Portland residents Damian Bunting and Angela Todd relay concerns over case dismissals as Oregon sees a shortage of public defenders.
Portland, Oregon, residents are sounding the alarm on the city's crime crisis after more than 300 criminal cases in the area were dismissed, including some related to felony theft, possession of a stolen vehicle, gun charges and more.
As Oregon faces a public defender shortage, residents say they wish they were surprised by the news, but activist district attorneys and a flawed justice system have culminated in a far more significant dilemma over time.
"We're paying these public defenders slowly, and we're paying them badly, and they don't want to work for the state. The state controls this," area resident Angela Todd said Thursday on "Fox & Friends First."
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Kevin Dahlgren, a drug and alcohol counselor, approaches a man in a wheelchair who is missing both his legs. A woman wrapped in a blanket lies on the sidewalk nearby. (Hannah Ray Lambert/Fox News Digital)
Todd suggested the city is using the public defender shortage as a scapegoat to overlook other issues contributing to the crime crisis.
"There's so many problems in our justice system. Our vicious and continuous catch and release program, for example, is horrendous. We arrest people, we release them, they have a warrant, they fail to appear, and it just keeps going and going and going. ... It's disgusting," she elaborated.
Damian Bunting, another Portland resident, previously called out the city's alleged drug problem in an Instagram reel posted in January, demanding action while pointing to an encampment outside his own front door.
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Kevin Dahlgren, a drug and alcohol counselor, looks into an empty tent erected near occupied tents on a Portland, Oregon, sidewalk on Feb. 17, 2023. (Hannah Ray Lambert/Fox News Digital)
He told Fox News' Ashley Strohmier on Thursday that the problem is less centered around homelessness and more focused on perpetuating drug addiction.
"The city of Portland and, by way of that, the state of Oregon, it continues to facilitate it [the problem]. Measure 110, providing free needles and drug paraphernalia. We have created — and when I say ‘we,' I mean the people who were here well before I got here — have created an asylum for people who are seeking refuge to live this way of life, and it's having horrible consequences," he said.
Bunting also alleged that an "activist district attorney" has helped "facilitate the problem" himself.
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Almost 800 people are currently waiting for a public defender in Oregon, and 76 of them are behind bars. Some of the cases have sat idle for weeks or even months, according to Oregon Judicial Department data.
Amid the crisis, businesses like Walmart are pulling out of the area. While the company cited "financial reasons" for its withdrawal, the decision comes just months after CEO Doug McMillon sounded the alarm over retail theft wreaking havoc on stores across the nation.
"Right now, you're seeing multiple businesses pull out of the Portland area, everything from Starbucks to Walmart, they're taking their business across the border to Washington or just into neighboring counties," Bunting said.
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He continued: "I think the only natural thing for [criminals] to do is to go into the houses. I think that, for the people that are living in these areas, unfortunately in my neighborhood as well, we're going to see a rise in home break-ins, we're going to see a rise in car theft and vandalism and petty crime, and it's going to become much more dangerous for the people that are living here, that voted for this."
Todd, who runs @PDX.REAL on Instagram to share community-focused reporting from Portland, said the page is growing "very quickly" and the public is becoming increasingly aware of the crime and police shortage issues plaguing their area.
Fox News' Hannah Ray Lambert contributed to this report.
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