Portland Protesters Vandalized Commissioner Dan Ryan’s House After He Voted Against an $18 Million Cut to the Police Budget

The next morning, Gov. Kate Brown extended state and county police command over the city through Sunday.

Portland protesters on Nov. 3, 2020 (Wesley Lapointe)

A group of Portland protesters vandalized the home of City Commissioner Dan Ryan on Thursday night following Ryan's tiebreaker "no" vote cast Nov. 5 against reallocating an additional $18 million from the Portland Police Bureau's budget.

Shortly before 9 pm Thursday, a group of about 60 protesters marched from Arbor Lodge Park in North Portland to Ryan's home, police said.

Protesters threw a paint-filled balloon at Ryan's home and placed two road flares in the front yard, police said. They also reportedly damaged a window and a potted plant.

The animus toward Ryan arose after he declined to vote in favor of Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty's proposal to reallocate $18 million from the Portland police's budget. With Commissioner Chloe Eudaly supporting the proposal and Commissioner Amanda Fritz and Mayor Ted Wheeler opposing it, Ryan was the deciding vote.

His subsequent "no" vote on Thursday spurred accusations of hypocrisy: Critics pointed out that Ryan described police reform as a priority while he was campaigning.

On his campaign website, which appears to have been taken down, Ryan said the city has to "find ways to follow up on the $15 million cuts to the Portland police budget with even more substantial cuts."

"I have not caved in when it comes to these issues, as implementing equity is my life's work," Ryan wrote on the now-defunct campaign website. "When I look at the bloated, even secretive PPB budget, I get even more determined to institute true public evaluation, with clear and transparent metrics that will serve as a tool for enacting holistic community safety."

Ryan said during the council meeting Thursday that the city should move "methodically" when making budget cuts, and that Hardesty's proposal doesn't provide a "viable alternative to fill the service gap left behind."

"While it is true the community called for additional cuts last summer," Ryan said, "there are no alternative options or ready programs to ensure the safety of our community if an additional $18 million reduction is approved at this time."

Thursday wasn't the first time protesters showed up at Ryan's house with a bone to pick regarding the police budget. On Oct. 27, which was the eve of the first scheduled vote on the budget cuts, Ryan spoke outside of his home with dozens of protesters for nearly an hour as they urged him to vote yes.

The Oct. 27 discussion ended peacefully: Ryan told police not to intervene, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported, and some protesters thanked Ryan and exchanged numbers with him as the discussion concluded. (After nearly six hours of testimony on Oct. 28, the City Council delayed the vote to yesterday, Nov. 5.)

Unlike the first visit, Ryan on Thursday night did not emerge from his home, which remained dark. After 9 pm, police declared the assembly unlawful. They later arrested two protesters and criminally cited another.

City leaders, including Hardesty, whose proposal Ryan voted no on, condemned the vandalism of Ryan's home, saying that "lines have been crossed."

"I want to be clear," Hardesty said in a statement Friday. "We can disagree and be upset over these issues, but I do not condone what took place at the commissioner's home last night, and those who engaged in the acts need to be held responsible."

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who invoked her executive powers Nov. 2 to place the Oregon State Police and Multnomah County Sheriff's Office in charge of law enforcement in Portland, extended that unified command structure on Friday for the second time. State and county police will remain in charge of Portland's law enforcement response until Sunday at 5 pm.

"As we enter the weekend, I am calling on Oregonians to express themselves peacefully," Brown said Friday. "We have a long history of exercising our First Amendment rights in Oregon, but political violence, intimidation and property destruction solve nothing."

UPDATE, 4:30 pm Friday: Ryan issued a brief statement, expressing his disappointment with the actions of protesters.

"I appreciate that members of our community are passionate," he said. "But trespassing at the home I share with my fiancé; disrupting and intimidating my neighbors and me—and vandalizing my property—is not a productive or safe way to express opinions. I have elderly neighbors and I fear for their safety and well-being.

"I am an elected official working hard to serve the city I love. I am committed to listening and engaging in respectful dialogue. The protesters coming to my home are using the exact tactics they claim to be railing against—bullying and intimidation. I ask that they be accountable to one another, and think before they act."

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