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Community discussion about future of the Drug Free Zones

Tuesady November 1st from 6.30 to 8 pm-Emmanuel Temple (1032 North Sumner)-I look forward to seeing and hearing all the community opposition to this classist/racist Drug Free Zone law.So all you radical fairies,revolutionaries,anti-racists,cop watchers,class-warriors,vegans, & community agitators of North & Northeast Portland...See Ya there...
The meeting is set for Tuesday November 1st from
6:30 to 8:00 pm at the Emmanuel Temple (1032 N. Sumner).

The Drug Free Zone issue is still before the City Council. At a recent
meeting, the city council decided to extend the Drug Free Zone law for only
90 days rather than three years. During those 90 days the council hopes to
consider the issue further and formulate a final new version of the
ordinance. The mayor has made some suggested changes to the law and wants
them to be fully considered before going to a final vote. To help get
community input the Mayor has organized some community meetings.

The first community meeting is next Tuesday. Part of the meeting will
consist of a panel discussion with a representative of the District
Attorney's Office, the Public Defender, the Police Bureau and the ACLU. I
urge you and all interested citizens to attend this meeting and make your
voice heard on this issue. The meeting is set for Tuesday November 1st from
6:30 to 8:00 pm at the Emmanuel Temple (1032 N. Sumner).

Please contact me if I can provide any further information about this
important issue. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Christopher J. O'Connor, Attorney at Law
Metropolitan Public Defender
630 S.W. Fifth Ave, Suite 500
Portland, OR 97204

Phone: 503.225.9100
Fax: 503.295.0316
TTY: 503.944.2281
Email:  coconnor@mpdlaw.com
Boise neighborhood letter concerning Drug Free Zone 28.Oct.2005 07:49


October 14, 2005

To the Portland Mayor and City Commissioners,

The past two months Boise has been discussing the role the Drug Free Zone (DFZ) should play in our neighborhood. During our September meeting following a presentation from Jim Hayden and Officer Brett Smith our meeting voted strongly to support the renewal of the DFZ as it currently stands. However, following a presentation Chris O'connor at our October meeting, concerns were raised in the manner in which the DFZ is implemented.

To wit, the October group strongly voted to have the following considered in the DFZ implementation and support for the DFZ:

• Be sure that the DFZ maintains constitutional status and proper due judicial process for citations.

• That exclusions be conviction based.

• That DFZ be evaluated more frequently than every three, perhaps annually.

• That proper and in-depth research with regard to impact, constitutionality, and cost be afforded in evaluating the DFZ. The Mayor and City Council should consider asking the Criminal Justice Policy Research Institute at Portland State University to research the Drug Free Zones.

• That during the renewal periods, proper time is allowed to provide for in-depth and even-handed discussion and evaluation.

Thank you for taking seriously the implementation and effect the Drug Free Zones have.


Dan Bower, Chair of the Safety Committee

don't oppose it 28.Oct.2005 16:16


Where can you direct us to any examples showing and proving the drug free zone has been unfairly used to deprive someone of their rights? I just haven't heard anyone except drug dealers complain about any problems from the cops because of this dfz.

seek justice, oppose the DFZ 29.Oct.2005 12:26


If you seek justice, please stand and voice oppostion to this unconstitutional Drug Free Zone (DFZ). At last months Boise neighbourhood association meeting, the attendees voted overwhelmiongly to oppose the DFZ. This is a community that is 100% inside a DFZ, and also an historically minorty and low income community. It is a truly radical stance to say NO! to this practice and at least defend justice. (Just as a side note, the Boise neighbourhood is where Kendra James was murdered a few years ago by racist police).

Currently a police officer has the power to stop a person for suspicion, and if any drug paraphenilia is found, that officer alone has the power to ban a person from the area for 90 days. There is no review or fighting it, even if you live within the area, you are restricted for 90 days (if you live in the area you are permitted to go to and from your house, but not anywhere else, unless with a written court order). This is supremely racist and classist, as many of us know the tools of law are hardest to obtain for those that need it most. So effectively the people that are punished under the DFZ are guilty no matter what. It is a bad cycle.

As community members, and justice seekers we have a chance to strike down this "law". We can stand in opposition to it. At the upcoming community meeting Tuesday November 1st from 6:30 to 8:00 pm at the Emmanuel Temple (1032 N. Sumner). Please, wherever you live, come to this meeting and voice your opposition the the DFZ!

heres some more 30.Oct.2005 08:07


hey peacecat. it sucks that you are seeing the class issues here, and the class issues around dealing drugs. it is a cycle that is inherently linked to being denied and shut down, having others options closed off. this "law" does exactly that.

so, below i am going to post a series of comments that are articles about the DFZ from other publications. i hope you read them and get a clearer understanding.

street roots 30.Oct.2005 08:09


Zoned Out: Portland's drug-free zones face a rewrite following judge's decision

by Joanne Zuhl, Contributing writer

Portland's drug-free zone exclusion law survived judicial scrutiny this past month, but emerged with concerns surrounding its enforcement.

The 12-year-old law is aimed at curbing open-air drug trafficking in the downtown area. It prohibits people suspected or convicted of using or dealing drugs from being in designated "drug-free" zones of the city. These zones comprise most of the city's downtown area, including Old Town. Critics have said the law allows police to target low-income or homeless individuals for removal from the downtown commercial district. The dispute went before Circuit Court Judge Michael H. Marcus on April 8.

"What we have is a situation where the ordinance is still technically valid, but there are now so many holes in it that the city will have to make some major repairs to the ordinance," said Chris O'Connor, an attorney with the Metropolitan Public Defenders who challenged the law's validity on behalf of hundreds of clients.

In his decision, Marcus said the law is constitutionally valid, but only in a narrow interpretation. One of the rubs for Marcus came down to the exemptions allowed, or often disallowed, for people to travel through drug-free zones to reach such necessities as housing or public services.

"The ruling is a carefully crafted piece of work on Judge Marcus' part," O'Connor said. "He has said that the law, on its face, is constitutional, but only if read in a certain manner. Marcus said that all the variances that, under the law and previous court opinions, must be given are required and an officer cannot deny them."

For example, O'Connor said that if an officer scratched out the part of the variance that says the person has permission to go to his or her residence if it is in the zone, then that exclusion is not valid. The variances must be given.

Deputy City Attorney David Woboril, who attended the April 8 court hearing on behalf of the city, said it is now up to the City Council to decide how to follow Judge Marcus' decision based on the recommendations from the city attorney's office.

"The judge did not find the current code unconstitutional, although he sees room for improvement and it's clear he wanted to communicate to council some of his feelings about the drug-free zones and prostitution-free zones. And we will put together some recommendations for council that will implement his suggestions for improvement."

Woboril said he expected the city will adopt at least some of the judge's recommendations.

Marcus' ruling comes in the case of the City of Portland vs Eric Glen Burrage; however, Burrage was only one of many defendants the Metropolitan Public Defender's office was representing on these charges. O'Connor said he hopes the ruling will begin a process of scrutiny by city officials, and ultimately dismantling of the law, which he argued in court is actually a vagrancy law forbidden by state statute. The law, he said, let's police officers move homeless people out of the downtown area.

"I think few people would argue that open-air drug markets are a good thing for the citizens, businesses and general civic environment of Portland. However, there are state laws against dealing, possessing, attempting to possess and manufacturing drugs," O'Connor said. "The city police should enforce those laws instead of making up new laws creating a special legal class of 'drug people.' The true purpose of the drug-free zone is to allow the police to harass and move along "undesirables" when the police don't have reason to accuse them of new crimes."

This was a position echoed by Judge Marcus in a footnote to his decision. Efforts to banish "undesirables" have persisted for hundreds of years, he notes. And despite the city's and the state's insistence that the exclusion law targets only drug activity, "no one could plausibly posit equivalent expenditures of resources by law enforcement and the courts, or such valiant efforts of the city to reach the furthest limits of constitutional law, were the targets dressed and otherwise presented as prosperous professionals discreetly buying and selling powder cocaine."

The law further crosses the line when the exclusion is applied at the time of arrest, O'Connor said. "It makes ordinary citizens, who have yet to be proven guilty of any crime, get police permission to go to work, church or simply stand on a street corner," O'Connor said. "The concept that a non-convicted person is essentially banished from parts of the city is totalitarian."

Created in 1992, the city's drug-free zone ordinance began as a 90-day exclusion from high-drug areas for any person arrested for dealing drugs. Less than two years later, it was amended to exclude any person arrested for either dealing or possessing illegal drugs. More additions and regulations were added in the years that followed, and by 2002 its constitutionality was being called into question. Defendants claimed the law essentially banished them from significant portions of the city even when they weren't doing anything illegal.

In 2002, Judge Richard C. Baldwin found the city's drug-free zone ordinance to be unconstitutional. According to information provided by the Metropolitan Public Defender, Judge Baldwin found that it limited freedom of movement in areas of the city where the individual had not been arrested, that it reached an individual's innocent activity as well as the individual's illegal activity in the zones, and that individuals excluded from the drug-free zones were subject to arrest for criminal trespass when engaged in lawful activities. These flaws, "substantially limit freedom of movement and lawful activity in a manner which is not necessary to meet the City's compelling interests," Baldwin wrote in his decision.

A year later, Judge Marcus found the drug-free zone ordinance unconstitutional because that version of the ordinance failed to afford excluded people due process of law regarding the standard of proof used by hearings officers in the appeal of the original exclusion. Judge Marcus specifically declined to consider at that time "whether further process is due" and did not determine any of the issues shielded from analysis due to the "facial" nature of the challenge, according to O'Connor.

In 1996, the city of Cincinnati, Ohio, enacted a city ordinance based on the Portland drug-free zone ordinance. A challenge to that city ordinance in federal court resulted in the law being invalidated. The federal district judge determined in that case that the city ordinance was not tailored narrowly enough to meet a compelling state interest. Preventing drug abusers from repeating offenses in struggling neighborhoods is a compelling state interest, the court ruled. However "a narrowly tailored ordinance would not authorize exclusion without, at a minimum, a finding that the particular person to be excluded was likely to repeat his crime in (the zone)."

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district ruling on the grounds that the Constitution protects a right to travel locally through public spaces and roadways. "The right to travel locally through public spaces and roadways enjoys a unique and protected place in our national heritage," the ruling stated.

In Portland, officers are allowed to make variances to exclusion violations for such traveling in the zone to and from a home if it was located in a zone. However, until now, people living on the streets were an exception. Judge Marcus grants them residency status for shelters and other temporary homes.

"The transient status issue is quite interesting," O'Connor said. "The system in place until today was that everyone got automatic permission to go to and from their home if their home was in the zone. However, homeless shelters, camps, or simply sleeping on the street or a park did not count as a residence. So if a transient individual was excluded and was stopped while walking to a shelter in the zone, they would be in violation of the DFZ because it wasn't a 'real residence.' If the same person were walking to their condo in the Pearl District, they would not be in violation because they were walking to their 'residence.'"

Marcus' ruling changed all that, saying that the city must recognize that people forced into shelters or hotels downtown are in fact "residing" at those locations.

"How this will play out on the street is another question," O'Connor said. "The open question is going to be what happens when an excluded person says, 'I live in this park' or 'I am going to sleep in this doorway' when confronted by an officer about their exclusion status."

The challengers also argued that the vast territory of the drug-free zones is unconstitutional, and that it excludes people from entering the most densely populated area in the state of Oregon and the cultural and economic center of the state. A person who is excluded based on an arrest near the river in Old Town would be forbidden from traveling as far away as Portland State University or the shopping district on Northwest 23rd, according to O'Connor. The drug-free zones also include the primary transfer terminals for Tri-Met, including the routes to the Greyhound bus terminal and Union Station.

It also faced challenges of racial disparity in its application. According to O'Connor, who cited information from the district attorney's office, about 70 percent of the defendants for drug-free zone violations in 2004 were African-American, although they comprise a significantly lower percentage of the population in the zones.

"The city's location of the zone and the enforcement of the zone is based on race," O'Connor said. "It's almost as if an officer could see that certain people didn't belong in certain parts of the city. It is my opinion that this is a race-based system."

Judge Marcus, however, ruled that there were no baseline statistics to establish if the law was in fact racially applied.

Woboril said that it's difficult to determine racial disparity in policing.

"As a lawyer analyzing these claims in a lawsuit, it is very important to do the statistical analysis correctly," Woboril said. "This is a very, very difficult analytical issue, and at any time, a city is trying to determine whether a city is engaging in racially biased policing. And cities all over the county are trying to make the numbers meaningful, and they're failing. The critical number is the rate at which people of a particular group make themselves vulnerable to enforcement because of their behavior. Until you know that number you really don't know (whether racial disparity is occuring)."

Woboril said he expects the city will act on any possible changes to the law in the coming weeks.

"I hope that the city government will read Judge Marcus' opinion and recognize that the law is flawed and is being misapplied by the officers on the street," O'Connor said. "It's ironic that the city will spend weeks arguing with the federal government over use of the Patriot Act and renewing the Joint Terrorism Task Force, then turn around and enforce a totalitarian law that forces unconvicted people to carry papers and get police permission to even go to a city council meeting. The city will now have to fix the ordinance, and we should all fight any renewal of the DFZ ordinance. This crosses the political spectrum: Libertarians can hate the Big Brother aspect of the law. Conservatives can decry the waste of financial resources. Liberals can be concerned about the racial and class bias inherent in the enforcement of the law."

willamette week 30.Oct.2005 08:14


i found this one from 98 about how the new drug free zone in north and ne portland is part of the reason property values are going up. urban renewal, gentrification, displacement. inherently this is tied to class issues.


Zoning In
In the next few months, the City Council will consider whether to label a large chunk of residential North and Northeast Portland a drug-free zone.

Such zones aren't new--Portland already has four. What makes this zone different from the rest is its sweeping scope.

While the four existing zones each have a narrow geographic focus, the proposed zone includes parts of 13 neighborhoods, their characteristics ranging from open-air crack markets to manicured lawns. The proposed zone encompasses four square miles, nearly four times the next-largest zone, which includes Old Town and the downtown bus mall.

A drug-free zone is a tool to target repeat drug offenders. When a person is arrested on drug charges in one of the zones, he is not only punished for the crime, but he is also excluded from the area for a year. If he's caught in the zone during the exclusion period, he's subject to search and arrest on criminal trespass charges. Without the zones, police have to wait until they have evidence of a crime before they can make an arrest.

In the past, drug-free zones have been criticized by a vocal minority. There was some dissension in the Eliot Neighborhood Association, where the board chairperson cast a tie-breaking vote of support for the proposed zone. In general, though, the new zone has been winning the support of neighborhood groups.

Deputy District Attorney Jim Hayden, who is in charge of the project, says the new zone is needed. "You have people that have been selling drugs in Northeast Portland from the same spots for years," he says.

He believes that other zones have been effective. The one in Washington Park was so successful in combating marijuana dealing that the zone was later eliminated. In the Beech Street zone and the Alberta zone, drug arrests have declined. "The area is on the rise," he says. "Property values are going up. There are more businesses, more housing. Crime rates are going down. Is the drug-free zone responsible? Does it contribute? I think so."

The zones certainly ensnare large numbers of offenders: 3,259 people were under current exclusion orders for the existing four zones as of Sept. 1.

There are those, however, who worry about giving the police additional powers of arrest. "Certainly it would need to work very well to balance out the general loss of constitutional rights or freedoms," says Jon Kart, an Eliot board member who voted against the proposal. "It's easy to give them away and impossible to get them back. I think what needs to be done is [something] more labor-intensive, like neighborhood block watches."

The issue will be discussed at the Chief's Forum, a twice-monthly public meeting, next Monday morning before moving toward City Council consideration.

--Maureen O'Hagan

portland mercury 30.Oct.2005 08:16


Why Not Banish Drug-Free Zones?
City Council Faces Another Civil Liberty Test


A year ago, one of the hottest debates in recent city council history began. The mayor and city commissioners were asked to cancel their agreement with federal agents and withdraw local police officers from the Joint Terrorism Task Force. At that time, civil rights advocates were concerned that not even the mayor had sufficient access to the files that police and FBI agents were keeping on local citizens.

When the FBI refused to relinquish and allow the mayor adequate security clearances, city council voted 4-1 to withdraw. It was the first city in the nation to do so, casting an important post-9/11 vote. In an era that has sacrificed individual liberties and basic due process protections for the sake of law and order, the vote to remove Portland from the Task Force was an important signal that there were limits to police actions.

But now, city hall is facing another critical and soul-searching test: Should they reauthorize the city's notorious Drug-Free Zones (DFZ)? And while they may have previously gone to bat for civil liberties, this time it is wholly uncertain whether the mayor and city commissioners will place basic constitutional protections in front of questionable police tactics.

Under the DFZ rules, police officers can banish a suspected drug user or pusher (or prostitute) for 90 days from large areas of Old Town and North Portland. Officers do not even need any hard evidence, just the belief that the person is engaging in some sort of illicit behavior.

Unlike the Task Force vote, during which dozens of concerned residents were lobbying council members, very little attention has been devoted the DFZ's upcoming reauthorization vote. Even Council Member Erik Sten's office told the Mercury they were unaware that the vote was quickly approaching.

"It wasn't on the radar," admitted Bob Durston, Sten's chief of staff.

Opponents to the DFZ believe this widespread apathy is because enforcement happens far from the lives of "engaged citizens"—mainly impacting the city's homeless.

Civil rights attorneys and public defenders have repeatedly squawked that these rules blatantly violate basic constitutional protections and are used unfairly to chase away "undesirables"—like panhandlers, street kids, and African Americans.

"Innocent people are being swept up in this," explained Andrea Meyer with the ACLU. Meyer said she is most concerned about the DFZ because there are no safeguards on how the police will decide whom to kick out of the neighborhoods.

"We have consistently asked for a report on 'who, what, and how' the DFZ is really applied," said Meyer. But, she lamented, "it is done in a shroud of secrecy."

While Portland may have been a national leader when it stepped away from the Task Force, city hall also continues to be a national leader when it comes to the DFZ: Portland is the only big city that continues to allow such drug-free zones. Even Cincinnati, a conservative stronghold, did away with the zones a few years ago when their courts declared they violate basic constitutional protections.

However, two years ago, when Portland faced similar challenges, city council sidestepped those concerns. In November 2003, a court judge struck down the DFZ, saying they unfairly made the officers judge and jury. In response, then-Mayor Vera Katz convened city council and tweaked the DFZ rules to read that a police officer would need a "preponderance of evidence"—as opposed to "mere suspicion"—before kicking a person out of the DFZ. That alteration was enough for the DFZ to squeeze past constitutional concerns and be reinstated.

Since then, the DFZ have continued to flirt with unconstitutional behavior. This April, the public defender again leveled a lawsuit against the DFZ, saying that police were using it to harass African American men in Old Town. At trial, an attorney for the public defender's office stated that the number of African American men excluded from DFZ was twice the neighborhood's population of black men. Ultimately, the judge, although expressing sympathy, said such evidence was inconclusive.

Just like the vote earlier this year over the Terrorism Task Force, which was an opportunity to re-examine police tactics—the upcoming DFZ vote is an important opportunity for the city to move away from some of its more unsavory methods.

portland mercury 30.Oct.2005 08:16



With time running out on the city's notorious Drug Free Zones (DFZ), the city attorney is scrambling to keep them alive. Over the past few years, the DFZ have been in and out of court for constitutional challenges. Under the rules, police officers can banish a suspected drug user or pusher for 90 days from large areas of Old Town and North Portland. Officers do not even need any hard evidence, just the belief that the person is engaging in illicit behavior.

Civil rights attorneys have repeatedly squawked that these rules are used unfairly to chase away "undesirables"—like panhandlers, street kids, and African Americans. Originally, the city council was scheduled to vote whether or not to reauthorize the DFZ on Wednesday, October 19. (The rules are set to expire soon.) But then the matter was yanked from the council's agenda and rescheduled as a curious item labeled, "Extend expiration of DFZ until February 2, 2006."

The city attorney did not wish to offer any comment about the change. But the mayor's office explained that Tom Potter would like an opportunity for community input before voting on whether to continue the DFZ.

"He would like to up the bar," explained the mayor's spokesperson John Doussard, referring to the necessary evidence that police need to exclude a person from the DFZ. While that change would allow DFZ to remain in operation, it would also increase the probability that innocent people will no longer be swept up in the DFZ exclusion rules. Stay tuned for information about upcoming community meetings. PB

portland mercury 30.Oct.2005 08:17


The Un-Constitution
Attorneys Push Back Against Bad Laws

Once again, the city's Drug Free Zones and sit/lie rules are under scrutiny. For the past few years, the downtown blocks surrounding Pioneer Square have been an embattled turf; home to some of the most contested legal battles over constitutional freedoms. The so-called DFZ allows police to boot suspected drug dealers and users from the downtown area. Likewise, the sit/lie rules permit police to hustle along any person loitering on downtown streets. Civil rights attorneys have repeatedly complained that those rules are being used unfairly to chase away "undesirables"--like panhandlers and street kids.

Recently however, attorneys have been pushing back on these rules--getting both declared, at least temporarily, unconstitutional. A year ago, for example, the DFZ were struck down as unfair because they handed too much power to police officers--essentially skipping past due process requirements and transforming police into both judge and jury. But two days later, city council tweaked the rules to sidestep those legal concerns. Currently Judge Michael Marcus is drafting another legal opinion about whether the DFZ are being disproportionately applied to African American men. That case was heard a week ago.

Likewise, last July, circuit court judge Marilyn Litzenberger issued a lengthy legal opinion about why the sit/lie rules handed too much power over to the police--and, hence, were unconstitutional. Again, city council responded by re-drafting the rules in December to sidestep those pesky constitutional issues.

But now, starting this week, the slightly revised sit/lie rules are again enforceable. And again, it is likely that the issues about who the police can kick out of downtown will land in front of city council. Currently, council member Erik Sten is pushing for the city to coordinate an "aggressive effort" to deal with panhandlers. Contact Sten with comments and suggestions at 823-3589.

portland mercury 30.Oct.2005 08:19


Back in the Zone
Public Defenders Accuse Cops of Racial Profiling

For years, Drug Free Zones in Portland have proven to be a slippery debate. Under the decade-old rules, police officers can banish a suspected drug user or pusher for 90 days from large areas of Old Town and North Portland--even if there's no conviction; the officer needs only to believe that the person is engaged in some sort of drug activity.

But as long as these rules have existed, public defenders have also been trying to beat them back, saying they violate basic constitutional protections--namely, the right to a judge and jury.

In November 2003, Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Michael Marcus agreed that the rules ran afoul of basic constitutional protections. At the time, he wrote a refreshingly humane opinion that "mere suspicion" of drug activity was not proof enough to punish someone. He went on to say the laws were especially onerous to the "poor, homeless [and] mentally ill" and likened them to Elizabethan Poor Laws which tried to exile beggars from London.

But 48 hours later, then-Mayor Vera Katz convened city council and tweaked the DFZ rules to read that a police officer would need a "preponderance of evidence"--as opposed to "mere suspicion"--before kicking a person out of the DFZ. It was a hairline change--and one left largely to the discretion of the police officer. Even so, that alteration was enough for the DFZ to squeeze past constitutional concerns and be reinstated.

Since then, cops have been back to business as usual, booting dozens of people at a time from the city's DFZ--but defense attorneys have not given up, and have been looking for new angles to attack the re-worded DFZ. On Friday, that debate once again landed in Judge Marcus' courtroom.

As before, the legal debate struggled over whether DFZ were constitutionally fair. But this time around, the public defender presented a particularly pointed attack: That the DFZ unfairly and disproportionately affects African American men in town. The thrust of the public defender's argument was that African American men account for the vast majority of DFZ exclusions.

For the first three hours of debate, attorneys squabbled over whether the success of the DFZ should validate dubious constitutional practices. At times, that argument veered from a theoretical discussion into the gritty reality of street law. The city attorney tried to argue that without DFZ allowances officers are impotent to fight open-air drug markets.

"We're not in that position where the city can depend on the criminal justice system to pick up the slack," explained the city attorney. Pleading that the police need more tools to fight the city's drug trade, the attorney went on to explain that officers need a quick and ready way to chase away suspected users and pushers.

Judge Marcus conceded that such approaches to crime fighting have shown results, and that he has "immense respect" for "evidence-based problem solving." But, he added, "I question the constitutionality."

After all, the same justification could be used for, say, roughing up a suspect when he's not forthcoming with a confession. The result may be desired, but in criminal law--especially when considering the constitutional fairness of police methods--the ends do not necessarily justify the means.

Ultimately, Judge Marcus cut off the discussion about approaches to fighting the drug trade: "We're having a discussion that's for city council," he explained, clearly trying to veer away from anything that could be labeled as judicial activism.

The remainder of the courtroom debate focused on what the public defender called an unfair impact of the DFZ on African American men. With a young black man sitting next to him, dressed in a prison jumpsuit, the public defender Chris O'Connor tried to show that the number of exclusions issued to African American men was nearly double that of the population of black men in those neighborhoods. If true, Judge Marcus could decide again that the DFZ violate constitutional protections--and that police are unfairly profiling African Americans as suspected drug dealers and users. In an explanation that made the city attorney squirm, public defender O'Connor intoned that the disproportionate prosecution of African American men was both race- and class-based discrimination. He pointed out that policing street-level drug dealing in Old Town focused on black men while white Pearl District residents freely snort cocaine in their lofts.

A decision from Judge Marcus is expected before April 19, when several other DFZ challenges are scheduled for trial.

portland mercury 30.Oct.2005 08:23


and what about this one? is this an example of how class issues play into this? its a good thing city official get breaks, how come ordinary folks dont? and this kind of goes to show that governments and "drug fighters" arent against drugs, they are against a certain class of people that unfortunatery are often times forced into dealing drugs just to get by.


Was He Doing Field Research?
Crime Prevention Official Busted for Buying Crack!

It's a story that is both funny and sad at the same time. Brent Canode, deputy director for the Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI) and in charge of programs designed to help neighborhoods battle drug dealing, was busted two weeks ago for allegedly buying crack cocaine on the street in Old Town. What's even more ironic is that because the bust occurred in one of the city's Drug Free Zones (DFZ), Canode would ordinarily not be allowed to travel through the Central Precinct--a downtown turf that includes his office in City Hall. However, Canode has been given an exception to travel into the DFZ during work hours. Though the DFZ have been challenged by civil rights attorneys, ONI has vigorously defended both their constitutionality and their value in fighting crime.

Canode has been an up-and-coming persona at city hall, who for the past few years has been groomed and mentored by city council firebrand Randy Leonard. A former policy advisor for Leonard, in April, the 31-year-old Canode was placed in his current position at ONI. At the time of his hiring, he was the subject of mild controversy and grumbling because Leonard, who serves as the bureau director for ONI, placed Canode in the job without conducting an extensive search for other candidates.

The bust occurred on Friday, September 17 in the heart of Old Town, near NW 4th and Couch. At about 10 pm, Canode apparently bought the drugs right out in the open as nearby officers watched the transaction.

After making the alleged purchases, Canode hopped into a taxi cab. When the cab stopped two blocks later, officers stopped him and reportedly found a small amount of crack. He was ticketed for second-degree attempted possession of a controlled substance and released that evening. The man who allegedly sold the drugs to Canode was also arrested.

The arrest has also reignited the debate over the city's notorious DFZ. Under the rule, an officer can boot a person from these zones for 90 days based on the mere suspicion that he or she is using or selling drugs. A year ago, Multnomah County Court Judge Michael Marcus declared the DFZ were unconstitutional because they violate the basic principles of criminal process--that is, the conviction of a person without the benefit of judge or jury. But two days after DFZ were determined by Judge Marcus to be unconstitutional, city council (including Leonard) voted to tweak the rules around DFZ in an attempt to sidestep the constitutional concerns. Under the new rules, the level of suspicion needed by an arresting officer was raised to a "preponderance of evidence" as opposed to "mere suspicion" of drug activity. Those new rules have yet to be challenged.

Council member Leonard, who has known the accused for the past five years, is the most visible city official connected to Canode.

"I felt like I had been hit in the stomach when I heard," Leonard said.

He also noted that while certain members of his own family have battled drug addictions in the past, Leonard did not recognize any similar indications with Canode. He spoke highly of Canode, saying he is "a very talented man." But, Leonard was also clearly disappointed, saying that "it would be unfair to have the rules (of the DFZ) applied any differently (for Canode)."

Canode's incident adds to a growing list of shame and irony at city hall. Earlier this year, Elise Marshall, the assistant director for the city's Office of Emergency Management--a position calling for a cool head under pressure--was accused of verbally assaulting a cyclist downtown, and a few weeks later, physically abusing her boyfriend.

And two weeks ago, it was discovered that city officials at the Water Bureau placed a winning bid on eBay for the city's own reservoir caps. In that incident, the Water Bureau had tried to unload floating plastic covers that had originally been commissioned for Mt Tabor reservoirs at a price of $400,000. Under a code name, the city officials placed a winning bid of $18,100--or about five percent of the original price. It is still under investigation whether the officials were making bids during work hours--which would be a violation of their contracts.

One thing Missing in this discussion is the right to remain silent 31.Oct.2005 12:23

know your rights while you still have them

There is a very informative post-9-11 webpage up which comes from the National Lawyers Guild (courtesy www.thirdworldtraveler.com).

Persons targeted by this law or by police *can* say "I have the right to remain silent" when asked to involve themselves in conversation by police, or any other agent of the state (i.e. social workers).

Read the linked page and INFORM yourself!


A side-note: those interested in controling public thought in democratic societies *always* utilize a deceptive pattern of hype and "good intentions" in order to plant repressive laws which later *systematically* broaden out to include the unsuspecting. Any time a group of people whom are viewed as "bad" for "society" are spotlighted for attack by laws and such things, we see the encroachment of the same old domestic war machine (if you look just beneath the surface).

Potter comes up with new changes to DFZs 03.Nov.2005 11:54


I was at the DFZ meeting this past tuesday. The city attorney put on a long confusing presentation on how DFZ worked, works, and will work if passed with the new changes. Seems like they have addressed much of what the ACLU was unhappy with in the currently questionable ordinance. Basically, with the new rules:
1) you have to be charged with a crime to be excluded
2) if you are proven innocent you are no longer excluded
3) the exceptions to the exclusion (school, work, healthcare, church, social service, etc) are now
the defualt, instead of an excluded person having to file for a varience.
4) extend the time you have to appeal your exclusion.

I'm sure there are other changes, but those are the ones I noticed that went towards aiming the exclusions at those deserving to be excluded.