APortlandattorney called out anOregondistrict attorney for violating “fundamental principles of equal protection of the laws” by decidingnot to prosecutehundreds of Portland protestors.
“We have a prosecutor who has discarded centuries of common sense about criminal law and deterrents and incapacitation and all the other benefits of arresting people for the purpose of promoting public disorder in Portland,” attorney James Buchal told “Fox & Friends First” on Thursday.
Buchal made the comments two days after Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced that charges will be dropped against protesters who were arrested and accused of interfering with a peace officer or parole and probation officer; disorderly conduct; criminal trespass; escape; harassment and riot, unless they were accompanied by some other charge of physical violence or property damage.
“The protesters are angry … and deeply frustrated with what they perceive to be structural inequities in our basic social fabric, and this frustration can escalate to levels that violate the law,” Schmidt said. “This policy acknowledges that centuries of disparate treatment of our black [sic] and brown communities have left deep wounds and that the healing process will not be easy or quick.”
Host Jillian Mele noted on Thursday that only “45 of the 550 cases that police referred are being prosecuted.”
She then asked Buchal what type of precedent the move sets, not only in Portland, but in cities across the country.
“It sets the precedent that if you are providing the preferred message of the Democratic Party machines, that you are insulated from criminal law,” Buchal said. “Essentially it takes criminal conduct and it says, ‘Oh, this is First Amendment conduct, but if anybody on the right wing does it, it’s still criminal conduct’ and it violates fundamental principles of equal protection of the laws.”
Portland has been rocked by demonstrations for months following the May 25 death ofGeorge Floydin Minneapolis police custody.
Demonstrations in the Oregon city that began peacefully have regularly descended into chaos as police and protesters have clashed outside of precincts in the north and east of the city, the police union headquarters and a building that houses police offices downtown.
Buchal said others “have been prosecuted in the past in Portland for the same conduct” and there is a “powerful case for essentially an unconstitutional prosecution.”
“We’re not supposed to be using the criminal law as a means of shutting down one kind of dissent and promoting another,” he added.
“We have people in Portland who have been prosecuted for literally doing nothing except standing in front of a crowd ofAntifapeople and holding up a cell phone camera and saying, ‘Look these are the Antifa people and they’re rioting.’ They’ve been prosecuted and at the same time you have people who are violently attacking the police and shooting fireworks and throwing paint bombs at them … and those are the people that are all given a pass,” he explained.