Police focus on protection of life over protection of property

Local businesses were the target of all the frustration and hate from Friday night. When protesters began vandalizing local businesses, that's when EPD stepped in.

Posted: May 30, 2020 7:26 PM
Updated: May 31, 2020 3:21 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Friday night’s protest was a culmination of built-up anger and frustration.

According to Eugene Police Chief Chris Skinner, there’s been some events in the past, including George Floyd’s death, that undermine the improvement made between police and communities of color.

Local businesses were the target of all the frustration and hate. When protesters began breaking down store windows, stealing and victimizing the owners, that’s when police stepped in.

"What's really frustrating quite honestly is what started out as a free speech movement and had a really good message to it, turned very violent and became a criminal movement,” said Skinner. “It just breaks my heart for this community and this business community that over the last 12 weeks we've all been hunkered down trying to survive this pandemic and we understood that there was going to be some recovery. But now they have to recover from this as well."

Unfortunately, owners will have to recover from damages estimated up to $100,000.

Despite several businesses being vandalized, no arrests were made, and that was intentional. Skinner felt that police presence during a protest of this magnitude would cause more harm than good.

Police wanted to give people the necessary space to be heard and express their level of frustration. Not in the manner of what transpired, however. The destruction that was made has consequences.

"We have good video and we will be conducting a full investigation,” said Skinner. “We are appropriately holding people accountable. This is not one of those investigations where we take a look at it for a week and see if we can make an arrest. This is a yearlong investigation. If you think about the volume of victims that we will hear from today, it's going to be hundreds of victims."

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