Portland finally realizes they need anti-mask laws

When Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler delivered his truly cringe-worthy “explanation” for what went on during the recent Antifa attacks, he clearly got a number of things wrong. But during the ensuing discussion, both he and the Portland PD seemed to also admit to a couple of flaws in the current system that might be fixable. One of these was the admission that there is currently no law barring the wearing of masks to conceal your identity during public gatherings, protest and the like. The national attention focused on their stunning failure last Saturday seems to have prompted them to action on at least this count. Portland’s Police Chief is coming out and calling on the legislature to enact such a law. (Oregon Live)

Police Chief Danielle Outlaw said Wednesday the city, police and community need “a better way” to address protest groups bent on brawling on Portland streets and called for laws that would bar masks worn by demonstrators, allow police to fully videotape protests and give authorities greater control of protests by groups with a history of violence.

“We have to do something differently,” Outlaw said, addressing reporters directly for the first time since violence in Saturday’s converging protests downtown drew national attention.

“There were entities that planned a brawl in the city of Portland and no one seems to be upset about that. … Entities came here for a fight. … I don’t even know what they were protesting against.’’

At first glance, you might be tempted to think that it’s good news to see the Police Chief speaking out in support of common sense, and to at least some degree I suppose it is. But this is yet another reminder that the cops in Portland (and all of Oregon, really) are fighting some bad legislative handcuffs while also dealing with liberal elected officials who hamper their effectiveness. As soon as she suggested an anti-masking law so suspects could be identified, objections were raised. The ACLU spoke out against it and Portland Commissioner Amanda Fritz issued a statement saying that they looked at such a proposal before and found “the constitutional free speech issues are difficult to overcome.”

Not for nothing, but I wonder if they’ll be out there defending free speech this strongly if 500 klansmen come to town and plan on wearing their hoods. We should ask her.

The second issue is the videotaping question. The police are forbidden from recording entire events because activists think the cops shouldn’t be “spying” on them. If you get rid of that law and replace it with one barring the wearing of masks during demonstrations you might be a tad bit more effective at doing your job.

Sadly, there’s a lot more to Chief Outlaw’s comments than just those two points and it all looks bad. First of all, she vigorously denied that the Mayor had “handcuffed” the police as to how they dealt with Antifa. That’s a direct contradiction to what the police union president said this week. Somebody is lying and the public deserves to know who it is.

Going beyond that, Outlaw makes it sound like her police are understaffed and outgunned. They have 128 officer vacancies at present and county law enforcement refused to help them when it comes to protests. She describes her own police force as being reactive, rather than proactive because of the lack of personnel and resources. If you already knew that was the case, why hasn’t anything been done about it yet?

She went so far as to say, “If officers are outnumbered when violence breaks out, it doesn’t make sense to send in officers who could be injured” Did the Police Chief seriously just say that? Aren’t your cops trained in riot control tactics and don’t they have special gear for such situations? And if they don’t, why not? Believe me, Antifa won’t be attacking police in riot gear. They specialize in ganging up on unarmed individuals.

Also, Outlaw continued to play down the significance and danger of Antifa and the violence seen last weekend. When commenting on Andy Ngo and the others who were injured, she said, “We don’t want anyone to be hurt at all. But it could have been a lot worse.’’

Seriously? Yes, I suppose it could have been worse if, for example, Andy was dead. But it was still pretty damned bad.

This entire announcement was peppered with precisely the wrong sort of half-answers and a lack of solutions to problems the Portland PD already knows they have. And the question of the Mayor’s leadership and his seeming acceptance of (if not veiled support for) Antifa violence against people with the wrong sorts of opinions still hangs over this entire situation. Here’s the video of the complete announcement.