PORTLAND, Ore. – Police officers were compelled to use pepper spray as demonstrators at City Hall in Portland, who were trying to stop the City Council from voting on a new police contract, turned violent and started throwing objects at them Wednesday, FoxNews reported.
Due to the incident, ten people were arrested and Mayor Charlie Hales was forced to delay the meeting. It resumed a short time later at a third-floor room, while protesters were kept below. A 3-1 vote in favor of the new contract occurred.
Hales’ unprecedented maneuvering within City Hall to conduct the vote in a meeting room angered protesters. They were furious that Hales was bringing the matter to a vote at this time, instead of allowing his successor, Mayor-Elect Ted Wheeler, to take up the matter in January so there would be more time for public input. But Hales made the contract a top priority before he leaves office Jan. 1.
“This is a good day,” Hales said of the contract’s approval. “It will pay dividends, for a bureau that has a good relationship with the city, over time.”
“They wouldn’t have gotten this passed if they did it in a democratic way,” said Gregory McKelvey, spokesman for protest group Don’t Shoot Portland.
The vote outcome triggered another round of protests that momentarily blocked transportation. Protesters dispersed only as darkness fell, but more demonstrations are expected Friday.
The new police contract includes more pay for police officers. Chief Mike Marshman said it is urgently needed to help the city recruit new people. It can help entice new recruits and prevent current officers from leaving, Marshman said.
The Portland Police Bureau will have nearly 90 vacancies by the end of the month due to retirements. The table of organization calls for 880 members, so the projected vacancies will be significant. In the next five years, another 385 officers are projected to retire.
Questions were raised about the future use of body cameras, but Marshman said any policies developed around body cameras will include public input. Concerns over rules for body-worn cameras will be publicly vetted next year under the new mayor, Ted Wheeler.