Police violence is gun violence, or so says Shannon Watts and other gun control activists, but in Portland, Oregon, the dismantling of the police department’s Gun Violence Reduction Team has coincided with a spike in shootings across the city. KPTV in Portland is reporting that the number of shootings in July of this year is almost 400% higher than July of 2019, and the Portland Police Chief Chuck Lowell is hinting that that the elimination of the police unit may be contributing to the spike in crime.
Last week, police say five people were killed in a span of 24 hours, including 18-year-old Shai-India Harris, who was shot near Southeast 84th and Flavel. Family members said the shooting occurred after Harris had an argument with her boyfriend.
“We’ve had to re resource our folks because of the loss of the GVRT, but I want to assure you that these cases are still important and being investigated,” Lovell said. “We’re having to rely a little bit more heavily on patrol.”
Lovell said there doesn’t seem to be a clear reason for the spike in violence.
Ohh, I think we can probably come up with a couple of reasons. After all, it’s not like Portland is the only city to see a spike in shootings over the past few months, though it’s worth noting that shootings in the city have increased year-to-year every month in 2020 with the exception of March, when Oregon’s stay-at-home order was first issued. It may be that the surge in violence in Portland began before the protests and riots started in early June after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, but the continued violence on the streets of the ultra-liberal city certainly hasn’t made anything better.
And yes, the riots in Portland have continued, even as things have started to calm down in other cities across the country. Police in Portland declared another riot early Tuesday morning, as a matter of fact.
Officers reported making arrests after protesters were blocking Northeast Lombard Street and surrounding roads. When one of the arrest attempts were made, others reportedly interfered — struggling with police to free the person being arrested.
Just before 12:30 A.M., police reported making more arrests, but no specifics were given.
Shortly after midnight, Portland police declared the situation a riot and told protesters to leave immediately. On Twitter, officers warned they could use tear gas if protesters did not disperse. Portland Police say officers were hit with multiple objects through the night.
Do the riots have any bearing on the increased violence? You bet they do, even if the spike in shootings aren’t directly related to any specific protest. Not only do the nightly protests and riots mean fewer officers in high-crime neighborhoods, but the attacks on policing further erode the trust and relationship between the city’s police force and the community that they serve. Given Portland’s politics, I don’t see things getting better any time soon, unfortunately. Mayor Ted Wheeler still views President Trump as the city’s biggest problem, not the rioters, violent agitators, and street criminals who aren’t just keeping Portland weird, but are making Portland less safe.