Several Oregon residents in Clackamas County have reportedly taken the law into their own hands. Fearing looters, residents have been stopping unfamiliar drivers at gunpoint. The Oregon county is under an evacuation order due to the wildfires.
The local sheriff said several people in the county have formed armed checkpoints and stopped cars. He urged these residents to stop pulling weapons on people.
“The first thing I’d ask them to do is please stop that,” Sheriff Craig Roberts said during a conference. “It is illegal to stop somebody at gunpoint.”
The sheriff said his department have reached out to “a number” of the people responsible. Most of the county is under an evacuation order. Many people, including those residents have stopped, have reentered the area to retrieve personal belongings from their properties. There are at least five wildfires burning in Clackamas County including two major fires.
“The last thing I want to see is anything tragically happen because somebody is overreacting to something,” Roberts said. Recently, dispatchers received a 400 percent increase in calls for “suspicious people” in the county since the fires started. According to the sheriff, most reports turned out to be false alarms. But his department did make a small number of arrests.
Some residents have refused to evacuate from the wildfires.
Despite the evacuation orders, some residents remain in their homes to “defend” their property and belongings. For instance, these residents have crafted homemade signs warding off looters. One sign read “Looters Get Shot.”
According to CNN, there have been unsubstantiated reports of looting and political groups starting fires. County officials remain divided on the validity of these reports.
Captain Jeff Smith of the county sheriff’s department said a sergeant reported members of Antifa cutting down telephone poles with chainsaws. Antifa is a broad term for groups of far-left protesters. Informants gave the sergeant this information, and it hasn’t been verified elsewhere.
During an emergency meeting, several members of the Board of County Commissioners felt skeptical of Antifa’s involvement. The board met to determine whether they should impose a curfew in the county. Additionally the FBI’s branch in Portland and neighboring Oregon sheriff’s departments have debunked reports of Antifa.