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The resource-strapped Portland Police Bureau (PPB) reportedly took more than 20 minutes to respond when alleged antifa members assaulted a Saturday campaign event near police headquarters in downtown Portland.
By the time officers had “sufficient resources” to establish a crime scene near Southwest 3rd and Main Street, the black-clad demonstrators had already dispersed after hurling smoke grenades, paint-filled balloons and fireworks, according to police. Two were injured by “mortars,” police said.
The protesters’ violence cut short the event in support of Republican gubernatorial candidate Stan Pulliam, whose platform includes refunding the police.
“This is what happens when a Republican dares to hold an event in Portland to talk about funding our police. Antifa shows up,” Pulliam tweeted along with footage of the incident.
Pulliam also claimed the “underfunded police didn’t show in time to allow our free speech.”
Speaking to media after the incident, Pulliam said what he and his supporters experienced is what “neighbors throughout the Portland community have to experience on almost a daily basis.”
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“We called the police, we called 911,” he said. “In fact, at the Justice of Peace Center, we were just outside of their headquarters, sat on hold for over 20 minutes. No police officers ever arrive until the very end, just to take our statement.”
Pulliam contrasted when Portland had 30 officers per 100,000 people in the 1970s to the present-day ratio of eight per 100,000.
“And then we wonder why we have all the violence and destruction happening on our streets,” he added.
A statement from the PPB confirmed that while a sergeant began monitoring the situation and gathering available resources, there “were only a few officers available in the precinct.”
The incident came the same day PPB released a separate statement describing Friday night into Saturday as “an extraordinarily busy evening of significant events” that strained their resources. The night included five shootings, three serious crashes and one stolen ambulance within a 12-hour span.
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Officers responded to a call about shots fired and people throwing objects off an overpass while a protest “convoy” driving through Portland was confronted by a group of counter-demonstrators.
Given limited staffing, Portland residents calling 911 are often left on hold for hours during evening spikes in calls, which police are forced to prioritize calls based on seriousness.
“We’re pretty good, generally, at deploying resources to the area of the highest need. It’s been a while since I could say that I feel like we have enough cops to do everything that we want to do to keep the public safe,” Sgt. Kevin Allen told local ABC affiliate KATU.
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Neither PPB nor Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office responded to a request for comment in time for publication.