People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Portland Police Continue to Attack Protestors;
On May 1, people in Portland marched for human rights and on June 4, people rallied against hate. At both events police responded to the demonstrators with unwarranted violence, militarism and possible civil rights violations. After the May Day event, Mayor Wheeler praised the police handling of the situation, though he raised questions after June 4.
On May Day, police came into the march itself-- a tactic that was suspended several years ago because it escalates the situation-- while also crowding the sidewalks unnecessarily. At one point, Portland Copwatch (PCW) counted at least 13 officers clustered together by the Wells Fargo tower, and elsewhere documented them shoving aside and rudely addressing protestors peacefully standing on the sidewalk.
Perhaps the most egregious police action was revoking the march permit. PCW saw soda cans flying from the crowd toward sidewalks where police were standing, as well as colorful smoke- producing devices and one shattered bottle containing paint or chocolate syrup with a lit rag. This did not qualify as a "Molotov cocktail" as described by the Portland Police Bureau (PPB). The police made no effort to de-escalate the situation or speak with the march security team or organizers. Instead, a large swarm of Rapid Response Team/riot police showed up in full gear. They ordered people to move, although people in the front of the march could not hear this. The cops told marchers to get off the street and sidewalk; where they should go was unclear. Then the police started launching flash bang devices to frighten the crowd with their loud explosive noises. The police were reckless and making things worse. One of PCW's clearly identified copwatchers wasn't able to move quickly enough for the officers' liking and was grabbed by two officers (including Officer Jason Wands #52690) and pushed bodily by a third with his baton (Officer Randy Kuykendoll #55060). *
Let's be clear; the police failed to do their job. They helped create an out-of-control situation.
The conclusion that the police escalate violence, they don't de-escalate was proven again on June 4, when thousands of people gathered to protest an alt-right rally in Terry Shrunk Plaza in downtown Portland. There was tremendous turnout from numerous immigrant rights groups, organized labor, faith based movements, anti-fascists (Antifa) and other anti-racists. The alt-right group was surrounded on three sides.
Officers violently backed the Antifa gathering out of Chapman Square one block north to Lownsdale Square, then told them that it, too, was closed. Protesters then began a spontaneous march through the streets. Police blocked in or "kettled" everyone on an entire city block where the march was moving. The police photographed and IDed over 100 people (the June 14 Willamette Week put the number at 345). Further, one of the alt-right members assisted the federal police in arresting a counter-protestor, as documented in the Portland Mercury (June 7) and elsewhere. PPB spokesperson Pete Simpson claims that though the Bureau didn't ask for help in this situation, their concern would be if people jump in to help without being asked (the Intercept, June 8). In all 14 people were arrested.
According to ACLU legal director Mat dos Santos, "For the first four hours of the demonstrations, law enforcement successfully kept groups separated in an effort to avoid conflict. Things took a dangerous turn as police deployed flashbang grenades, chemical irritants, and less- lethal bullets at the antifascist gathering-- to the cheers of the alt-right group-- after the police announced that projectiles and foul-smelling liquid were thrown from the roof of the public bathroom." Dos Santos added "Our democracy is not so fragile that a rock thrown turns off the First Amendment for everyone in our city. This kind of disproportionate response is dangerous to our democracy."
Mayor Wheeler queried Police Chief Marshman about several issues including PPB's policy on using force on peaceful protestors, police detaining and identifying people in a large group and PPB's policy about civilians assisting arrests. In his June 23 response, Marshman stood by these tactics and did not acknowledge the controversy surrounding any of them.
Regarding taking photographs of people not under arrest, Marshman's reply to Wheeler stated:
"The decision to photograph identification was made to speed up the process. Writing down
each person's information would have taken much longer. Any photographs not used in a criminal
investigation will be purged pursuant to PPB policy." We note here that ORS 181A.250
prohibits collecting or maintaining information on people's political affiliations. The
"Independent" Police Review is conducting what they call a "policy review," meaning they are
going to see whether the Bureau policies were followed and if so, whether they need to be changed,
but it's unlikely that any discipline will follow since they're not investigating individual acts of
PCW noted that the Fire Bureau's medics were embedded with police at May Day, even though they had been ordered to attend protests separately (PPR #71); the Oregonian reported on April 30 that after the medics got new uniforms, they decided to hang out with the cops again.
Police balked when organizers asked them to march in Portland's Pride Parade in polo shirts instead of uniforms because some LGBTQ folks felt intimidated. Unforutnately, the request was optional and PPB came in uniform anyway.
See PCW's illustrated letter to the Chief and City about May Day at portlandcopwatch.org/mayday2017.ht ml.
* The video of this incident has been viewed over 840 times on our Youtube page, youtube.com/peaceandjusticeworks
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.