After Potter spoke, one of the facillitators introduced Deputy City Attorney David Woboril. Woboril described the city attorney's role by saying it "provides objective information to policy makers." Woboril was a large part of the meeting and commanded a 45 minute slot on the agenda to explain the PFZ/DFZ as it is now, a bit about its history, and what it would be if the communities and policy makers were pleased with Mayor Potters draft and the DFZ in general. |
Woboril started by addressing some of the history of the DFZ, that it started and was an idea during Bud Clark time as Mayor in 1992. The original motivations for the DFZ was to curb open air drug dealing because community members saw it degrading their neighborhoods. A second reason was that the justice system was too lenient to drug offenders, in the presentation it was noted that sometimes offenders were arrested twice in one day for drug related offenses becuase they moved so quickly through the system. Woboril also noted that 14,223 city-wide residents petitioned for the DFZ in 1992. The Beech DFZ was added in 1997. And the kicker, the event that is necessary to trigger a DFZ exclusion: probable cause.
What followed was a series of graphs, the city had brought three projectors and had three screens going at once to share all of its data. It added up to being confusing and tough to follow for some parts. In one of the first graph sets, the arrests in the DFZ's (central city/old town and beech st area) were tracked for the thriteen year history. It showed drug arrests in the Beech area going down steadily from implementation to 2005. Then it graphed areas without DFZ and showed that drug arrests in those areas remained steady and more or less unfluctuating. During the Q&A a person asked if part of that reason could be the demagraphic of the Beech area changing, as more money is pumped into "revitalize" urban areas and less advantaged people are forced out of areas due to property values not drug free zones.
After more graphs and layers of statistics that I didnt know how to note, Woboril got to the proposed changes. In the changes, both the central city and beech zones would be decreased as the city felt the DFZ had been effective on the outskirts of the zones to the point where they were no longer necessary. For the PFZ, which starts at W Burnisde and goes to Sandy all the way up Sandy to 82nd and then all the way down 82nd (and Woboril noted no real change in prostitution in the prostitution free zone), the stretch of Sandy Blvd would be cut out. In the city's proposal is also a new DFZ, which would extend nearly the entire length of 82nd, from Killingsworth to Crystal Springs Blvd. (Woboril noted the complexity of 82nd, becuase the north part had crack cocaine, the middle part was ectasy (amid laughter) and the southern part was crystal meth.)
Eventually, Woboril had to present race pased graphs and statistics. He went quickly through these and I didnt adequately notate all the information. However, I did note that in the Beech DFZ, 83% (123) exclusions were issued to African Americans. 12% (18) exclusions were issued to Caucasians. In Old Town DFZ, 585 exclusions were issued to African Americans and 686 to Caucasians. I didnt have time to write the stats for that.
Then some harder details of the exclusion process. From what I understood, the stats are: 90% of the people stopped for drug related probable cause are excluded. One percent of that 90% appeal their exclusion. Out of that 1%, 74% of the people that appeal remain excluded. I could be wrong on that last part, during the Q&A one the the public defenders asked Woboril why the DFZ was necessary when the DA loses most of the DFZ related cases.
Woboril was starting to end his presentation, and did so by trying to sum up others opinions. He said the city attorneys position was that the current code (the proposal i beleive) would be constitutional. For the DA's position, he said the DA beleives the DFZ is helpful but will not stand behind it if the communites do not support it. He also stated that Portland Business Alliance had drafted a proposal for the DFZ but did not elaborate on it.
After Woboril, Police Chief Derrick Foxworth stood to say a few words. He was quoted as saying "over the years, exclusion process has been a very effective tool for us." Then the ACLU representative got up to say a few words. She was also brief. The main conern was that the DFZ was an attack on personal freedom to travel and move around public spaces. That without judicial process, a lone police officer could issue exclusions without any oversight. And that an exclusion isnt a criminal offense, but violating the exclusion is criminal trespass.
After she spoke, the Q&A session was due to begin. Before that, however, Amalia did a rough poll to see what the room was into. The room was not full but I would guess about 100 people showed up. She asked how many people came to find out a bout the DFZ, a few hands went up (1/8); she asked how many people came to support it with the amendments, again 1/8; she asked how many were there to support it , about 1/4; and then she asked how many people were there to oppose the DFZ, about half the room raised their hands now. The Q&A sessions was long and there were many good questions. I wasnt able to write many down or the answers. However I did pick up a few things.
One person, an African-American and resident within the Beech zone, had been excluded before. He raised his hand to speak out agianst the DFZ. He said that he had been harassed by the police beyond belief, that he had been arrested 122 times for violating the exclusion. He said that many of the arrests happened within blocks of his home, and that one even happened on the front steps of his own home. Criminal tresspassing on his own stoop. He said that he didnt understand how a DFZ was effective when police stopped people at will for probable cause yet the neighborhood stores still sold blunt rolling papers?
A few people noted that the DFZ's only condemend victims. That the majority of people excluded were not drug dealers but people that were either drug users or people that had paraphenlia on their person at the time. I worte donw the quote of that lady when she said that the DFZ is codemening victims becasue it is so true. This process serves not to help the people that need help, but to move problems from one place to another. Exclusion doesnt promote change, yet makes it harder for a person to see another way out.
The last question was from a young latina woman, Cassandra, she said "i dont want to live in a community where judicial process has become a priviledge." And with the DFZ, judical process is a priviledge and people of color are on the worng end of it.
If you have any complaints a bout the drug free zone, suggestions, or just want to share your opinion on them, we were told to email: email@example.com
Someone from the city was taking decent notes of the Q&A and said that we should visit this page to find details fo the Mayors plan and perhaps also those notes? http://www.portlandonline.com/mayor/
Also, there is this past information from portland indymedia: Community discussion about future of the Drug Free Zones | Perspective on Portland streets | A Community in Flux | and the Boise Neighborhood will vote at its november meeting about the DFZ. if you are a resident of the neighborhood, please attend.