Press Releases

Oregon Justice Resource Center, CAIR-Oregon, and the ACLU of Oregon Call on AG Garland to Investigate Abuses by the Portland Police Bureau

PORTLAND, Ore.—Today leaders from the Oregon Justice Resource Center, CAIR-Oregon, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon released a statement on the Portland Police Bureau following the mass detention and arrest of protesters last night.

“Today, we wake up one year ago from the day when Breonna Taylor was killed by police officers while she was sleeping peacefully in her own bed in her own home. Officers still have not been held accountable for killing her. Breonna Taylor should be alive today.

“And today Portland wakes up again to an unaccountable Portland Police Bureau (PPB) who last night detained an entire city block of people for protesting on their own streets in their own city — and then, without lawful basis, required individuals to take off their COVID-19 protective face masks, be photographed, and to show identification before being permitted to leave. 

“Police killings, police assaults, and police states must end, and we must continue to declare that Black lives matter until our government actions reflect that truth.

“Under the authority of Mayor and Police Commissioner Ted Wheeler and Police Chief Chuck Lovell, what PPB did last night — kettling — is an aggressive and indiscriminate police tactic of surrounding and boxing in a group of people and blocking off all exit points. Both the Oregon Justice Resource Center and ACLU of Oregon are currently representing clients in federal lawsuits against PPB’s use of the kettling tactic against anti-Trump protesters in 2017. In neither case has the court approved of or found constitutional this abusive tactic. While the courts determined qualified immunity shielded officers from accountability for their actions in 2017, the court did not greenlight the tactic for use. 

“That PPB officers also continue to violate Oregon law and invade the constitutional right to privacy — by collecting photographs and identification of those protesting the police — underscores that PPB aims to intimidate and chill the rights of our community members and local and independent press. It is clearly understood by PPB that the elected district attorney will not prosecute individuals arrested and charged for an alleged offense that is not supported by the evidence, nor will the district attorney prosecute where PPB attempted to curtail First Amendment rights. It is also clearly understood by PPB that the personal identifiable information collected by them is often quickly made public and then is used by far-right groups and personalities to doxx, harass, and intimidate protestors. Historically, this tactic by PPB has been used exclusively against progressive and left-leaning protestors, consistent with their bias as reflected in their lax enforcement towards violent and hateful far-right groups and militias. 

“Law enforcement agencies — from police departments to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — continue to brutalize Black and Brown bodies with impunity and no accountability. So, people of all backgrounds and races continue to assemble together to demand justice. In these calls for action, it is not lost on our communities that police continue to use militarized weapons that are harming the environment and causing the physical destruction of property in Portland, oftentimes in BIPOC or lower-income communities.

“What is PPB’s response when our community demands safety and justice? They repeatedly engage in violent and unconstitutional tactics that morally compel the community to respond — through protest, mutual aid, legal action, and legislation. It is clear that our public funds and resources must be reallocated away from failed law enforcement practices and spent on the community and programs that actually keep the public safe. 

“PPB officers commit violence and break the law again and again at lawful protests because they know the mayor, the police chief, and the City of Portland will not hold them accountable, by PPB disciplinary processes or by shifting resources, even though the lack of accountability keeps the public unsafe. If Mayor Ted Wheeler, even with his direct oversight over the PPB as police commissioner, will not act, then other federal, state, local and community leaders must do so. 

“First, we request that U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland investigate the ongoing civil rights abuses that local and federal law enforcement are committing in Portland. Second, we call on all Oregon state legislators and Multnomah County elected and public officials to fully and unequivocally support the legislative reforms on policing forwarded by the BIPOC Caucus of the Oregon Legislature, which aim to provide greater oversight, transparency, and accountability of law enforcement agencies in Oregon.

“Law enforcement traumatization of our community must be stopped.”

END

CONTACT: Juan Chavez, OJRC, jchavez@ojrc.info, m – 626.253.9028
Seemab Hussaini, CAIR-Oregon, seemab.hussaini@cair.com, m -media@aclu-or.org

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