July 25 Protests and Riot Response
We have received a lot of messages from the community following a Black Lives Matter (BLM) demonstration on the night of Saturday, July 25, 2020, and the subsequent declaration of a riot.
What is being done about aggressive counter protesters?
Some of the concerns raised are about the presence of armed counter-protestors. There are indications that some counter-protestors may have come to Eugene from elsewhere with the intent of escalating tensions in our city.
The Eugene Police Department (EPD) is aware that a counter-protestor discharged a weapon and that there are allegations that others were impersonating EPD officers as well as allegations that counter-protestors used pepper spray on peaceful BLM protestors.
The person who illegally discharged their weapon was arrested.
EPD is also asking for video evidence and witness testimony regarding the allegations of impersonating officers and using pepper spray.
Why was a teenage girl arrested?
Many of those who contacted us are also deeply concerned about EPD’s arrest of a teenage girl, as shown in a widely circulated video.
After a peaceful protest that lasted several hours, several small groups with unknown affiliations began to block roadways with newsstands and other objects and throw rocks at officers, some baseball-sized, hitting several of them.
EPD issued warnings to the crowd before moving in to arrest those who were actively involved in rioting and property damage. The teen who was arrested was observed blocking the street with large items and throwing rocks.
The goal of officers on the scene was to reduce the damage and violent activity and avoid using tear gas or other less-lethal crowd control measures by making strategic arrests of those actively involved in rioting and property damage.
Restraining force was used to place the teen under arrest. She was taken to the ground and handcuffed. The video shows that she was not tasered or punched, as some of the messages we have received claim.
Officers were not aware that the teen was a minor at the time of arrest. As soon as officers became aware of her age, she was released to her parents and cited for Riot, Interfering and Resisting Arrest.
Why wasn’t the counter-protester who hit a person on a bike arrested?
At around the same time, video shows that a young person on a bike was struck by a counter-protestor. EPD officers were engaged in arresting the teen at this time and could not immediately intervene.
Officers are asking the public for help to identify the counter-protester and young person on the bike as well as collecting any additional video evidence people can share. Please email Detective Jeffrey Baugh or call him at 541-682-5292.
What is being done about the use of force in this situation?
Allegations from community members of inappropriate use of force have been passed to the Eugene Police Auditor, which exists independently of EPD.
Investigations conducted by the Police Auditor include a review of the entire context of the situation including video footage from bystanders and police body cams.
Where the Auditor finds that policies were not followed, they recommend actions to hold officers to account.
What is the City doing to address the protests?
As protests continue in our community there is a need to balance the right to lawful protest with interventions to stop illegal and destructive activity.
We are very aware of agitators in other cities who have engaged in the destruction of property with the aim of discrediting peaceful protests for police reform.
We know that there is a lot of uncertainty in the community at this time. The City of Eugene and our Police Department will continue to support and facilitate peaceful protests while also meeting our obligation to protect life, safety and property within our community.
The City Council is committed to engaging communities of color in reviewing police policies and the City’s investments in community safety to address police reform and structural racism. We have already started this process and will keep engaging with folks of color to make sure that it results in lasting and meaningful change.