The report was released at a Press Conference, moderated by Alejandro Queral, Director of the Northwest Constitutional Rights Center. Alejandro spoke briefly about why these recommendations are necessary. "The report presents recommendations on what the Police Department needs to do to improve it's crowd control tactics. Over the years we have seen time and again the Portland Police Bureau using excessive force against protesters, ranging from just a show of force all the ay to using impact munitions, such as bean bags and rubber bullets. There have been a number of incidents over the years involving pepper spray...we have also seen the use of mounted patrol as crowd control tactics which have resulted in injuries, panic by the crowd and adverse reactions by the crowd."
"So what we are presenting here are a series of policies that are calling for, first a ban on pepper spray as a means of crowd control, particularly at first amendment assemblies. We're also calling for a ban of less than lethal munitions and the use of horses to control crowds."
After a few more brief comments, Alejandro introduced Ashlee Albies, Chair of the Portland chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, who first gave an a little history of the National Lawyers Guild. Ashlee then addressed the importance of First Amendment rights, "essential components of a Democracy. The right to express ones views in a public arena, and where that expression is one of disagreement with current policies, it deserves even more protection because we need to create a society where people feel comfortable expressing their disagreement with the government."
She finished by stating that the two Civil Rights groups are "committed to stemming the abuses described in this report, and we strongly urge the PPD to adopt these modifications and to affirm the rights of Free Speech and Free Assembly."
Next, two citizens who have experienced first hand the abuses of police power described in the report spoke a little of their experiences, both at the October 5, 2006 World Can't Wait Protest and March through downtown Portland. Steve Geiger and Stacy Mullins both relayed their experiences at the march, and their outrage at police tactics against peaceful protesters.
A video was also played, demonstrating the police abuses this report intends to remedy. Shauna Curphy, staff attorney for the North West Constitutional Rights Center, narrated the video, pointing out and discussing various instances of police abuses and over reaction.
This video and narration is not included in the audio report, though the video itself is available on YouTube at:
Whose Streets, Video
The audio file is about 12 minutes in length.
Whose Streets, RealPlayer
Whose Streets, MP3