Oregon governor urges citizens to call police on neighbors who violate lockdown orders

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OREGON – Oregon Governor Kate Brown mentioned during a recent interview with a local news outlet that she believes people should call the police on their neighbors if they witness them violating pandemic restrictions. 

Namely, being days away from the Thanksgiving holiday, this includes people hosting more than six people in their own homes. 

Governor Brown likened people calling the police on their neighbors for pandemic restriction  violations on exceeding home-occupancy mandates as something akin to calling the authorities on a late-night house party that gets too loud: 

“This is no different than what happens if there’s a party down the street and it’s keeping everyone awake. What do neighbors do? They call law enforcement because it’s too noisy. This is just like that. It’s like a violation of a noise ordinance.”

What’s been coined as the “freeze” in response to the pandemic can actually levy far worse repercussions on violators than a run-of-the-mill “violation of a noise ordinance” in Oregon. 

 For instance, in Portland, general noise code violations can be assessed a fine of up to $5,000. However, according to residential instances, a first offense is usually only a $150. 

Whereas with violations of the “freeze” order – such as home gatherings exceeding six occupants – people can be fined up to $1,250 and be placed in jail for up to 30 days. 

In a statement recently released by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, even they noted that enforcing these types of mandates is both impractical and “counterproductive”: 

“We recognize that we cannot arrest or enforce our way out of the pandemic, and we believe both are counterproductive to public health goals.”

Clackamas County Chair-elect Tootie Smith was also critical of the “freeze” order, likening the mandates to reducing residents in Oregon to that of “second-rate slaves” trapped inside of their homes. 

In response to the criticism from locals and elected officials within Oregon, Governor Brown referred to them as being “irresponsible” and likening the vocally opposed to clout chasers: 

“Look, all of this is irresponsible. These are politicians seeking headlines, not public servants, trying to save lives. My top priority as governor is to keep Oregonians healthy and safe. That’s where I’m focused.”

These recently implemented restrictions will run statewide in Oregon for two weeks; whereas in Multnomah County, residents will be tasked with abiding by them for a four-week period. 

Outside of the in-home occupancy being restricted to no-more than six people, residents in Oregon are also barred from dining out and going to the gym. 

Poising her stance on the mandates in a manner of ‘it’s for your own good’ fashion, Governor Brown says possible ramifications for violating the “freeze” order is all about “saving lives”: 

“This is about saving lives and it’s about protecting our fellow Oregonians. We have too many sporadic cases in Oregon. We can’t trace these cases to a particular source. We have to limit gatherings and social interactions.”

On November 19th, Oregon was said to have reached a record-setting number of newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a single day, citing 1,306 new cases and four deaths

The increase in cases continued to trend upward in the state, with reported new and presumptive cases on November 21st coming to 1,509 and seven reported deaths. 

Details on the seven most recently reported deaths from COVID in Oregon show that each person who passed were aged between 75 and 86 years old and six had “underlying conditions”. 

For the sake of perspective on those age ranges of the recently deceased, the average life expectancy in the United States is 78.93 years. 

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In other news stemming from Oregon, legislation recently moved forward that would decriminalize the possession of drugs. 

But this isn’t like measures that have moved forward in numerous states in 2020 with regard to marijuana – this measure aimed to decriminalize hard drugs such as methamphetamine and heroin. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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PORTLAND, OR – Carrying small amounts of hard drugs will soon be punishable by what compares to a traffic ticket in the state of Oregon. 

Voters decided Tuesday night to pass legislature decriminalizing drug possession and expanding treatment options for drug abusers and addicts. 

Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that more than 58% of voters approved the ballot measure. 

The law change will go into effect on February 1, and is the first of its kind in the United States. 

One of the petitioners who filed the measure, Haven Wheelock, told the news outlet: 

“It takes a lot of courage to try something new, and I’m really proud of our state. I’m excited to be a model for other places to show that we don’t have to harm people for being sick.” 

Under the adjusted law, possession of small amounts of drugs including heroin, methamphetamines and cocaine will now classify as a civil violation and could come with a $100 fine. 

OPB reports that the if an offender agrees to undergo a health assessment, they may be able to skip the fine. 

The unanswered question is if and how the legislation would apply to minors caught possessing drugs. 

Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton said: 

“The biggest question is what to do for teenagers who are using these highly addictive street drugs who choose not to engage in treatment?” 

Local defense attorney James O’Rourke agreed, saying it is a “bad idea” to decriminalize for children: 

“I think it sends a really bad message to them, and influences their perception of the risks, at a time when it’s the most dangerous drugs have ever been.” 

Currently, OPB reports that 26 of 36 counties in Oregon already have drug court programs. 

Opponents of the ballot measure argue that offenders convicted of possession already have access to jail alternatives. They also argue that the state has already been offering jail alternatives to most offenders who are convicted of drug possession. 

The Oregon District Attorney’s Association wrote a statement about the law change, saying: 

“Sadly, many people only confront their substance use disorder because of a contact with law enforcement which often ends in diversion and treatment. This measure will tie the hands of law enforcement and prosecutors everywhere and lead to disastrous results for our communities.” 

The statement goes on to say:

“Decriminalization will lead to an increase in acceptability of dangerous drugs, normalizing hazardous experimentation for our youth and increasing accessibility, surging supply and lowering costs of dangerous street drugs.”

The newly passed legislation could reportedly also allow more money for needle exchanges, harm reduction efforts and additional addiction treatment. 

In a statement released Wednesday, New York’s Drug Policy Alliance Director Kassandra Frederique said that she hopes other states will mimic Oregon. 

“This win represents a substantial shift in public perception and support in favor of treating drug use as a matter of public health, best met with access to treatment and other health services, rather than criminalization.” 

She goes on to say: 

“Measure 110 is arguably the biggest blow to the war on drugs to date.” 

Despite being based on the opposite coast, The Drug Policy Alliance spent about $3.5 million to gather signatures to get the measure on the ballot. 

On top of that, Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife contributed another $500,000. 

The ballot measure said that one in eleven Oregonians is currently addicted to drugs. 

The Oregon Criminal Justice Commission reports that the state already has some of the highest substance abuse rates in the country, before Tuesday night’s vote to decriminalize. 

According to the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, the state already had some of the highest substance abuse rates in the country prior to Measure 110 passing. 

The commission anticipated drug possession convictions to drop by 90% when the law change goes into effect. 

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