Multnomah County District Attorney (DA) Mike Schmidt says protesters who took part in George Floyd protests can only be charged with assault, theft or property damage in a new retroactive policy.
The policy comes as Schmidt says the DA’s office needs to “recognize that we will undermine public safety, not promote it, if we leverage the force of our criminal justice system against peaceful protestors who are demanding to be heard,” according to an official statement.
“We will presumptively decline to charge cases where the most serious offenses are city ordinance violations and crimes that do not involve deliberate property damage, theft, or the use or threat of force against another person,” according to Schmidt.
The DA will not prosecute those charged with interfering with a police officer, disorderly conduct, criminal trespass, harassment (when classified as a misdemeanor) or rioting unless accompanied by one of the three acceptable charges.
The statement also encourages prosecutors to apply strict scrutiny to cases regarding resisting arrest, saying prosecutors should consider “the chaos of a protesting environment, especially after tear gas or other less-lethal munitions have been deployed” and question whether the officers used probably cause in the first place.
Schmidt is also calling for charges to be dropped after victims, whose harm was financial, are compensated, or the charged individual has made amends to the community. (RELATED: ‘Pigs Go Home!’: Thousands Gather in Portland For Another Night Of Protests)
“We’re going to give people three months to make it right, to work with the victim to pay back any restitution, and if those things can happen or we can come up with a restorative resolution, we’re going to dismiss those cases,” Schmidt said, according to OPB.
There are roughly 550 misdemeanor and felony charges pending since protests began on May 29, NPR reported.
The announcement comes less than a week after Portland police declared a riot following the removal of federal troops. Protesters set fire to a police union building, with Portland Police calling the situation “dangerous” in a tweet.
A riot was declared after a group broke into the @PPAVigil offices, started a fire, and continued to feed the fire more fuel. This is a terribly dangerous situation. Officers moved the crowd so the fire could be extinguished before it could grow out of control. https://t.co/GyBrgqcK0e
— Portland Police (@PortlandPolice) August 9, 2020
Protesters also allegedly threw rocks, fireworks and other objects at officers during the protests.