An Open Letter To Portland Mayor Charlie Hales:
Last week you released a statement addressing the Ferguson protests in Portland. Of the several concerns you have for future demonstrations you seem fixated on demonstrators blocking streets, intersections and highways. You add that blocking highways is "foolish and dangerous." There seems to be some confusion on your end in this regard. Blocking traffic is a sign of civil disobedience. It is illegal and it can also be dangerous but the reason demonstrators are doing it, and have been since the struggle for civil rights, is because it brings attention to your everyday, perhaps apathetic, citizens. It inconveniences them and therefore gets their attention. Many people standing on a highway making it clear they will not be moved easily could be seen as dangerous because motorists could decide to run them over or hit them with their vehicles. But which is more dangerous, standing with many citizens on a highway making a statement or allowing citizens to continue to live a country where police kill without reason or impunity? Is it more dangerous to jaywalk or be charged at by bicycles, motorcycles and horses for standing on a sidewalk?
I think you're relinquishing, yet again, your responsibility for keeping your citizens safe. When thousands of Portlanders are taking to the streets and highways without laying a finger on police or personal property, the statement is clear: You will see to it that demonstrations will be violently suppressed by police outfitted in military wear and equipment. You will see to it that "those who do not disperse immediately will be subject to [internationally banned] chemical or less lethal weapons." There is a LRAD sound cannon that was used to disperse citizens off SW Morrison St. that many are claiming made crows drop dead all over downtown yet the EPA representatives claim it was poisoned corn but can't tell us where that came from.
One of the other concerns expressed in your statement is about vandalism. Where is this coming from? What property has been damaged during the Ferguson protests? The answer again seems clear: You are vilifying those engaged in civil disobedience to serve your own agenda. Your reasons for doing so are publicly evident. The citizens of Portland have known you are more concerned with rampant commercial development then protecting the people.
Here's the evidence:
-You ordered inmates and detainees at downtown's "Justice Center" to clean up the possessions of homeless people after the police forcefully evicted them off of sidewalks.
-In 2011, during the Occupy encampment, you ordered a riot squad and mounted police to charge into the park, trampling and assaulting citizens.
-You have completely abandoned the displacement of people of color and the working poor from neighborhoods they occupied for decades. In fact, you have personally condoned many of these development plans that have led families to move and even into homelessness, a city full of unoccupied and under-construction condominiums, and a parking problem that will soon rival San Francisco. All this while by your own words "it's hard to find land [for the homeless].
-In 2012, you allowed the FBI to raid three Portland citizens' homes to detain them indefinitely and collect "black clothing, anarchist literature, computers and phones." None of which, as it turns out, are illegal. This is a clear example of you supporting political repression at its worst.
-Despite alleging to be an ethical liberal you still have yet to publicly denounce NSA spying or police brutality.
The platform you were elected with claimed to support police reform and apparently there's paperwork to say that happened but what has actually changed on the street? Black youth are profiled and pulled over because the PPB alleges they could be gang members? What if they are gang members? That's not illegal either. This is a racist police policy and that is why we are protesting.
Living in the U.S. Capital for sex trafficking, wouldn't police be better served enforcing those crimes instead of you gutting funding to a shelter for victims of sex trafficking?
Charlie, the only Portlanders that support you are those that are already rich and in power. This is a classic example of class polarization, and you support it because they pressure you and sometimes pay you.
You are a thief, a coward and apparently delusional. Your resignation is welcome imminently.
-Some citizens of Portland