Date: Tue, 6 Nov 2018 15:06:47 -0800 (PST)
From: Peace and Justice Works < firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Portland City Council -- Commissioner Amanda Fritz
< email@example.com>, Commissioner Chloe Eudaly
< firstname.lastname@example.org>, Commissioner Dan Saltzman
< email@example.com>, Commissioner Nick Fish
< Nick@portlandoregon.gov>, Mayor Ted Wheeler
Council testimony < firstname.lastname@example.org>
cc: Portland Copwatch < email@example.com>
Subject: COMMENTS on Mayor's protest ordinance (Agenda item 1160)
Mayor Wheeler and members of City Council:
The most salient point in the ordinance is the citation of the Ninth
Circuit opinion that says "Adding large numbers of police on the street
might be the solution in some cases, but in other cases could lead to
more intense violence." Given the police response to most recent
protests in Portland, this analysis needs more attention.
We are a group that promotes and practices nonviolence. We do not agree
with the tactics of the "alt-right" Patriot Prayer and Proud Boys
protestors, some of whom came to Portland armed with rifles in August.
But we also oppose the government's assertion that it has the monopoly
on violence, by dispatching paramilitary police to attack crowds who
fail to obey their orders. Those orders are frequently hard to
understand, contradictory, or on their face apparently unlawful efforts
to end First Amendment protected activity. Portland Copwatch continues
to challenge Chief Outlaw's perception that anyone who stays around
after police give a dispersal order is "there to fight."
We agree with the ACLU that this ordinance gives too much authority to
one elected official, and that the way to deal with people who engage in
violence is to enforce the existing laws against assaults. Not that PCW
encourages the use of the criminal justice system as it is, but since it
exists, it makes no sense to criminalize protesting when the violence is
what is the problem.
The Mayor has asked why wait for people to engage in violence before
stopping it-- the reason is the same why the US should not engage in
pre-emptive wars and why the United Nations only recognizes states'
rights to act in self defense once attacked. Pre-emptive action is
first strike action.
If people are engaged in First Amendment protected speech (or free
expression, under Article 1 section 8 of the Oregon Constitution), they
should not be subjected to arrest. In all cases, it is not right for
the state to engage in violence to show people that they should not
engage in violence.
Over the years Portland Copwatch has observed many protest actions,
at which we have seen police use "less lethals," flash-bangs, pepper
spray and other chemical weapons, not to mention batons-- which were
used to push one of our members up a sidewalk when she was clearly there
as an observer. We have had to inhale indiscriminate chemical spray,
avoid being stomped by police horses and jump out of the way of police
motorcycles on sidewalks.
Peace and Justice Works organizes many protest actions about US domestic
and foreign policy, sometimes seeking a permit and sometimes not. What
this ordinance sets up is the ability of a pro-war group which disagrees
with our point of view to on social media that they plan to
counter-demonstrate, thus triggering the imposition of these rules
and making us subject to be arrested and put in jail for 6 months
and/or asked to pay a $500 fine.
This is a very disturbing proposal and it does not fix the problem you
intend to solve.
At the root of the problem is the unparalleled spending this country
makes on its military, leaving little for health care, jobs, the
environment and other human needs. The City could solve the homelessness
issue, the street brawls, and the alleged need for more police all at
once by asking its citizens to send 60% of their federal tax money to
local causes instead of diverting it to weapons of war.
The impulse to "do something" without a deep look at how it will affect
democracy is the hallmark of a certain other elected leader who now sits
in the White House. Portland can do better than this, and we must.
--dan handelman and other members of
Peace and Justice Works/ Portland Copwatch
PO Box 42456
Portland, OR 97242