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Portland's Black police chief says violent protesters have 'taken away from' the Black Lives Matter movement

INSIDER logoINSIDER 8/6/2020 acollman@businessinsider.com (Ashley Collman)
a man smiling for the camera: Portland, Oregon Police Chief Chuck Lovell speaks at a press conference on August 5, 2020. KGW © KGW Portland, Oregon Police Chief Chuck Lovell speaks at a press conference on August 5, 2020. KGW
  • Chuck Lovell, the police chief of Portland, Oregon, called for violent protesters to stop their actions at a Wednesday press conference.
  • While protests in downtown Portland have been peaceful since the presence of federal agents was scaled back last week, there have been violent offshoot protests in other parts of the city.
  • "Portlanders need to send a strong message that enough is enough. This is not forwarding the goals that are going to lead to better outcomes for people of color," said Lovell, who is Black.
  • Wednesday marked the 70th consecutive day of demonstrations in the city, which started after George Floyd's death in late May.
  • The Portland police declared riots on Tuesday and Wednesday night as this smaller group of protesters targeted a police union office and a police precinct. 
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Portland's police chief called out a small band of agitators who have started violent offshoots of the largely-peaceful Black Lives Matter protests, saying they have "taken away from" the movement.

Speaking at a Wednesday morning press conference, Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell, who is Black, said that the violence "is not forwarding the goals that are going to lead to better outcomes for people of color."

"This movement is really powerful, but the violence has taken away from it ... This is not what Portland is about. This is not what we need in our city," Lovell said, according to KGW.

Wednesday marked the 70th consecutive day of protests in the city, which began after the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis, in late May. 

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: A man is seen using a wrench to try and shatter the front window of a Portland Police precinct in Southeast Portland Wednesday night. KGW © KGW A man is seen using a wrench to try and shatter the front window of a Portland Police precinct in Southeast Portland Wednesday night. KGW

Portland's protests have been held in the downtown area, near the police headquarters and a federal courthouse. They were largely peaceful until early July, when President Donald Trump sent federal agents to the city to quell the unrest. 

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown cut a deal with the White House last week to start scaling back the federal presence in Portland, and demonstrations have since become more peaceful again.

However, in recent nights, smaller groups have broken off and held separate demonstrations outside police precincts and union buildings in other parts of Portland, and it's these protests that have turned violent.

The Portland police declared riots at these demonstrations on Tuesday and Wednesday night. 

On Tuesday night, one group broke into the Portland Police Association's Office in North Portland and set fires, according to The Oregonian. Officers had rocks and bricks thrown at them and three people were detained, according to KGW. 

"If you're trying to burn, burglarize buildings or throw Molotov cocktails, rocks or other things that injure officers ... to me, there's no message there," Lovell had told the press conference hours later on Wednesday morning, according to The Oregonian.

That night, a couple hundred people gathered outside the Southwest Portland police precinct, with one person trying to break a window, and another starting a fire in a trash can next to the entrance, The Oregonian reported.

Police responded to that riot with stun grenades, and detained at least four people. 

a group of people holding signs: Protesters march through Portland after rallying at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse on August 2, 2020. Noah Berger/AP © Noah Berger/AP Protesters march through Portland after rallying at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse on August 2, 2020. Noah Berger/AP

At his Wednesday morning press conference, Lovell said it has been difficult to continue redirecting officers to man protests at a time when the city is seeing an increase in gun violence.

According to the police, there were 99 shootings in July, 35 more than last year. 

Lovell said he was speaking out to inspire Portland to come together on this issue, saying the violence won't end until the city takes a united stand against it. 

"Portlanders need to send a strong message that enough is enough," Lovell said. 

Lovell also wrote an op-ed in The New York Times on Monday, where he differentiated the mostly-peaceful protests from the subset of agitators causing the bulk of violence.

"As police officers, our duty is to uphold the rights of anyone to assemble peacefully and engage in free speech," he wrote. "But over the months of protests, a concerning dynamic developed. People protested peacefully, while others engaged in dangerous activities that could have resulted in injury and even death."

"As a Black man and a public servant, I have a unique perspective. I agree with a local pastor, E.D. Mondainé, who stated these 'spectacles' are drowning out the voices that need to be heard to make positive change. This violence is doing nothing to further the Black Lives Matter movement."

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Video: Portland Protests: Tensions Remain (QuickTake)

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