Multnomah Co. Sheriff's Office
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News Release
Statement by Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese (Photo) - 06/26/20

As Sheriff of Multnomah County, I stand with the family of George Floyd and with all those who are grieving, seeking justice and working to end the racial inequities in our Country. The unconscionable criminal acts that led to his death have brought us to a remarkable turning point where we must face our current and historic racism or we will never move forward.
I strongly support the right to demonstrate and for people to use their individual and collective voices to express grief, outrage and call for action. Over the last several weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to join those marching against oppression and racism, and to meet with community members and leaders to have an open and honest conversation about the change that is needed in our community. I am listening to concerns and ideas on how we can build a safe, equitable and accountable public safety system free of racism.
Since May 29th, there have been large gatherings of peaceful protesters who have elevated these injustices to a necessary and consequential level. There has also been a much smaller group who have made the Justice Center an intense focal point. Individuals have shattered windows as staff worked at desks inside. They set fires inside the building, threatening the safety of those responsible for protecting the adults in custody, the medical staff providing health care and rehabilitative services, and those in custody themselves.
Confrontations have continued nightly, as individuals throw and launch projectiles at Deputy Sheriffs, including improvised explosives, bricks, rocks, commercial fireworks and metal ball bearings. This is a life safety issue for our first responders. Fires are started at nearby businesses or in dumpsters on the street. Department of Community Justice, health care professionals in the Multnomah County Health Department, and Corrections professionals are forced to shelter inside while entrances are blocked or are made unsafe.
The Justice Center is a place of critical services, housing for adults in custody and the staff that supports them. This includes our partners at the Department of Community Justice and health care professionals in the Multnomah County Health Department. I join these partners in highlighting the critical impacts that nightly rioting, arson, and violence has on our members and the adults in custody.
More than ever, it’s important to maintain our partnership with the City of Portland to protect the individuals who provide services inside the Justice Center and those who are housed there from acts of violence. Along with my criminal justice partners we encourage the Portland Police Bureau to actively maintain the safety of our community and our downtown neighborhood where we see ongoing rioting.
Here is the impact on some of our partners in the Justice Center.
“I am grateful for and proud of the professionalism of our Recognizance Unit staff who come to work every day at the Justice Center, said Erika Preuitt, Multnomah County Department of Community Justice Director. They understand the importance of their role within the criminal justice system which includes ensuring pretrial rights of defendants, as well as public safety. They continue to perform their duties under precarious circumstances as do so many others who work or need to conduct business at the Justice Center: those bringing domestic violence proceedings, defense attorneys and advocates. The right to due process unfolds at the Justice Center. The violence that happens night after night not only takes an immense physical, mental and emotional toll — it overshadows the vital work that needs to happen.’’
“I support Sheriff Reese and the employees of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office who are protecting the lives of those in custody and the other MCSO employees at the Justice Center who are supporting the rights of our entire criminal justice system, including crime victims. Continuous and safe operations at the Justice Center and the area around it are essential so our public safety system and community can respond to the demands for justice and change that I and others continue to advocate for.” District Attorney, Rod Underhill
“As Presiding Judge of Multnomah County Circuit Court, I join in the Sheriff's concerns. The arraignment courtrooms in the Justice Center are critical components of our criminal justice system. When the police arrest and take a suspect into custody, that person is entitled to be informed of the charges and have a lawyer appointed to protect their rights and advocate for their release from custody. The court depends on having safe, available courtrooms in the Justice Center to serve the needs of the public and conduct these proceedings. The destruction to the Justice Center is preventing the public access to justice that the court very much wants to provide.” Presiding Judge Stephen K. Bushong

View more news releases from Multnomah Co. Sheriff's Office.