In an email exchange Aug. 10, Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese expressed concern about District Attorney Mike Schmidt's new protest policy, which he announced Aug. 11.
He was particularly alarmed by Schmidt's plan to preemptively dismiss felony charges for rioting, a decision Reese feared would embolden anarchists and anti-fascists.
The email was first obtained by The Oregonian.
"Mike, I have a concern and a question," Reese wrote to Schmidt on Monday. "I didn't realize riot was one of the charges you were presumptively dismissing.…I have witnessed situations where it's been used and the criminal behavior has been significant."
Yesterday, Schmidt announced his new policy for prosecuting protesters. Per the new policy, the district attorney's office will "presumptively decline" to prosecute cases in which the most serious violation is a city ordinance, or where the crime did not involve deliberate property damage, theft or threat or use of force against another person.
Under the new policy, the crime of riot will not be prosecuted unless it is accompanied by another felony charge that is subject to prosecution, such as assault, arson or the intentional destruction of property.
In the email, Reese recommended Schmidt subject rioters to prosecution.
"The situation is incredibly volatile with a really committed group of Antifa/anarchists starting fires, damaging property and assaulting police/community members," Reese wrote. "They may feel even more emboldened if there is a public statement that appears to minimize their activities."
Schmidt replied by asking Reese to call him.
During a Tuesday morning press conference, Schmidt told reporters that his new policy "acknowledges that the factors that lead to the commission of criminal activity during a protest are incredibly complex."
"The protesters are angry, yes," Schmidt said. "This frustration can escalate to levels that violate the law. Some of those violations are impermissible by any standard, resulting in physical violence, injury and worse. Others represent the instinctive reactions of people who have been gassed repeatedly, who have been struck with kinetic projectile weapons."
The exchange between Reese and Schmidt, both of whom consider themselves progressives, is the latest example of a widening rift in the local law enforcement community over who should be charged with crimes committed at protests.
In recent weeks, federal prosecutors have stepped in and indicted two people for crimes committed amid Portland's uprising.