* * B R E A K I N G N E W S * * B R E A K I N G N E W S * *
Portland Community Policing Group Targeted by PPD for Copwatching
For Immediate Release
Portland, OR - IN ANOTHER CLASH with the Portland Police Department [PPD], Portland Community Liberation Front [PCLF] successfully provided legal, non-violent observance of over five traffic stops on or near the intersection of MLK and Killingsworth Thursday, November 11 between 10pm and 1am. PPD's extreme response resulted in over $1,100.00 in minor traffic citations. This is not the first time the PPD has attempted to stifle the activities of PCLF and other community patrolling/Copwatching organizations. The events of the evening are indicative of PPD resistance to community involvement in police accountability.
On Thursday nights, PCLF (a police accountability organization by and for people of color that formed in response to the killings of James and Perez last year) holds its routine community patrol in North and Northeast PDX. They observe and document the activities of police officers during interactions with community members. The goal of community patrolling is to inform community members of their rights - which eventually may prevent another tragedy of police violence. When asked by police about their presence PCLF responds consistently in accordance with their rights, "We are here to observe, we do not intend to interfere."
During these patrols, PCLF has been subject to harassment, disrespectful actions and a lack of professionalism from the PPD. This includes PPD shining spotlights directly in the eyes of community patrollers for upwards of 20 minutes, stalking the cars of PCLF for more than 8 blocks at a time, and verbal abuse of the community observers during traffic stops. The harassment does not end when PCLF explains that they are participating in the constitutional right to observe law enforcement officers in the line of duty.
On Thursday night, this harassment was taken to a new level of intimidation. Over three hours, two African American leaders of the organization were cited with $1147 worth of bogus misdemeanor tickets. These citations were given for charges such as "failure to use a crosswalk" or using a turn signal "not soon enough." In addition, a PCLF car was pulled over under the pretext that the license plate light did not work; upon inspection of the working lights, the officer conceded that it was an excuse to detain PCLF members.
These incidents are proof that this police accountability work is essential. PCLF will continue non-violent community patrolling. PCLF feels that the PPD in its current state is not accountable to the communities in which it operates. PCFL does not intend to work with the PPD. They feel that the police have been given ample time and opportunity to change their behavior or seek community assistance. PCLF does not wish to waive its right to community patrolling under the name of coalition building. PCLF recognizes that there are other community groups building relationships with the PPD. PCLF respects those organizations.