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Protesters target Portland Commissioner Dan Ryan’s home after he votes against police cuts

Protesters once again targeted the North Portland home of Commissioner Dan Ryan Thursday night, hours after the city’s newest council member cast a deciding no vote on an $18 million cut to the police bureau.

A group of roughly 60 people marched from Arbor Lodge Park to the commissioner’s home in the pouring rain Thursday evening. Upon arrival, they chanted “Black lives matter” and shattered a window and two terracotta planters. They lit flares and chucked eggs and balloons filled with paint at the home.

The first of these late-night visits took place last week on the eve of an earlier council discussion on the 8% cut to the police bureau’s budget proposed by Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty.

During that previous visit, Ryan came outside after chants of “don’t be a villain, defund PPB by $18 million” and listened to the crowd for nearly an hour. Ryan received criticism that night for his handling of the press, after his fiancee told demonstrators to “check” the group of journalists covering the gathering. He won the support of some protesters on the ground for engaging as they urged him to support the cut.

On Wednesday, when the time came for a vote, Ryan came down firmly opposed. In a nine-minute speech to his colleagues, he stressed the importance of building bridges, floated the idea of the oft-fractured City Council taking part in a peace summit and rejected the cuts on the grounds they would undermine public safety.

“This 18 million proposal is a threat to our current public safety,” said Ryan, who was elected to the Council this summer to replace Commissioner Nick Fish, who died in January. “It is our responsibility to work together and meet the demands of constituents and present a plan that is impactful, grounded in data, sound budgeting and community engagement.”

Ryan was considered the swing vote. During his campaign he seemed open to further cutting the bureau’s budget and wrote on his campaign website that the city needed to “find ways to follow up on the $15 million cuts to the Portland Police budget with even more substantial cuts.” Since Thursday’s vote, Ryan’s campaign page has been taken down.

In a statement Friday, Ryan said protesters were using tactics of bullying and intimidation and asked that they “be accountable to one another, and think before they act.”

“I appreciate that members of our community are passionate. But trespassing at the home I share with my fiancé; disrupting and intimidating my neighbors and me - and vandalizing my property - is not a productive or safe way to express opinion," he wrote. "I have elderly neighbors and I fear for their safety and well-being.”

Both Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Hardesty also weighed in to condemn the vandalism at Ryan’s home.

“Last night’s criminal destruction and attack on Commissioner Ryan’s home are reprehensible. Violence, criminal destruction and intimidation are unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” Wheeler wrote. “Those responsible must be found, investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I condemn anyone who uses violence to attempt to silence the voices of others.”

Hardesty, who had expressed deep disappointment in her colleagues for rejecting her proposed police cuts, wrote that protesters had expressed their own displeasure in ways that crossed a clear line.

“I want to be clear: we can disagree and be upset over these issues, but I do not condone what took place at the Commissioner’s home last night and those who engaged in the acts need to be held responsible,” she wrote in a statement. “Fighting for systemic change is messy and complicated, but what shouldn’t be complicated is recognizing when lines have been crossed, and that’s what happened last night.”

According to a release from the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, Thursday marked the fourth night this week Ryan has seen crowds gather outside his home. Ryan is expected to comment later Friday.

Law enforcement teams disperse the crowd of protesters after they gathered outside the home of Portland City Commissioner Dan Ryan, Nov. 5, 2020.
Kristyna Wentz-Graff /
Law enforcement teams disperse the crowd of protesters after they gathered outside the home of Portland City Commissioner Dan Ryan, Nov. 5, 2020.

Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Rebecca Ellis