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An Open Letter To Mayor Charlie Hales

An Open Letter To Portland Mayor Charlie Hales:

Charlie,

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." [...]

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: [...]
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