Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced that his office would decline to press charges against protesters and rioters in the demonstrations in Portland, Oregon.
Schmidt made the announcement Tuesday at his first media briefing since assuming the office on Aug. 1.
Schmidt said in his statement that the policy change was intended to make society more equable.
“If we leverage the full force of the criminal justice system on individuals who are peacefully protesting and demanding to be heard, we will cause irreparable harm to them individually and to our society,” he said.
“The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office will presumptively decline to prosecute a case where the most serious offense is a city ordinance violation or where the crime(s) do not involve deliberate property damage, theft or the use or threat of force against another person,” Schmidt explained.
The statement included a list of offenses from protesters that the office would decline to prosecute. The offenses that will be ignored included the following, according to KGW-TV:
- Interfering with a peace officer or parole and probation officer
- Disorderly conduct in the second degree
- Criminal trespass in the first and second degree
- Escape in the third degree
- Riot (unless accompanied by a charge outside of this list)
“As prosecutors, we acknowledge the depth of emotion that motivates these demonstrations and support those who are civically engaged through peaceful protesting. We will undermine public safety, not promote it, if we do not take action to bring about immediate change,” Schmidt added.
‘I am disgusted’
On Friday, Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner sent a scathing letter demanding that Schmidt focus his efforts on stopping crime instead of criticizing the police.
You ran on a platform of police accountability, which was a thinly veiled threat to indict police officers. What about indicting rioters who loot, burn, destroy, and assault? What about your ethical and moral duties to uphold the law and keep all our citizens safe? The people committing arson and assault are not peaceful protestors; they are criminals. Step up and do your job; hold the rioters accountable. If there is no consequence for crimes from the District Attorney’s office, there is no reason for criminals to stop the chaos.
“I am disgusted that our City has come to this,” he added.
Others, like the Oregon Justice Resource Center, praised Schmidt for the change in policy.
“Effectively prosecuting people for exercising their right to express their views does not serve the people of Multnomah County,” the Resource Center tweeted.
Listen to his radical announcement: