HTML> Post Election Resistance and Arrests <i>(Long Version)

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Post Election Resistance and Arrests (Long Version)

Since Donald Trump was elected, Portland has been awash with street protests. The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) has taken an offensive stance towards many of these actions. We spoke with ACLU Oregon Legal Director Mat Dos Santos (MDS) about the arrests, police tactics and his organization's response.

CW: Captain Larry Graham was quoted in a recent Mercury article (November 8) stating "Nationally they're looking at us and they've asked us to do national training for national law enforcement" How does ACLU regard the Portland Police Bureau's crowd control tactics?

MDS: We have criticized PPB for the way that they engaged with protestors. They often used confusing crowd control measures, gave confusing directions, and seemed quick to deploy chemical munitions as well as so-called "less ... lethal munitions" like rubber bullets, which can actually be quite dangerous, and they are quick to show up with riot clad officers when there's really no reason to be in riot gear. We've repeatedly told them that there's plenty of social science evidence that shows that the use of riot cops in situations that don't require them... actually just escalates situations and is likely to lead to more conflict with protestors than it is to diffuse the situation, but PPB has this old school mentality ... [a] show of force, which they believe will pacify people through fear. But that's not how the human psyche works, and there are plenty of studies that show it's wrong. There are lots of other police departments across the nation that have really radically altered their approach to crowd control, either through litigation, where they were forced to by the courts, or because they have embraced this notion that their old tactics weren't working.

CW: ACLU has filed a class action suit on the part of protestors who were 'kettled' (boxed in by police on all four sides) on June 4th (PPR #72). Over 200 people were held and only released after their ID's were photographed, though charges were made against fewer than 10 of them. What citizen's rights were abrogated in this action?

MDS: Front and center in our litigation is the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unlawful arrest. In order for you to be detained or arrested, a police officer needs to have either reasonable suspicion of a specific crime or probable cause to go get a warrant for your arrest . In a kettle where you ... have people who were clearly engaged in nothing other than protected First Amendment activities, there's no way that PPB had even reasonable suspicion that all 250 people were engaged in criminal activity. So they could not [legally] detain those people for an extended period. We also think it implicates First Amendment rights because when police act to suppress protest through use of force, people are less likely to protest... There's also the question of what they did with all the information they gathered when they took photographs and names and other identifying information because there are federal guidelines that require you not keep information unless it's reasonably related to a crime. There's also [a] state law that prohibits collection of information based on association or political beliefs. [ORS 181A.250]

CW: Do you think a court finding could influence police use of such tactics in the future?

MDS: We've seen it time and time again where court findings actually have an influence on policy. Clearly a victory in this case could change the use of kettling by PPB. We want to see them stop using mass detention as a means to engage with protestors.

CW: Of 200 plus arrestees in the last year, only 12 have been convicted, 43 made plea deals, others await trial, but the majority of cases were dismissed (Oregonian November 5). Does this seem appropriate?

MDS: When the Oregonian reported on all these arrests, the DA was quick to flip the narrative and say 'Look, we made all these arrests but we never brought charges because we're only focusing on the most egregious crimes" Well, those arrests should never have been made in the first place. It's still a problem of the police quickly engaging in protests, in a way that leads to arrests of numbers of people with insufficient evidence to support charges. If the DA could have brought charges against the rest of the 200 people that they would have, because that's just in the nature of being a prosecutor. I think that the alternative story is they brought charges against 12 cases, and the other 180 weren't supported by evidence-- that is very chilling to First Amendment rights.

CW: Will ACLU pursuing individual police brutality suits really change PPB's tactics?

MDS: We are trying to think through ways to hold PPB accountable for the ways they harm people engaged in First Amendment activities. Many times federal civil rights litigation failed because of laws that protect police; case law that protects police even when they engage in egregiously bad behavior. So we are approaching this with a new legal strategy that we hope will allow us to hold individual officers accountable, and send a clear message that if they don't train their officers properly then they may be individually liable for the harm that they cause.

  People's Police Report

January, 2018
Also in PPR #73

PPB Shoots 3rd Young Black Man in 2017
  25 Oregon Deadly Force Incidents About Average
PPB Drops "Gang List", Releases Data
Sheriff Clears Self of Immigration Wrongdoing
DOJ Analyses: Lack of De-Escalation
Training Council: Force Data Missing
Oversight Body Challenges 2 Findings
Police Review Board Minimizes Force
Mayor Pushes Houseless from Downtown
Chief Outlaw Talks Frankly, Takes Heat
Campaign: Pull PPB from Terror Task Force
Protests: Resistance and Arrests
Crowd Policy Authorizes Violence
Quick Flashes PPR 73
  • Multnomah DA Phasing Out Grand Juries
  • Body Cams Don't Affect Cops' Behavior
  • Another Pervo-Cop
Rapping Back #73

Portland Copwatch
PO Box 42456
Portland, OR 97242
(503) 236-3065/ Incident Report Line (503) 321-5120

Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.

People's Police Report #73 Table of Contents
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