Gov. Kate Brown Invokes Emergency Powers in Preparation for Civil Unrest on Election Night

This effectively authorizes Portland police to deploy tear gas.

Police officers make an arrest outside Pioneer Square Mall on May 29. (Alex Wittwer)

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown invoked her emergency powers Monday ahead of anticipated civil unrest in Portland on election night.

The emergency declaration establishes a joint command structure led by Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese and Oregon State Police Superintendent Terri Davie, effective for 48 hours, from 5 pm Nov. 2 to 5 pm Nov. 4. (It may be extended later or rescinded earlier as necessary.)

"Violence is never the answer," Gov. Brown said during a Monday morning press conference. "Voter intimidation and political violence will not be tolerated. Not from the left, not from the right, not from the center."

Brown has also instructed the Oregon National Guard to place its members trained in crowd control on standby. It is unclear what would trigger their participation in crowd control, or how many National Guard members are on standby.

That command structure nearly mirrors that established in September when Brown invoked her emergency powers ahead of a Proud Boys rally in Delta Park.

Under this arrangement, the Portland Police Bureau follows the lead of the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office and the Oregon State Police. It is unclear how many officers will be on the streets of Portland during this period, but Reese said there will be a "highly visible presence" of law enforcement.

This is also an avenue for the Portland police to deploy tear gas if they determine protests have escalated into a riot. If PPB does deploy tear gas, it would need to do so following specific orders from the sheriff's office and Oregon State Police.

The prohibition on Portland police to use tear gas has been a sticking point for the sheriff's office and OSP: The latter agencies said previously that they were reluctant to provide mutual aid efforts in Portland after Mayor Ted Wheeler in September directed the Police Bureau to not deploy tear gas in crowd control situations.

Monday's announcement, made one day ahead of Election Day, clarifies Thursday's murky press conference where the Portland Police Bureau, Oregon State Police and Multnomah County Sheriff's Office said they had not yet established a command structure for managing civil unrest on election night.

That lack of clarity seemed baffling five days ahead of the election. But as WW previously reported, the officials were probably waiting on an announcement from Brown whether she would invoke her emergency powers.

Ahead of the September Proud Boys rally, under the unified command structure, the U.S. Marshals Service federally deputized more than 50 officers of the Portland Police Bureau and 22 deputies with the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.

Wheeler has since ordered the Police Bureau to revoke the federal deputizations. Billy Williams, the U.S. attorney for Oregon, has said the 50-plus Oregon State Police officers, who were deputized this summer, will remain designated as such through the end of 2020. Davie said during the Thursday press conference that the OSP troopers are still federally deputized.

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