portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reporting portland metro

human & civil rights | police / legal

Police Already Targeting For Arrestees in SE Portland: a personal experience

A few weeks ago the author was challenged by a phalanx of Portland cops, and the main thing they wanted to know, after a pointed enquiry about someone they were allegedly looking for, was whether I had any arrests or not. I wonder, had I ever been arrested before, what would they have then done?
I think I read here only a few weeks ago (just after my experience with local cops) that on the NW and SW side of Portland there was a project (?) of some sort begun by cops to identify and manage people whom have not been actually convicted of any crime, but have been merely "arrested". I want to expose that this method is already happening in the SE as well.

Basically, this is what happened. I was parked overnight (in an RV) while visiting friends in the area (near Hawthorne and 35th), and was sleeping rather lightly. Then I heard someone come by with a dog. The dog sniffed a little around the immediate outside of where I was sleeping, and barked. Next thing, I heard a woman talking a bit outside and then she knocked. Responding, they asked me to come out of my RV.

Question: Do I have to? What if I asked for a warrant first? What if I chose to say "I'm remaining silent"? What are others' experiences (care to share?)?

Well, I exited, and immediately they had me put my hands on my head while they quickly searched my body, ostensibly for weapons. Then they proceeded to ask me questions. I answered, as it looked to me as tho they were in "hot pursuit". Now I wonder if I should talk at all.

They wanted to search my RV for what they claimed was "an article of clothing" that their dog had apparently sniffed (?) after, I learned, "a substantial fire" had been made in the area. I later heard from one of my friends that there have been arsons in the area of late (a few weeks ago). Well, I said "no".

The woman cop audibly gasped, and this energy moved me to give a little. I said:
"You can't 'search' but you can look. And only one person at a time."

Here I was, half surrounded by a phalanx of cops, one with the dog off in the short distance. But I have had multiple experiences with cops wanting to search over the years, so I guess I "held my ground" pretty well. Not that I'm "proud"; not at all. I just didn't want to have them/anyone going through my stuff in the middle of the night when I needed sleep. And besides it was still quite chilly at night and I was standing there without anything really warm.

A copwatch spokesperson later said that he'd never heard of this kind of thing, where one gives cops the right to "look" but not "search".

Well, the first time they "looked" (I have no electricity, so she had to use a flashlight) they seemed satisfied. And they seemingly let me go after checking my I.D. I don't recall whether they asked me if I had *ever* been arrested the first time around or the second.

Anyway, I had gone back to bed for about 20 minutes when they came back and knocked again. This time, a fire department official of some sort wanted to ask me some questions, notepad in hand, while the lady cop who had looked before, wanted to look again.

So this fire official (with patches on arms) seemed to be asking me questions to measure something. Either to try to find out whether I was concerned about things they believed I might be hiding, or to find out whether I was sober, or something perhaps along those lines.

Maybe the lady cop actually searched portions of my RV, I don't know. But soon after I got tired of answering seemingly unrelated questions from the fire official, I challenged him about that, and the questioning stopped, and the "looking" cop came out, and they let me go.

They didn't tell me to move on, though. They didn't say anything about the local law against "camping". I parked in the same area for about another week and had no further incident.

Now I have to wonder whether the dog was being used to "sniff people" inside vehicles? Why else would the dog bark? I certainly was not involved in the stupidity of arson. Hell, when they asked about the topic I informed them that my approach is "crucial arts" not "martial arts".

But of course, they are like soldiers deployed out into the field, aren't they? Talking to them as fellow human beings, some in positions like the ACLU say, is not going to help. Such groups say "don't talk to the police. Don't talk to them in your home, on the street, or in your car."

And while I've adhered to that idea in the past (once when I was called to come down to the police HQ for questions) and not done so, face to face on the street with a phalanx of them surrounding me, well, it's not so easy. You know?

Soon after this experience I left a message with, then later spoke with a representative of the local Copwatch group here in Portland. The man I spoke with could not give me any advice about how I might respond in the future to this seemingly heightened method by the local police, and my experience has been that even the ACLU's "bustcard" is far from adequate.

"Adequate" would include suggestions on whether to invoke "the right to remain silent" early on, and such things. And to share cases of people whom have used their rights, and what they experienced. I figure there's a "fine line" between what the ACLU and similar organizations can say, because, I figure, the police HAVE TO HAVE some sort of hegemony (?) over we sheeple. Right?

Also, there ought to be trainings. Copwatch trains to watch cops, but how about trainings to deal with increasingly pointed cop techniques?? Anti-WTO activists have done this sort of thing, along with others when organized for demos, but what of just having some kind of training for the general populace (not everyone feels that they can best give via organization!)?

Any input or info about where I might obtain further suggestions and input would be very much appreciated.

homepage: homepage: http://visionary4humanity.wordpress.com