I picked up the phone and called her. After speaking to Chief Outlaw, I believe her statements were a mistake. I am prepared to look past Chief Outlaw's statement in favor of judging her actions, which she has a chance to make by acting on recommendations from community leaders such as myself and the results of the pending independent report."

Mat dos Santos, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon:

"No. Chief Outlaw's comments show a deep disconnect with the events on the ground that day. Not only did the Portland Police Bureau rush a largely peaceful crowd leading to numerous serious injuries, but they also fired a munition at the head of a protester leading to a near-fatal injury. We need to remind Chief Outlaw and Portland police that their job is to facilitate peaceful protest, not respond to isolated events with massive shows of force."

Juan Chavez, spokesman for the National Lawyers Guild, Portland chapter:

"We don't agree with Chief Outlaw's assessment. We too focus on behaviors, and the behavior we saw from the Portland police was a continuation of their pattern of bullying leftist protestors. It's a dangerous precedent for a Police Bureau to say that they're policing 'behavior' or 'tone' at a protest, then choose to focus not on the right-wing protestors with a pattern of violence but the community members facing them."

City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, Commissioner Amanda Fritz and Mayor Ted Wheeler (Daniel Stindt)

City Commissioner Amanda Fritz:

"I do not have firsthand knowledge of what transpired at the protest/counterprotest, and I will wait until investigations are completed before reaching any conclusions."

City Commissioner Nick Fish (at right).

City Commissioner Nick Fish:

"It wouldn't be appropriate to make a judgment about what happened at the Aug. 4 event without full and complete information, which I don't have at this point."

Andrew Hoan, CEO of the Portland Business Alliance:

"We support everyone's right to free speech, as well as Chief Outlaw's focus on behaviors. When individuals are exhibiting behaviors that harm other people or property, it is appropriate for police to intervene and enforce community standards to ensure the safety of participants."

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