Lane County DA to prosecute riot-related property crimes

While some Black Lives Matter advocates are calling on the Lane County District Attorney's office to drop charges against those allegedly involved in May's riot, the DA's office said it plans to prosecute property-related crimes among others.

Posted: Aug 13, 2020 6:40 PM

LANE COUNTY, Ore. -- While some Black Lives Matter advocates are calling on the Lane County District Attorney's office to drop charges against those allegedly involved in May's riot, the DA's office said it plans to prosecute property-related crimes among others. 

According to the Eugene Police Department, 13 people have been arrested and jailed in connection to the riot, which took place on West 7th Avenue and Washington Street May 29 overnight into May 30. 

Local Black Lives Matter group BIPOC Liberation Collective posted on social media Wednesday asking supporters to call the DA's office to demand the charges against the alleged rioters be dropped. In the post, the organization said that black voices were being repressed and said, "Property doesn’t have feelings, people do."

RELATED: POLICE SEEK TIPS ON MORE THAN 60 SUSPECTS IN MAY RIOT

Lane County Prosecutor Chris Parosa said that the county will prosecute cases involving property damage, theft, and confrontations that threatened personal safety. 

"When the exercise of their constitutional rights begin to infringe on the rights of others, we have a problem in society and everyone's rights have to be protected. That's what we are trying to do with these prosecutions," he said.

Though the DA's office has received a number of contacts in regards to BIPOC Liberation Collective's campaign, Parosa said there are no plans to drop charges. 

"I don't know that it's helpful to blatantly say that all cops are bastards and things of that nature or to say that people's property rights should be ignored in favor of your ability to go out and protest and destroy property," he said.

Former criminal defense attorney Mike Arnold defended the leader of the group who occupied Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016. He said that on the spectrum between protest and riot, civil disobedience sometimes falls in a grey area that prosecutors and law enforcement need to be aware of. 

While property crimes and violence are criminal, there are blurred lines for some protesters. 

"In the real world when you are protesting and you have the fear of retaliation there may be some things that you do that you believe is to prevent violence against yourself, but if you're acting unreasonably may actually provoke others or worst-case scenario actually be violent or be the destruction of property," he said.

EPD is currently seeking information on more than 60 suspects identified at the riots. 

At least seven of those already arrested were arraigned last week.

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