August 20 2021
Elisabeth Shepard, Communications Director
DA Schmidt’s prepared remarks, Choose Love: A Community Gathering to Denounce Hate and Violence in Portland
PORTLAND, Ore. – Today, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt joined Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, Metro President Lynn Peterson, Multnomah County Chair Kafoury, and several community leaders to address hate and violence in our community. A recording of this virtual event was live streamed and may be viewed retroactively here. A copy of DA Schmidt’s prepared remarks are below:
“I am struck with gratitude today seeing so many members of the community stand in solidarity to rise above hate and violence. Thank you. We are here today because we understand that there’s going to be an event this Sunday that may lead to hate and violence. I continue to condemn these things. They have no legitimate purpose. The right— the duty even— to peacefully protest and say what you believe in is undermined by these acts.
In my role as Multnomah County District Attorney, I interface with victims of hate and violence everyday. In my office we advocate for justice, not by asking “what’s the longest sentence we can get?” but by asking what is best for the victim? What will reduce the chances of the defendant committing crime again? And, what is best for the community? As I was contemplating this conversation I wondered what it would look like if we applied these principles to the people we disagree with. Repairing the hurt, finding pathways to growth so we don’t repeat the same mistakes again and fostering better outcomes in our communities.
We know that people across the ideological spectrum feel frustrated and disenfranchised. It’s an uncomfortable truth. We know that those experiences can lead to movements for reform like the movement for Black Lives. But they can also lead to radicalization, violence and distrust in our systems. Look at what happened at our nation’s Capitol on January 6 of this year. The latter often brings people to my doorstep as DA. We also know, or I believe we have the ability to learn, that when we seek resolution over violence, accountability over vengeance and most importantly recognize one another’s humanity over opinions we move away from more victimization and disenfranchisement. To me, that sounds a lot like choosing love.
We have seen death in our community from events like the one scheduled on Sunday. Two last year, one associated with Patriot Prayer and another with Antifa. These homicides are the antithesis of why we must approach conflict differently. This is not a game. Our community has been through a lot together, before and since. We must continue to rise to the occasion and prevent anything like this from happening again.
We are in a pivotal time right now. We cannot afford to allow the progress we’ve made to be overshadowed by violence and hate. I am asking those who may choose to participate in Sunday’s event to consider these words of caution, but they are also words of hope. Once more, thanks again to all attending today’s event and for those that share these values who are at work today, caring for a loved one or in a classroom. Thank you.”