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Clackamas County Receives Report of Antifa Activity
Heard of staged gas cans and chainsaws to cut telephone poles

As conspiracy theories swirl around about the causes of fires in Oregon, they are quickly countered by media and government organizations denying that Antifa has anything to do with causing the fires. Though proving a negative is hard to do, the word keeps going out that "there is nothing to see here -- move on."

During an emergency meeting of the Clackamas County Commission, commissioners discussed adding a curfew to their emergency ordinance and sought testimony from law enforcement. Since the Sheriff was not available, Captain Jeff Smith provided testimony, which sparked a discussion of whether to call in the National Guard.

Clackamas County Sheriff's Office Captain Jeff Smith: There are lots of confirmed reports of looting, mostly in the outlying areas, Estacada, Colton, Mollala, Sandy mostly in the outlying areas, lots of looting has been taking place burglaries and whatnot. There's reports of -- and this is not specific to an area -- but all over the county both outlying and even closer to the town, of people of extremist groups staging gas cans for later destruction and equally concerning is there are reports of people from other extremist groups -- it's not confirmed Antifa, but suspected Antifa -- this is more specific to the Estacada area -- reports and sightings of people armed with chainsaws and the goal was to fall telephone poles in hopes of starting further fires.

Commissioner Sonya Fischer: I'm not sure I understand when you say staging gas cans? Could you give a little more information about that?

Captain Smith: Specifically, staging full gas cans in sort of concealed type areas to later be used by themselves or by other members of their groups to initiate the starting of further fires.

Commission Chair Jim Bernard: This is some media thing. It hasn't been confirmed.

Captain Smith: No, that part has not. But the Antifa part, there have been reliable sightings and reports, not confirmed, but it's pretty specific, being armed with chainsaws, falling telephone polls in the hopes of starting further fires, and the looting and burglary in the outlying areas all over Clackamas County is definitely confirmed.

Commissioner Fischer: If this is happening, is there coordination with any other state or federal law enforcement in regards to these acts to increase resources? Is that necessary?

Captain Smith: I can't confirm any coordination with any federal law enforcement sources because I think most of them have been deployed in downtown Portland, but I can tell you that here in our Sheriff's [Emergency Operations Center] we have a member of the State Police in our section with us.

Commissioner Paul Savas: After hearing that from Captain Smith, I'm inclined [Chair] Jim [Bernard], we've got to make an appeal to the Governor to call in the National Guard. That's critical information. That's very unsettling. There's not enough law enforcement resources in the Sheriffs department to handle all that. I'm fine with the countywide curfew now, more than I was 15 minutes ago. We can't allow a deliberate attack on property and people's lives and just somehow leave the National Guard out there sitting at home waiting for the call.

Chair Bernard: I'd be happy to call the Governor.

Commissioner Fischer: Can I just ask a clarifying question, because I want to make sure that we aren't over-exaggerating the situation. I think law enforcement has the the best handle on when we would need to call in reinforcements or call in the National Guard, so could you give us some insight on that?

Captain Smith: I'm here speaking on behalf of the Sheriff, but IO would not want to decide on his behalf, so I'd prefer that he weigh in on that call to the Governor specifically. I'd hate to make that call on his behalf.

Commissioner Fischer: So I would suggest that we hold off on that call to the Governor. We want to make sure it's a real ask, if we're going to ask it and we make sure we have confirmation from the Sheriff that we need that. Or maybe we just say that we are concerned and we want you to know and that we want the National Guard on standby if necessary.

Commissioner Martha Schrader: So, I guess my question is how do we confirm that this is Antifa? You said that you've got it from reliable sources. You haven't captured anybody. What's a real solid way to confirm this, because I think that's the tipping point. And right now, we've been thinking they're just rumors, but now we're hearing maybe not.

Captain Smith: I know this came from a Sergeant on the street, but I don't know who his informants are at this time.

Commissioner Schrader: OK, but we'll really have to know that for sure, because we don't want to have another layer of panic out there.

Commissioner Fischer: The issue and I'm tied in -- I'm sure we all are -- with our connections in the outlying areas of Clackamas County but it's not only "is this Antifa?" but it's people's perception that there's a threat, so we have very strong members of our community that believe in protection of life, property and we could have some unrest, which we need to be measuring the pulse of that in our community, so it's beyond a specific group.

This is a video of the transcribed portion of the meeting. The first speaker is Clackamas County Sheriff's Office Captain Jeff Smith.

The entire, unedited video is up on YouTube.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-09-13 19:03:47Last Update: 2020-09-13 21:23:39

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