Portland city council on “police reform”: Tear gas is a “chemical weapon” and cops need to wear “soft clothes”

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PORTLAND, OR – Earlier in September, the Portland City Council voted to accept a police reform report that equated the use of tear gas by police during unruly protests and riots as employing the use of “chemical weapons”.

The same report also called for police officers to wear “soft clothes” during protests instead of being fitted with protective gear – claiming the optics conveys “a preparedness for violence”.

On September 22nd, the Portland City Council accepted a report crafted by the Citizen Review Committee’s Crowd Control and Use of Force work group, which within the report called for Portland Police to ban the use of tear gas and other “chemical weapons” often employed to address unruly crowds during riots and protests:

“Make permanent the existing ban on the use of CS gas by PPB, and extend it to other chemical weapons used for crowd management.”

Within the report’s “De-Escalation Recommendations” section, it was suggested that Portland Police officers no longer wear protective/riot gear when responding to protests:

“Adopt ‘soft clothes’ for protest response. Opt for ordinary patrol uniforms or clothing that does not suggest the expectation of violence or combat when attending or responding to events where violence has not occurred.”

According to the Citizen Review Committee’s Crowd Control and Use of Force work group’s report, not having Portland Police officer adorning protective gear is one of the handful of suggestions that the group believes “will lead to less violence than we saw in 2020” during both protests and riots.

Commissioner Mingus Mapps found this notion confusing, according to a report from news outlet KOIN 6, asking if the group responsible for the report took the time to review data on how many Portland Police officers were injured during protests and riots:

“I am curious if you looked at the number of police officers who were injured during these protests. I don’t have that data in front of me for city police, but the feds claim 144 federal officers who were in riot gear were injured. So one of the things I’m trying to figure out is what situations do we have them in protective clothing?”

The group claimed that it was a nuanced subject, but understands the needs for officers to be protected when responding to such demonstrations – yet the recommendation for “soft clothes” for police during protests is still in black-and-white in the report.

Another aspect mentioned within the report was the allegation of an existing “bias in favor of right-wing groups” when Portland Police are responding to protests. The report mentioned the following on that matter:

“Some community members asserted that Portland Police gives favorable treatment to right-wing groups. Individuals cited incidents where they observed Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer demonstrators having friendly, peaceful interactions with Portland Police.

Specifically, individuals discussed PPB’s willingness to allow Proud Boys to march uninterrupted, or a lack of action by police when racial justice protesters were attacked by right-wing counter-protesters.”

Coming from a purely logical perspective – police officers are going to be more likely to be amicable toward an individual or group of individuals that aren’t acting hostile toward them during a demonstration.

It’s perhaps far less likely to be a “bias in favor of right-wing groups” and may have more to do with Portland Police officers at these protests not having these groups scream at them and launch attacks against them.

However, the report also noted that some community members proclaimed that Portland Police afforded BLM and Antifa protesters “too much leeway”, saying that police were “allowing property damage and violence to occur for political reasons.”

While the Portland City Council voted to accept the report, they claimed that their vote to accept it does not mean that all suggestions outlined within the report will manifest into changes within the Portland Police.

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Court says Portland Police broke law by livestreaming protests, showing violent attacks on cops and city

(Originally published September 21st, 2021)

PORTLAND, OR – According to reports, a Multnomah County Circuit Court found that Portland Police had violated state law by livestreaming protests that were taking place in the city.

This decision was reached in relation to a lawsuit brought forth by the ACLU and one protester during this past summer alleging that the PPB’s activities infringed upon a unique law regarding what information law enforcement agencies can document.

Back in July, the ACLU and Marie Tyvoll, who in court documents was listed as “Protester 1”, claimed that when Portland Police were engaged in the likes of livestreaming protests taking place in the city, they were in violation ORS 181A.250 – a law quite specific on what information law enforcement cannot collect.

The law I question reads as follows:

“No law enforcement agency, as defined in ORS 181A.010 (Definitions for ORS 181A.010 to 181A.350), may collect or maintain information about the political, religious or social views, associations or activities of any individual, group, association, organization, corporation, business or partnership unless such information directly relates to an investigation of criminal activities, and there are reasonable grounds to suspect the subject of the information is or may be involved in criminal conduct.”

Again, this lawsuit pertained to Portland Police reportedly livestreaming protests – which could certainly fall into the realm of both “political” and “social views”.

And apparently, Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Ryan felt that was the case.

The ACLU released a statement on September 20th regarding their success in court:

“We are pleased that Judge Ryan was willing to apply Oregon law in a commonsense way to protect our right to protest without fear of government surveillance or government-supported doxing.

This should put all Oregon law enforcement agencies on notice that police have no business filming, photographing, or otherwise collecting information on protesters. Protest is fundamental to democracy. Protest is not a crime. Period.”

Tyvoll, who has a history of filing lawsuits in Portland (one against Portland Public Schools in 2018 and another in 2020 against a neighborhood coalition, for recent examples), described the impetus of the suit, claiming that police were “doxxing” her while livestreaming protests:

“When I showed up to support Black Lives at a protest, I did not expect that the police would invest so much time, money, and energy in broadcasting my face over the internet.

Standing up to injustice is important to me; having my own government deliberately put me at risk for broadcasting my location and political stance — known as ‘doxxing’ — is unbelievable. In a time when extremists and hate groups violently attack activists, I am grateful that the Court saw how harmful this practice is and chose to put a permanent stop to it.”

While Portland Police apparently violated Oregon law with said practices during protests, according to Judge Ryan, Tyvoll’s concerns over police “doxxing” her and “broadcasting her political stance” seems awfully disingenuous.

For one, Tyvoll has been the subject of numerous news reports in Portland since 2018 when she filed a lawsuit against her former employer (Portland Public Schools) for wrongful termination.

And when she was awarded over $400K in 2020 for that suit, she was again in the news for that – only to be in the news that same year for the lawsuit against the neighborhood coalition.

But neither of those lawsuits really placed her political leanings to the forefront – but when she spoke with The Oregonian back in July of 2020 for a video interview: she literally made her political stance known when she protested against police.

The Oregonian clearly obtained her name, and published it in the released video, writing “Marie Tyvoll joined the front lines of the Portland protests on Monday night in a plea to end the violence.”

Not to mention, on Tyvoll’s own Twitter account, her account bio (which is public for all to see) reads as follows:

“Medical Tent at PDX protests. Strive to be antiracist. Parent. Accountability. Activist. Advocate. Connect protesters to legal support.”

It’s safe to say that Tyvoll’s political leanings were by no means secret or suddenly revealed by Portland Police – as she broadcasted those aspects about herself and is obviously not camera shy to voice her leanings and share her name with the press while actively being at a protest in Portland.

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After defunding the police by $15 million, Portland’s mayor wants money to rehire retired police officers

(Originally published September 18th, 2021)

PORTLAND, OR – According to reports, with murders having hit their highest level in more than 20 years, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is pushing for extra funding in an effort to rehire police officers who’ve recently retired to solve an ongoing staffing deficiency.

Homicides have reached a troubling high over the past year, and Mayor Wheeler is looking to get his hands on funding to tap into experienced officers who had retired to both address a staffing shortage within the police department and also tackle the concerning violent crime rates.

Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell, as well as Mayor Wheeler, estimate that as many as 80 retired officers could be reintroduced to the Portland Police Bureau by the end of 2021.

The Portland mayor said that reintroducing the officers to the department will assist with violent crime levels “as well as prevent burnout amongst our current officers.”

Currently there is a deficiency of 122 sworn law enforcement officers for the Portland Police Bureau, as they’re operating with 794 sworn officers currently with a force authorized to operate with 916 officers.

So far this year, there have been 64 homicides in the city – with 46 of those homicides involving gunfire. In the previous 12 months, police reported 1,229 shootings, a considerable increase from the 656 shooting incidents reported the year before.

Mayor Wheeler lamented the surge in violent crime impacting Portland:

“The city is on a trend to have its deadliest year in decades. And while urban gun violence is impacting cities throughout the United States, we are not other cities. This is our home and we need to do better here.”

While Mayor Wheeler hopes to attain the funding for the rehiring of retirees effort, he also said that there needs to be a longer term strategy to address the staffing shortage within the bureau:

“I believe our police bureau is under-resourced. I want an evidenced-based approach to how many officers we need to hire and what gaps we have in the bureau that currently need to be filled.”

The hiring of retired officers for the Portland Police Bureau is not exactly uncharted territory, as the same effort was put into place in 2020.

However, the program was discontinued in August of last year due to its high cost – namely because the rehired officers were being paid at the same level as they were when they retired. That pay was also in concurrence with those officers’ receiving their city retirement benefits.

Mayor Wheeler also proposed an expansion of the Portland Street Response team, which assists individuals dealing with homelessness and behavioral health issues so as to alleviate Portland Police from having to respond to those calls.

Another aspect on the agenda for requested funding is the issuance of bodycams for police officers.

This fall, the City Council will discuss budget adjustment proposals, however, the mayor has not yet said how much money he’ll seek to increase the Portland Police Bureau’s budget.

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