A four-story billboard criticizing Multnomah County District Attorney (DA) Mike Schmidt has been erected in downtown Portland, sparking debate about the effectiveness of his policies. The billboard, located at 2nd and Washington Street, reads “Portland is a Schmidt show,” accompanied by a large image of Schmidt, and lists record crime, fewer prosecutions, and empty jail beds as evidence of the city’s decline.
The billboard was paid for by People for Portland, a self-described platform and voice for Portlanders to take action to rescue their “Broken City.” The organization has gained prominence through YouTube, print, and digital ad campaigns. Critics argue that Schmidt’s policies have led to increased crime rates, with record high numbers of shootings and homicides in 2021 and 2022.
Schmidt, who was elected in May 2020 with 75% of the vote, ran on a platform of ending mass incarceration and holding law enforcement accountable. City officials, including Schmidt, have blamed the violence in Portland on dwindling police ranks and a severe lack of public defenders. In response to the billboard, Schmidt’s office released a statement saying that they are prosecuting cases referred to them by law enforcement at the same rate as in 2018 and 2019, and that their focus is on successful outcomes, serving victims, holding offenders accountable, and reducing recidivism.
However, many Portland residents and observers argue that Schmidt’s policies are failing the city, with increasing crime and a lack of support for victims. With organizations like People for Portland gaining visibility, it remains to be seen whether the city will see any significant changes in its approach to crime and law enforcement.
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