Peaceful protesters in Portland will not have to face criminal prosecution, CNN reports. District Attorney Mike Schmidt said in a statement released Tuesday (August 11) that prosecutors won’t “leverage the full force of the criminal justice system” on those who gathered peacefully in protest of police brutality and racial injustice.
The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office will decline to prosecute cases against protesters in which the most serious offense does not include property damage, theft, threats or use of force against another person, District Attorney Mike Schmidt said Tuesday. Charges of resisting arrest and assaulting a public safety officer will be further scrutinized before prosecution, he said.
“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,” Schmidt said.
Daily protests have been taking place in the streets of Portland since May, following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. These protests have been largely peaceful, although some protesters have clashed with police “and a demonstration over the weekend was declared a riot by Portland police,” according to CNN.
“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 said in his statement.
Schmidt made clear in his statement that “intentional physical violence, such as assault and arson, will continue to be prosecuted under their prior policies,” CNN reports.
As Colorlines reported on July 28, Portland protesters sued the Trump administration for sending federal officers into the city to violently target protesters:
Portland organizations and individuals are accusing federal agencies of violating their “constitutionally protected freedom of speech, freedom from unreasonable seizures, and right to due process, by deploying federal agents to unlawfully ‘quash Plaintiffs’ speech and end their protests,’” NPR reports.
The Trump administration two weeks ago reached an agreement with Oregon’s Democratic Governor Kate Brown to withdraw federal officers from downtown Portland, CNN reports. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), however, will stay in the area until “it believes federal locations there are secure,” according to the news outlet.