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Local Officials/Corporate Press Jeopardize Public Safety

As a result of the continuing lag in the economy and mismanagement of funds by city officials, Portland will face another round of public services. The Portland Police and Fire Safety budget will have to be cut by an additional $4 million, according to a recent local TV news report. During a period when local officials have recently released scores of inmates, which officials blame on budget shortfalls, large amounts of resources continue to be needlessly wasted.
Not long ago, Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Giusto claimed that an additional 300-500 inmates would have to be released from prison if his department did not receive additional funds. However, during the recent demonstrations protesting the unjustified and illegal war on Iraq waged by former Texas Governor George W. Bush, Giusto claimed to have unlimited jail space for the protestors. Under the supervision of Police Chief Mark Kroeker, the City spent more than $1 million in overtime pay in an effort to intimidate local citizens away from exercising their constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech and assembly. Portland Mayor Vera Katz unflinchingly supported the aggressive repression of dissent, even as she received a steady stream of reports of police violence and abuse. The District Attorney appears determined to squander more resources to prosecute citizens on mostly bogus charges, in an already overburdened court system.

Along with their reputation for rude and unprofessional behavior, many Portland Police officers have a long history of using excessive force while dealing with the public. Provocation is a common police tactic used in an effort to provide justification for attacking non-violent demonstrators. When this tactic fails, as it generally does, they simply attack people outright. The Mayday celebration a couple of years back, and the August 22, 2002 visit by former Texas Governor, George W. Bush are poignant examples of this.

During the Bush visit, the police became nervous about the number of people that were showing up to display their disgust. They decided to deploy chemical weapons on the demonstrators in an effort to disperse them, in at least one case pepper-spraying an infant, and in another pepper-spraying a local corporate journalist. Widespread police violence has been directed against the monthly Critical Mass bike ride for some time, including chemical weapons, taser guns, and hands-on physical attacks. Portland Police also frequently assault cyclists by driving into them with motorcycles. Often these motorcycles are driven at 20-30 miles per hour along Portland sidewalks putting pedestrians and bystanders at grave risk.

This violent police behavior appears to have gotten worse in recent months. In light of the numerous lawsuits stemming from the recent police abuse, why isn't the situation improving? There are several factors contributing to this. City officials, led by Mayor Vera Katz, have consistently favored the protection of the local business community over the protection of average citizens. Katz supports massive anti-free-market tax subsidies and favors to organizations like OHSU. She strongly supported the failed revival of Civic Stadium, and now supports a massive public loan to attract big league baseball to Portland. Even after the recent Water Bureau billing disaster, she supports wasting millions more to cover the historic reservoirs of Portland, in order to provide questionable protection against an imaginary threat. She has shown blatant contempt for non-business related public opinion, and fought to militarize the police force by endorsing the Orwellian Portland Joint Terrorism Task Force. Katz has also worked hard to insure that the independent police conduct review mechanism remains ineffective.

Police Chief Mark Kroeker probably deserves the lion's share of the credit for Portland Police violence, however. After his experience as a key player in the notoriously corrupt Los Angeles Police Department, he took what he had learned and brought it to Portland. Under his leadership, the Portland Police have demonstrated a gross lack of training in conflict resolution. Kroeker appears to endorse overwhelming force and preemptive police aggression. He even went as far as to decorate the officer who is responsible for the murder of Jose Mejia Poot. Since his officers are routinely encouraged to deploy weapons against peaceful non-resisting demonstrators, it is not surprising that they use deadly force when dealing with a more hectic situation, such as in the case of the police murder of an unarmed woman earlier this week.

The March 2003 anti-war demonstrations marked a noticeable ratcheting up of police abuse. After being ridiculously outmaneuvered, the police eventually moved violently against the demonstrators and attempted to teach them a lesson. The Portland Police deployed several types of weapons, and many of the overwhelmingly non-violent demonstrators were held in jail for long periods without access to bathrooms or water, and while unnecessarily restrained in nerve damaging wrist restraints. The local press continued to focus on the tiny fraction of demonstrators that were involved in more aggressive forms of resistance, in an effort to demonize the entire group and provide justification for the shameful police behavior. In one case, a local television news team was denied their constitutionally protected press freedom as an officer pounded on the side of their news van with his nightstick and demanded that they leave.

The local press has been crucial in maintaining the police repression by falsely painting the protestors as violent troublemakers, while systematically ignoring police abuses. In the days following the start of the war, officers of the Portland Police Bureau began to violently arrest people for ridiculously minor offenses such as jaywalking, and in many cases even fabricated charges against people who were not committing any offense whatsoever. In this environment, the local press consistently and dutifully supported the escalating police repression, even as one of their own colleagues fell victim to a violent police takedown- allegedly for touching the bicycle of a police officer.

Even prior to these events, many of the Portland Police officers have displayed their inability to understand and follow the law, much less enforce it. Many police cruisers as well as other motorists routinely fail to use turn signals, stop prior to entering intersections when required, respect the speed limit, or yield to pedestrians. Many local police officers clearly favor the imagined rights of the motorist over the actual rights of pedestrians and cyclists.

Additional Portland Police budget cuts could prove to be a blessing. The city could take this opportunity to eliminate expensive, ill advised, and dangerous programs such as mounted police and the PJTTF (Portland Joint Terrorism Task Force). They could purge dangerous and unprofessional officers from the ranks, such as Officer Kruger and Officer Rowley. Finally, the Portland Police would be far better off without Chief Kroeker. His incompetence is unmistakable, and his salary would be much better spent shoring up the budget shortfalls of the city, or providing conflict resolution and/or motor vehicular law enforcement training to the many valuable members on the force. No leadership at all would undoubtedly be and improvement over his.

As for Vera Katz, she could go a long way towards regaining some respect if she were to publicly apologize for her gross mismanagement, mean spirited leadership, and anti-public policies, and donate her salary to the city fund.
Interesting 09.May.2003 05:57

mind_prey

All that fairly decent information and half truths. You do realize that the polls for police action for anti war protest were 93% aggainst the protester, wanting the Portland Police to step up an do more.

Although I'd have to agree the stat and some of its budgeting pratices are scary to say the least.

I wonder what would hapen if the state was audited?

Re: Interesting 09.May.2003 08:54

Many Hats

You may find it interesting that 93 percent supported repression against anti-war demonstrators but we are supposed to have a Bill Of Rights in our constitution which protects the rights of minorities against the herd mentality. What ever happened to that?

93% 09.May.2003 09:13

yeh, right

So you saw on the corporate media that "polls" showed that 93% of people who responded to the "unscientific polls" said they were in favor of police violence. Pull your fucking head out. I don't mean to be nasty, but you've been posting the most mindless stuff on this site suddenly. Who told you bush won the election? Yes! The corporate media. But did he? No. Who told you most of us think bush is doing a good job? Yes! The corporate media. Is he? No. Who told you Iraq had weapons of mass destruction with which they were threatening the US? Yes! The corporate media! But did they? No. Who told you Afghanistan and Iraq (and now probably Syria) had something to do with the world trade center disaster? Yes! The corporate media! Did they? No. Who calls it "tax reform" when millionaires get huge tax breaks? Who called the fascist murdering Contras in Nicaragua "freedom fighters"? Who calls it "free enterprise" when a few corporate elites run this economy like a serfdom? Who told us "we" were fighting for freedom and democracy in Iraq, in Panama, in Afghanistan, in [insert latest country here]? Yes! The corporate media to all the above.

Mind prey, your mind has been prey to your television set. Turn it off before you become a danger to yourself and others.

Picture This 09.May.2003 13:56

Hi There

Watcha gonna do?

step into reality 09.May.2003 14:15

AK

To the trolls,

Before you start justifying police brutality right here in the Rosy City of Portland, I recommend that you participate in a peaceful protest of some sort where you are exercising your First Admendment Rights. In short order, you will find yourself on the wrong end of a pepper spray cannister or face down on the pavement with blood oozing from your forehead and with an out of control riot cops laughing at your predicament.

I was there and I saw the unprovoked attacks by police on law abiding citizens. For you to understand reality, perhaps the only way is to ask you what you're gonna do when they come for you...with the way our police state is evolving and with Patriot 2 Act McCarthiism like tactics, they will eventually come for everybody. Remember what that priest said in Hitler's Germany...

Compassion, compassion, compassion...police should not be fatally shooting and beating up unarmed citizens. Peace.

More Evidence 09.May.2003 14:42

Public Grunt

Multnomah County Aging and Disability services is preparing to further cut services to some of the most vulnerable members of our community. The money to sustain these services has been spent, some of it in the name of beefing up the police state. People whose job it is to protect the health and safety of older people and people with disabilities are being laid off. Soon, no one will be looking out for the interests of people who are no longer able to take care of themselves. But there will still be plenty of police on the streets to keep commerce going. Thanks, Vera.

Cut the Cops, Not Needed Services 09.May.2003 15:52

PDX Citizen

More police cuts would be great. I'm tired of being terrorized by armed thugs on the streets. I saw a man thrown to the ground and hit in the head with a cannister of pepper spray because he was part of a protest in downtown Portland. He was on the sidewalk, and broke no laws. But they threw him down into the street, beat him, sprayed him, and hit him in the head with the cannister.

You didn't see that in the corporate media.

While the media showed us skewed images of what was happening, they reported that a high percentage of people favored the police response. If you weren't down there yourself, you would have had no way of knowing what was actually happening, because the corporate media was lying about it. I can't figure out why people let them lie to us, or why people would support terrorists on our streets. I'm not sure they are. As Yeh Right said, the polls that say the people accept police violence come from the same sources that tell us bush is not illegitimate.

I've watched police driving their motorcycles and riding their bikes on the sidewalks downtown -- one even hit someone in front of me -- and yet they arrest people for jaywalking and beat up critical massers for riding their bikes in the streets -- which is legal. When I asked one of the cops about this, he got all snotty and told me they were perfectly within their rights to ride on the sidewalks, even though it was putting people in danger. Bullshit.

Why would a police officer imagine it's his right to endanger people by riding his motorcycle in the streets, but it's not another person's right to hold a sign on the sidewalk or ride a bike in the street? And why would a police officer imagine that any of us would be sorry to see his job eliminated in the next round of budget cuts, after being beaten and illegally arrested by him and his friends?

Fuck this! 10.May.2003 02:14

oldblueeyes

The police are there to protect protestors from me. That's right, if the police were not there to stop me I would personally kick the shit out of people who intentionally block traffic.

Interesting/ Cut the Cops, Not Needed Services 10.May.2003 06:37

mind_prey

You really think that that is a good idea???? Have you really though that through .

I have a novel ide. Why dont you do a suport rally. I curious as to weather or not you truely suport anything.

All I ever see is protests.

"Peacefull" protesters 10.May.2003 10:04

been there done that

The protesters were reacting to police violence and a idiotic president's decision, I don't blame people for trying to take back thier country. Some times that is the only way, Marching around and chanting slogans sometimes is not enough, in the case it isn't.....and I am sad to see everyone calming down and "forgetting" what our president is doing, including lifting the 10 year old band on the development of small nuclear weapons. Saying they need to do it to deter terrorist groups and rouge nuclear powers such as North Korea. When will people wake up and see what is going on. These are the reasons America is attacking everyone else, but he wants to lift the arms ban on us????
Rise up!

you would beat the protestors for stopping traffic? 10.May.2003 17:16

zrA zra_at_mindspring.com

You damn mental invalid. Start living outside the little box that is your world and see the bigger picture of what's going on. The police don't protect the protesters from anything.

Let's see how much you like getting beaten when you disagree with something that the powers that be are stirring up.

Unscientific polls?? 10.May.2003 22:38

skate

I've a question which I'll try to state it as honestly and neutrally as I can. If I'm sloppy in my phrasing and manage to offend anyone, I'm sorry. I really don't mean to be offensive ... but I am curious.

Frequently on IndyMedia (as in this thread, for example), I see poll results mentioned by one person and then rejected by another. Along with the rejection, almost always comes the claim that the poll was "unscientific".

I've yet to see any specific reference to a particular poll along with an explanation of why that poll is unscientific. Under the circumstances, frankly, this has always comes across as, "I don't like the results, therefore I'll choose not to believe the results and justify that stance by attacking the polling methodology". Sort of a 'fox and the sour grapes' attitude.

But, I'd like to know if that's correct. If I assume there is some truth to the claim that a poll is unscientific, what is the basis for that claim? What is unscientific about it, or perhaps, how is it unscientific?

Is dismissing a poll as "unscientific" real or is it a rhetorical technique?

fine question skate 11.May.2003 00:26

pickle

About time somebody brought this up...though I'm no poll expert, the only real issue in the legitimacy/non-legitimacy of a poll is the method of collection. The occassional indymedia poster who makes an issue of how most polls are collected by telephone during the "dinnertime hours" do have a legitimate point. Certain segments of the population, paticularly the young, the single, and the nightshift crowd, are unlikely to be home at such times.

However...when the "this poll isn't valid because - " crowd gets going, using the number of people polled as the primary cause for disagreement, I can't follow. Polls do admit their margins of error, which is based on a reasonable sound mathmatical formula. Not perfect - but I've yet to see a pre-election poll that is completely at odds with the result of an election.

Getting into less black and white polls, it's tough to say what they mean. Who are you going to vote for? is a lot more straightforward than questions about the presidents job performance or should we/should we not invade iraq. Based on my talks with folks around town, I'd tend to back the polls - people support GWB.

But...but...they do it very reluctantly, and with a great number of anguished qualifiers, and that's a sentiment that doesn't show up in a poll.

Two cents, over and out.