Fred Henneke, Attorney & Counselor-At-Law
Our Constitution, which I revere, guarantees us the right to peacefully assemble and to petition the government for redress of our grievances. Fundamental, essential rights fought for during the Revolution and honored ever since.
Nowhere in the Constitution is there a right to riot and destroy public or private property. That constitutes criminal behavior and should be dealt with and punished according to the law.
I wasn’t in Portland and have no information other than what I have seen and heard on television and read from multiple sources. However, it appears to me that the protests supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and social justice for all began peacefully and stayed that way for a few days. It also appears to me that the protests were largely peaceful throughout the day and early evening, after which many of the protesters left. It was only late at night or early morning when the protests turned violent. That suggests to me that the instigators of the violence and destruction waited until they could hide in the shadows before instigating the violence and destruction that drew martial response from those protecting the federal courthouse and other structures.
I also believe that sending in the federal forces to protect the federal court house and for other purposes had the effect of inflaming and escalating the violence and confrontations. It was not a pretty picture nor was the influx of outsiders confronting the protesters one that fit our ideals. I don’t think the presence of the federal forces calmed the situation at all; I think the violent protests just ran their course and faded away.
Is there any justification for the riots and destruction? HELL NO!. Was there legal basis for President Trump sending the federal law enforcement forces to “protect the federal courthouse”? Apparently Yes. Do I believe that is why they were dispatched to Portland? No. To me, sending in the troops was all about enhancing the President’s “law and order” campaign theme.
What should have been done differently? The local and state officials – the mayor, governor, etc.,- should have/could have taken a number of steps to prevent violence and preserve public and private property. The Oregon National Guard could have been called in to preserve order; a curfew could have been established to clear the streets earlier and give the Portland police legal cause to stop and detain after the curfew deadline; protests could be restricted to large public areas such as parks away from the flash points of downtown. Were any of these done? No. Why? Who knows – fear, politics, affinity with the protesters, etc.
It was an ugly scene and ultimately was futile. No one is going to negotiate at the barrel of a gun (figuratively) and no solutions come out of riots. Simply a failure of leadership at all levels.
REMEMBER TO VOTE. It is the ultimate solution.