Portland Police Spent $8 Million on Riots

A police officer watches demonstrators in Portland, Ore., September 26, 2020. (Jim Urquhart/Reuters)

Portland police spent $7.9 million responding to demonstrations and violent riots in just the first two-and-a-half months of unrest in the city, according to a National Review analysis of protest costs.

The vast majority of the spending, or $5.3 million, was for officer overtime pay, according to recently released Portland Police Bureau data of spending from June 1 to August 13.

The agency also spent over $1 million for regular officer pay and $341,000 in premium pay.

The data documents nearly 1,500 expenditures for things like office supplies, gasoline, and equipment rentals.

Food was the biggest police expenditure after officer pay, with the bureau spending almost $300,000 for things like water, coffee, pizza and sandwiches, according to the data.

Expenditure details show that police spent at least $17,644 at Baja Fresh, $10,144 at Red Robin, and $9,764 at Jersey Mike’s sub shop. The data doesn’t include any spending since mid-August.

The protests in Portland initially began in late May in response to the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. But while demonstrations related to Floyd’s death have ended in most other American cities, they’ve continued in Portland for more than 120 days, even as the country’s attention has turned to other national dramas, including last week’s presidential debate and President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis.

Portland police made 906 protest-related arrests through Sunday, according to a timeline on the bureau’s website. Many of the protesters have been arrested on charges including rioting, assault, arson and disorderly conduct.

Officers are regularly attacked with rocks, eggs, soup cans, and even firebombs, mortars and fireworks, according to police accounts of the demonstrations.

On September 28, a Portland police sergeant was hospitalized after he was punched in the face by a protester, and five officers were sprayed with a “chemical irritant,” police reported.

Police arrested John B. Russell, 41, of Portland, on Sunday, after they say he smashed in the back window of an officer’s car and pepper-sprayed the interior while the officer was doing paperwork, the agency reported. Russell faces charges of assaulting a public safety officer, aggravated harassment, and criminal mischief.

“Attacks like this one remind us all that there is the potential for people to try to take direct, violent action against police officers,” Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said in a prepared statement.

Since the demonstrations began, police have declared 27 riots, according to the timeline.

August was the busiest month for police, with 291 arrests and 15 riots, the agency reported.

Even on days when police haven’t officially declared the demonstrations to be riots, they’ve often classified them instead as “unlawful assemblies” and “civil disturbances.”

In addition to attacking police officers, the demonstrators have regularly vandalized and burglarized buildings, blocked roads and set arson fires.

On September 24, demonstrators spray painted the Portland Police Association’s office building, set fire to the plywood covering the office’s front door, and attempted to light the building’s awnings on fire.

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