People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
MAY DAY 2014:
Once again, Portland Copwatch was invited to observe police conduct at the annual May Day workers' and immigrants' rights march. While we noticed a continuation of last year's welcome policy of not targeting portions of the crowd based on how they look, we had some concerns. We continued to see forensic teams recording portions of this First Amendment event without suspicion of criminal activity, in apparent violation of ORS 181.575-- we recorded at least three such teams this year. Also, Sergeant Barnum rode his motorcycle up on the sidewalk among pedestrians, which seems unsafe (and which we've seen him do in previous years). We documented another Sergeant (Abrahamson), who should be inspecting his own officers and setting an example, without a name tag on as required by Directive 312.50; at least one line officer also had no name tag.
In a related issue, several officers, including Officer Andrew, had cell phones and/or pens sticking out of their pockets and obscuring their name tags. We took images showing Officer Andrew with his tag covered, removing his phone once we asked about it, and his name tag uncovered.
We also saw officers on duty who've had multiple complaints against them, including the infamous Sgt. Kyle Nice (most recently pepper spraying teens in PPR #58) and Officer Christopher Gjovik. Finding officers without known histories of questionable conduct might improve community police relations.
We continue to be disturbed by the presence of police horses, Rapid Response ("Riot") Teams and multiple police vehicles at peaceful events, permitted or not. Though the Bureau has been better about keeping horses and the RRT away from the march, seeing the horses block off the bus mall on Burnside and join the end of the march, and the RRT blocking off the Morrison Bridge, seems more like intimidation than community policing.
After sending these concerns to Assistant Chief Mike Crebs, who was just a Sergeant at the infamously out-of-control police crackdown on May Day 2000 (PPR #21) and has lived to learn from it, we recieved an uncharacteristically (for Crebs) defensive response. He claimed the video recording is to "protect everyone and make us accountable for our actions"; suggested that Sgt. Barnum may have had a "very legitimate purpose" for riding on the sidewalk and said the horses / RRT are not for intimidation but rather "to make it a peaceful event while being respectful of everyone's rights - people marching, motorists, business owners and those not involved in the march." He did say he would look into the name tag issue. We will keep you posted.
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.