Sheriffs from two counties in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon, on Monday emphatically rejected a plan by the state's governor for their deputies to help patrol the city following last weekend's deadly shooting of a right-wing supporter of President Donald Trump.
Their decision threw into doubt a plan announced a day earlier by Gov. Kate Brown to keep the peace in Portland by adding nearby sheriff’s deputies and Oregon State Police troopers as the city struggles to regain its footing in the glare of the national spotlight.
Brown, a Democrat, announced the security plan for Portland after the fatal shooting of Aaron Danielson, 39, on Saturday as Black Lives Matter protesters clashed with Trump supporters who drove in a caravan through the city. No one has been arrested in the case.
The rejection by the two sheriffs, elected as nonpartisans, increases uncertainty about Portland's future just as Trump focuses on the chaos in Portland as part of his law and order re-election campaign theme.
Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts said inundating the city with more law enforcement would not work because Portland's newly elected district attorney has dismissed charges against hundreds of protesters arrested for nonviolent, low-level crimes.
Roberts and Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett also said the liability for their deputies would be too great amid worries deputies could be sued for actions they take outside their home jurisdictions.
"The same offenders are arrested night after night, only to be released by the court and not charged with a crime by the DA's Office," Roberts said. "The next night they are back at it, endangering the lives of law enforcement and the community all over again."
Brown's chief-of-staff, Charles Boyle, said Roberts did agree that deputies from Clackamas County could help by handling some calls normally taken by state police while its troopers are dispatched to Portland.
Brown has so far declined to send the National Guard to Portland but instead announced the planned coalition of law enforcement agencies late Sunday. In a statement, she said right-wing groups like Patriot Prayer had come to Portland "looking for a fight" and vowed to stop more bloodshed.
"We all must come together — elected officials, community leaders, all of us — to stop the cycle of violence," she said.
Some Black community leaders were also upset with the proposal to put more officers on the streets. Portland police have been criticized for using tear gas and for being overly aggressive.
"If you're just there, the odds of getting arrested at this point are almost so high as to the point of being guaranteed," said Shanice Clarke, one of the founders of the Black Millennial Movement and a frequent protester.
The Portland police also drew criticism Monday for not doing more to keep the dueling groups apart and for letting the situation get out of control.
Police Chief Chuck Lovell defended his officers, saying the clashes between protesters and Trump supporters were spread out over many city blocks and that the shooting took just seconds.
"While it's easy to cast blame on paramilitary and alt-right groups on the one side, or anti-fascist and Black Lives Matter groups on the other, the responsibility to safeguard communities rests with government," said Eric Ward, executive director of the nonprofit Western States Center, which helps marginalized communities organize social justice campaigns around the West.
"In Portland, law enforcement has regularly failed to keep our city's streets safe."
Oregon State Police troopers supported Portland police at protests Sunday night. Authorities arrested 29 people.