(PORTLAND, OREGON, 8/4/2018) – The Oregon chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Oregon) and the Portland chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (Portland DSA) today called on government officials to investigate and enact reforms in the wake of the Portland Police Bureau’s violent actions that targeted Portland residents peacefully counter-protesting against racist far-right groups, including white supremacists, white nationalists, and neo-Nazi gangs that gathered to rally at Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
Portland police made arrests of the counter-protesters and opened fire on the large crowd gathering using tear gas, pepper spray, and stun grenades. The counter-protesters were made up of a coalition of labor unions, immigrant rights advocates, democratic socialists and other justice advocacy groups.
In a statement, CAIR-Oregon Spokesperson Zakir Khan said:
“Today Portland Police initiated violence causing injuries against peaceful civilians and a coalition of community groups organizing the counter-demonstration, as well as journalists who were covering Saturday’s events. Throughout the rally, Portland Police primarily focused upon protecting the alt-right groups’ hate bias-motivated behavior, including escorting its members throughout the area and allowing an unpermitted parade to commence through the streets of downtown Portland after the rally. When alt-right groups repeatedly disobeyed Portland Police commands, there were zero consequences. All people deserve EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER LAW. This discriminatory behavior causes us a great deal of concern and the Oregon Department of Justice must investigate the tactics that took place at these events.
“Second, we call for state legislators to draft a bill to provide funding for a Civil Rights Division within the Oregon Department of Justice. That bill should empower the Civil Rights Division to investigate police departments for improper uses of force and should assist in the creation of consent decrees. At present, the Oregon Department of Justice currently has no civil rights staff.
“Third, we believe the events of today’s rally and previous hate-fueled riots highlight how community policing is dead in Portland. In the span of over a year, we have realized the following:
- We cannot trust the police to properly investigate nor protect against hate crimes.
- We cannot trust the police to use tact towards both citizens and journalists.
We cannot trust the police to communicate effectively.
“For over a year, we have notified the Mayor’s office of the above three issues and there still remain problems today. In a progressive city like Portland, we deserve better.”
Olivia Katbi Smith, co-chair of the Portland chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, adds: “Mayor Wheeler tells us again and again that the police are there to keep us safe, and again and again they have actively put us in danger and escalated the situation while protecting white supremacist fascist demonstrators. The police have made it very clear where their allegiances lie. We cannot continue to allow our brothers and sisters to be targeted and intimidated while the police either stand by and do nothing or actively enable fascist organizing in our city.”
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
DSA is the largest socialist organization in the United States. DSA rejects all forms of exploitation and oppression and organizes with the ultimate goal of ending capitalism in favor of a society run for the people, not for profit.
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