George Floyd Protests Response
We must demand concrete steps to reform the Portland Police Bureau immediately to save lives, reduce spending, and set our city on the path to healing.
Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020
After several days in the streets listening to the demands of protesting Portlanders and discussions with a range of community leaders and national experts, Sarah is calling for immediate reform to Portland Police. Polished statements and empty gestures are insufficient responses. Protesters have made it abundantly clear that only real, immediate solutions can begin to quell the unrest in our streets.
Public safety is an issue on the minds of all Portlanders. Sarah does not claim to speak on behalf of the protesters but is answering their demand for visible leadership that they can trust. Thousands of Portlanders are upset with the incumbent’s broken promises and failed reforms and feel disheartened by this nation's continued biased policing, disproportionate use of force, and routine killings of people of color.
The Portland Mayor, also the Police Commissioner, must take concrete, urgent action to reform the Portland Police Bureau: this will save lives, reduce spending, and set our city on the path to healing. There is no justification to not make these reforms today. The following recommendations rely heavily upon conversations with local activists and work done by The Use of Force Project. To that end, Iannarone recommends immediate implementation of the following:
- Ban chokeholds, carotid restrictions, and the knee-to-neck maneuver which killed George Floyd. Currently, the Portland Police Bureau’s Use of Force Policy does not prohibit or even mention chokeholds, which block oxygen flow to the brain. It categorizes strangleholds as ‘deadly force’ while permitting their use.
- Ban the use of chemical weapons at demonstrations. The Geneva Convention bans the use of chemical weapons. These weapons attack the respiratory system at a time in which we are dealing with a global pandemic of respiratory disease, COVID-19. Inflicting indiscriminate physical pain on demonstrators is unjust, inhumane, and escalates the situation. Our city is not a war zone.
- Defund militarization of Portland police. The response to outrage over police brutality should not be to amplify the deadly militarization of our police department; instead, we should re-allocate these funds to programs prioritized and led by community groups, specifically those led by communities of color. This should be a priority as the budgetary decisions are being made.
- Require de-escalation. Currently, unlike many other cities, there is no requirement for Portland Police Bureau officers to exhaust all non-violent means before escalating to using deadly force.
As with police bureaus across the country, the culture of Portland Police Bureau needs to be changed. Any officer who engages, or witnesses and does not report fellow officers engaging, in the above activities or other threats to community safety should be held accountable. These policy changes should be implemented immediately, coupled with accelerating the Portland Street Response program and robust support for developing an effective civilian oversight system of Portland Police. This is by no means an exhaustive list of reforms that should occur. However, this is a list of recommendations Portland’s Mayor could enact today and that Sarah would have enacted had she been mayor during these times. Sarah’s full public safety policy can be found at sarah2020.com/publicsafety.
We need visible leadership, not more violence
Sunday, May 31st, 2020
Once again Portland is waking up to disturbing images following another night of protests. Our entire nation is grieving right now, and we need to heal. So, let me be clear, the solution to community members’ outrage over police violence is not to inflict further police violence on them. It brings tears to my eyes knowing that an entire generation of young Portlanders are coming of age under this administration believing that when they speak out about police brutality, climate change, gun violence, or economic disparities, they can expect to be met by armed police in military-style gear who commit violence sanctioned by their leaders. The impact this has on our children will last a lifetime. Instead, our youth should be taught that when they see injustice, they can proudly call it out and they will be listened to by their leaders and that the people charged to protect and serve them will do just that.
The response to destructive civil unrest is not to ban all peaceful protests. Curfews, pepper spray, and tear gas are not antidotes to outrage. We are better than this, Portland. Our community needs to come together right now to mourn, to express our justifiable anger peacefully, and to be in community at a time in which so many of us are so hurt. Our city leadership must understand and ensure our safety in this time of need.
Were I the Portland mayor, the morning after disruptive protests, I would have focused my outreach to faith leaders, community leaders, advocates, activists, and elders. Instead, the incumbent spent his time with the Portland Business Alliance and plotted vengeance against Black Lives Matter demonstrators. I stand in the streets with peaceful protesters because I, too, desperately want justice for George Floyd. Those seeking justice for black lives are not opportunists or agitators, they are our neighbors. They are us.
I cannot express what a difference it would make for the Mayor of Portland to be visible and proud of standing with our community in mourning the victims of police violence at this critical time. Visible leadership is de-escalation. The incumbent’s authoritarian-leaning tactics Saturday night of issuing a curfew, deploying violence against peaceful demonstrators, and rendering Portland a warzone to avoid protest is not only inhumane, but it is also costly for our taxpayers. In the midst of a pandemic, our dollars should be used in helping our community, not gassing it. We have seen no attempts at empathy, de-escalation, or accountability from the current administration. We have seen no concern for the hundreds of unhoused people residing on the streets of downtown with no escape from the tear gas and sound cannons. What we have seen is an ‘us vs them’ attitude perpetrated by the current mayor’s frustration toward his own community, which is simply not what we need if we are going to heal. Portland needs a unifier who understands that if we spent more energy solving the underlying issues of institutional racism, lack of accountability, and displacement than we are on brutalizing those who speak out on such issues, we would have much better outcomes.
My daughter, who like her Gen Y peers is passionate about eradicating racism in America, chose to attend Saturday night’s protest. As a mother, I had serious misgivings about her attendance-- not because I do not trust our community, but because I do not trust Portland Police to keep her safe. I spent considerable time educating her about police tactics, warning signs that violence might erupt, and how to escape being tear-gassed, kettled, beaten, or arrested by Portland Police. The incumbent mayor made a conscious choice in advance of Saturday’s peaceful gathering to escalate violence against hundreds of angry and grieving Portlanders just like my daughter by instituting an unconstitutional curfew to effectively ban their presence in our streets and then enforced that ban before it was even in effect with militarized tactics and indiscriminate weapons of war. We must put an end to the practice of pitting police against everyday Portlanders who simply seek justice. I want to live in Portland where we can send our children to stand against racism and know that our public safety officers and resources will be deployed to support them, not harm them. Were Portland a just city, when our officers are confronted with images of George Floyd getting his life squeezed out of him, they would join us in our grieving rather than being ordered to brutalize us.
Protests will continue in our city and across the country until our leaders address the problems of racism, police brutality, and white supremacy undergirding our society. Our leaders cannot speak on these issues with any credibility while refusing to name the victims of police violence right here in Portland. We must dismantle the systems which uphold such atrocities and undermine accountability rather than banning peaceful protests. More police violence will only beget more disturbances. If the City of Portland wants these protests to end, it must change course and deploy tactics proven to strengthen our civic fabric rather than destroy it.
Sarah Iannarone Candidate, Portland Mayor
A word about yesterday's protests
Saturday, May 30th, 2020
Today, Portland is grieving along with the rest of the nation after witnessing the disturbing murder of George Floyd. This is compounded by the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, and others. The sadness and outrage that emanates from communities across the country is not the result of one single video but rather 400 years of institutional racism and individual prejudice that have continued to oppress marginalized groups for generations.
Violence perpetrated by those who are supposed to ‘protect and serve’ is not confined to other municipalities; it occurs here in Portland regularly. These images remind us all of the deaths that have occurred in our city at the hands of the police such as Quanice Hayes, Terrell Johnson, Kendra James, Keaton Otis, Aaron Campbell, Andre Gladen, and too many more.
Many of us woke up this morning to images of destruction in our own neighborhoods. This does not honor the victims nor reflect who we are as a community. This destruction must end. But for it to end we need visible leadership, de-escalation, actual local reforms, and a sense of community that has been crumbling in recent years. Thousands of Portlanders showed up in solidarity with communities of color, only a few dozen engaged in destructive activities. We cannot allow this fraction of protesters to distract us from the goal of achieving reforms here in Portland. I want to remind us all that Portland is strong. Portland is resilient. We will make it past one night of destruction by banding together to solve its root causes. Graffiti lasts for days; George Floyd is gone forever. Windows can be replaced; precious lives cannot.
Rioting and looting is not reflective of who we are. Yet, our community cannot begin healing until we address the problems of racism, police brutality, and white supremacy undergirding our city and society. We must dismantle the systems which uphold such atrocities and undermine accountability. I stand in solidarity with all Portlanders demanding justice in this case and others. In these challenging times, in which people have been grieving in isolation for so long, we must come together safely as a community and show that we are committed to tangible progress, not just platitudes and statements issued from on high.
Our community has everything we need to address these problems, but change is impossible without courageous, visionary leadership that believes in us. I recognize my privilege and commit to using it to the best of my ability to dismantle the racist conditions that have created so much pain from Portland to Minneapolis and beyond.
Yesterday, I showed up in solidarity with my neighbors at a vigil for victims of police violence. The event was powerful, inspiring, and I left the crowd humbled by the power of my community and driven more than ever to use the power of the Portland mayor’s office to redefine what public safety means and to ensure that all Portlanders can thrive in their daily lives without fear for their well-being.
Today, I am inviting other Portlanders to join me in volunteering to clean up our community. As I wash the pain from these walls, I am moved by a deep understanding that we must all do everything we can to fix this. We must join hand in hand to create a Portland that hasn’t existed yet, but which we believe can. It is important that we show that our Portland — from small business owners to activists, from elected leaders to essential workers — is committed to coming together to solve these problems. These times demand more than proclamations and platitudes; we must show up and put in the hard work.
Tomorrow, I will continue fighting for a fair police contract, police oversight with teeth, closing our racial income gap, addressing displacement and gentrification, and centering communities of color in this work. We must work to remove policies such as those in Minneapolis which led to this murder, change laws surrounding the use of force, and double down on equity training of our officers. Black Lives Matter cannot just be a slogan for our elected officials. We will rebuild our community, we will reform our institutions, and we will come together to build a Portland that works for all.
We got this, Portland.
Sarah Iannarone Candidate, Portland Mayor