1/22/23 News Update


<<A Portland woman, QAnon adherent who espoused antisemitic views and frequently attended local far-right demonstrations in the region pleaded guilty Wednesday for her role in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. She is one of nine people with Oregon and Southwest Washington ties to be charged for their participation in the insurrection and only the third to plead guilty. None have gone to trial yet.

Lilith Saer, 30, was arrested in July and charged with intent to impede or disrupt an official proceeding in a restricted building and with parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a capitol building. She pleaded guilty to parading in the Capitol. The second charge was dropped.>>

Saer’s involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection was initially flagged for the FBI by two tipsters who recognized her in photographs from inside the Capitol. In an affidavit filed in federal court, an FBI special agent said he spoke with three people who knew Saer and saw her “on a routine weekly basis.” The agent showed each person photographs from Jan. 6 of someone believed to be Saer and each confirmed it was her. She is also seen in several videos and on security camera footage from inside the capitol.

“The defendant willfully and knowingly entered the U.S. Capitol Building and its Grounds knowing that she did not have permission to do so,” a statement of offense filed in federal court Friday says. “Defendant further admits that while inside the Capitol, defendant willfully and knowingly paraded, demonstrated, or picketed.”

After exiting the building, the statement says Saer remained on the East Plaza listening to Jacob Chansley speak. Chansley, known as the QAnon shaman, quickly rose to notoriety after he was photographed on Jan.6 shirtless, face painted, holding a spear and wearing a bison-horned fur headdress in the Senate chamber.

For years, Saer, who was arrested in Portland, has attended far-right rallies with Patriot Prayer and espoused antisemitic views online.

Eight other people with ties to the region have been charged for participating in the insurrection.>>

<<Jonathanpeter Allen Klein, a self-identified Proud Boy, and his brother Matthew Leland Klein were arrested in March 2021 and face six charges, including conspiracy to defraud the government and destruction of government property, a felony. The Proud Boys are a far-right group that frequently engages in violence at protests. Though they are not from Oregon, the group’s leader, Enrique Tarrio, and four other members are currently on trial for seditious conspiracy for their role in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

The Klein brothers also participated in violent protests in Portland and Salem in the months before Jan. 6. They are not currently in custody but their case is still open and their lawyers are negotiating with federal prosecutors over a possible plea agreement.

Reed Knox Christensen was arrested in Portland in April 2021 and is facing nine charges including assaulting, resisting or impeding officers and acts of physical violence in the Capitol. In court filings, federal prosecutors said Christensen pushed and hit police officers, tried to breach metal barriers, and struck multiple U.S. Capitol Police officers.

Up until a year before the insurrection, Christensen served in a leadership role on the Washington County Republican Party’s Central Committee. Christensen is released on bond pending a trial.

Richard Lee Harris was arrested in Florida in March 2021 and charged with five counts including assaulting, resisting or impeding officers, obstruction of an official proceeding, and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building. Before traveling to Washington D.C. for Jan 6, Harris was at a protest in Salem where he was filmed pushing a photojournalist.

He pleaded guilty to harassment and was fined $100. During the insurrection, a man who appears to be Harris was filmed yelling at Capitol police officers that they are outnumbered and to stand down.

“There’s a fucking million of us out there, and we are listening to Trump, your boss,” he appeared to yell at the officers.

Harris’ trial is scheduled for June.

Jeffrey Grace, from Battle Ground, Washington, was arrested in February 2021 and faces four charges stemming from his participation in the Jan. 6 insurrection, all misdemeanors. His case is still open. Months after his arrest, Grace was armed at violent protests in Portland and El Paso, Texas. That prompted a judge to modify his conditions of release to prohibit him from owning firearms and other weapons.

“This modification is necessary in light of Grace’s escalating behavior and his willingness to bring his firearm and other weapons to engage in pre-planned conflicts,” acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Channing Phillips wrote in his petition to modify Grace’s terms of release.

Jeffrey Grace’s son, Jeremy Grace, from Molalla, Oregon, was arrested in May 2021. He was initially charged with four misdemeanors but pleaded guilty to “Entering and Remaining in a Restricted Building” and the remaining charges were dropped. He was sentenced in August 2022 to 21 days in jail, 12 months of supervised release, 60 hours of community service and a $500 fine.

Jeremy Hubbard was arrested in Lincoln City in December 2021 and charged with four misdemeanors, including “Parading, Demonstrating, or Picketing in a Capitol Building.” He pleaded guilty to that charge in November 2022 and the three others were dropped. The parading charge carries a maximum six months in prison but Hubbard hasn’t been sentenced yet.

Marc Anthony Bru was arrested in March 2021 in Vancouver. He was indicted in May on seven counts including obstruction of congress and obstruction of law enforcement. According to court filings, to identify Bru, the FBI relied in part on the popular anti-fascist Twitter account PNW Resistance which investigates and identifies members of far-right groups. In photos included in the probable cause affidavit, Bru is seen pointing a handgun at the camera and flashing the “OK” sign — thumb and forefinger making a circle — a hand sign popular among white nationalists and far-right groups.

A January 2020 video posted online shows a shirtless Bru being initiated into the Proud Boys. Bru, again holding up the “OK” sign, says he is “a proud western chauvinist” and refuses “to apologize for creating the modern world.” A number of people then punch him while he struggles to recite the names of five breakfast cereals. Bru has also been identified in photos and videos from multiple violent Proud Boys rallies in Portland.

He is released on bond and his trial is scheduled for April 17, 2023.

Saer is scheduled to be sentenced on April 4. She faces a maximum six months in prison, five years probation and a $5,000 fine.>>



<<Portland police hired 80 new officers in the past year, but more than half of them haven’t even started their training.

They must wait up to five months for a seat in one of the state’s police basic training academy classes.

After hiring practically ground to a halt during the height of the pandemic and social unrest, Portland and other police agencies across the state have resurrected their stalled recruitment programs and are gradually filling vacancies.

“It created a bubble larger than we could actually address,” said Brian Henson, acting director of the state Department of Public Safety Standards and Training.

Since September, the state agency has gone back to the Legislature’s emergency board to ask for money to add four more classes to the usual 16 basic training classes planned per biennium.

But that still won’t meet the need, Henson said.

Each basic police academy class is open to 40 students, but Portland police are allotted only a certain number of seats in each class.

As a result, at least 46 new recruits from Portland have yet to begin their training.

While they wait, some have been assigned to help manage the bureau’s uniforms and gear, assist in Portland’s Sunshine Division, which provides food for the needy, or serve as role players for in-house training on crowd control and public order — anything but street patrol where they’re needed most.>>

<<The Police Bureau remains 80 sworn officers shy of its authorized number of 882.

The basic training backlog exacerbates the shortfall, he said.

People calling police to respond to emergency calls waited an average of 17.8 minutes for an officer’s response between June and December, according to police figures.

In October, it took police an average of 20.4 minutes to arrive at a scene on a high-priority call.

Those are high above the citywide goal of responding to high-priority calls – such as an assault or robbery in progress – in five minutes or less.

Police supervisors believe response times will fall when the new officers can finally hit the streets and fill patrol vacancies. The bureau also will be able to do more proactive missions to target significant crimes once it fills the vacancies, the chief said.>>

<<The basic training class lasts 16 weeks but it essentially starts the clock on an 18-month probation period before Portland officers can respond to calls on their own.

Almost 100 recruits currently remain in training, working to complete their probationary period, including those still waiting to get into basic training, police said.

Four new officers sworn in on Thursday won’t be able to begin training at the academy until June or July, Yakots said.

“We’re trying to put them to good use, but we just can’t put them to work in what they came here to do,” he said.

Last week, for instance, a handful of recruits attended a breakfast at a hotel in downtown Portland, where the chief, Multnomah County’s new sheriff and the district attorney addressed the Portland Business Alliance about public safety in the city.

The bureau is reluctant, Yakots said, to allow new hires to help answer non-emergency calls or write reports on stolen cars or low-level crimes because they have no training or experience asking the right questions needed to initiate an investigation.

The state’s effort to add extra classes helps shave several weeks off the current five-month wait, Yakots said.>>

<<In September, the Legislature’s emergency board increased the public safety department’s spending by $1.28 million to add two basic training classes. In December, the board provided the same amount for another two classes. It costs about $640,000 to cover meals, lodging, ammunition and instruction for 40 students in each class. Funding comes from the state’s criminal fines account.

The extra money was above the approximately $10 million already set aside for the state training division’s traditional 16 basic police classes planned from July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2023.>>

<<Other police agencies face a similar dilemma as Portland.

While the Salem Police Department now has just two recruits waiting eight to 10 weeks for basic training, the department expects the training needs to only increase.

The department is authorized for 199 officers and has 22 vacancies.>>

<<Elsewhere, vacancies continue to fill at police agencies around Oregon, fueling the need for basic training:

    Oregon State Police: The agency is authorized for 766 sworn members and has 106 vacancies. Capt. Kyle Kennedy said he didn’t have the numbers of recruits awaiting an academy start date. But the agency hired 84 officers last year – far more than the 46 in 2021 and 39 in 2020.

    Eugene: The department is authorized for 223.5 officers and has 26 vacancies. Spokesperson Melinda V. McLaughlin said new hires typically must wait eight to 10 weeks before they can start their basic training at the state academy.

    Both Oregon State Police and Eugene police hold pre-academies before sending new hires to the state’s basic police academy. Eugene’s pre-academy also acts as a place holder until the recruits can attend the state’s basic academy, McLaughlin said.

    Portland police hold a 12-week advanced academy for recruits after they complete the state’s basic academy.

    Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office: Authorized 570 sworn positions; has 41 vacancies. Hired 87 new sworn members in 2022. Recently hired deputy sheriffs are having to wait four to five months for the state’s basic training academy.>>