Rethinking Public Safety
A Comprehensive Plan for Protecting All Portlanders by Sarah Iannarone, Candidate for Portland Mayor
Safety is an issue on the minds of all Portlanders. Many have expressed dissatisfaction with our current standard of “public safety” — from crime and criminal justice to policing, transportation to sanitation and hygiene.
Many Portlanders agree that as it stands today, our city is not a safe place for all— in perception or in reality. Public safety encompasses everything, from ending illegal police stops to creating streets where kids can safely walk to school. For our unhoused neighbors, public safety means having a place to sleep at night, insulated from the elements.
In 2017, over half of the arrests made by the Portland Police Bureau were of people experiencing homelessness. In 2018, 92 unhoused people died on our streets. Traffic deaths continue to reach epidemic levels—from 37 deaths in 2015 to 44 as of mid-November 2019—despite an emphasis on “Vision Zero.” Even though Portland is a Sanctuary City, many residents remain threatened by repeated incursions from right-wing agitators that go unchecked (or are even sanctioned) by local authorities. Polls suggest that the majority of Black and Hispanic Portlanders are not satisfied with our police force’s ability to protect them from violent crime and feel that policing isn’t currently addressing their safety or needs.
It is imperative that we come together as a community for a critical rethinking of what public safety means, and for whom.
Our communities are resilient. We must put forth policies that respect this fact. All who live, work, or play in our city have an inherent right to safety. Living under any threat of harm takes a measurable toll on Portlanders’ health outcomes, behavior, and quality of life. Ensuring physical and mental safety frees our citizens to focus on thriving in their individual lives and building up their communities. Protecting the wellbeing of our city’s most marginalized will mean that those who are struggling won’t be further burdened—and will, in fact, have a better chance of success—through the choices and priorities we establish in City Hall.
Portlanders are safer when their basic needs are met. A large part of Portland’s lack of safety is due to a lack of leadership and vision in regards to housing, transportation, and unemployment. Portland’s history has been marked by decades of intentional and unintentional marginalization, structural oppression, and exclusion of many residents. Portland has been the ‘City that Works’ only for a privileged few. Sarah knows that vestiges of this legacy live on today, whether through disproportionate traffic stops or antiquated planning decisions that displace communities of color. As mayor, Sarah will remain committed to moving beyond the City’s equity rhetoric to defining and achieving quantifiable metrics and deploying targeted investments to reduce key disparities across Portland’s communities.
Public safety is much more than an individual dilemma: we are facing a number of overlapping public health crises. Sarah firmly believes that as Portlanders, we are only as safe as the most marginalized people in our city. She believes that we must radically redefine how Portland’s concept of “safety” to one that serves all of our residents. We all deserve to feel safe: communities of color, LGBTQ+ people, houseless folks, undocumented individuals, children, and seniors. As Mayor, Sarah will not decrease the public safety budget but will instead invest in the safety of all Portlanders.
We cannot begin to tackle these issues without an explicit focus on historical oppression, class struggle, and intersectionality. Through lived experience and in conversation with Portlanders from all walks of life, Sarah has developed four areas of emphasis for holistically reshaping public safety in our city:
- Safety for All
- Our City as Sanctuary
- Justice for All: Policing & Criminal Justice Reform
- Protecting Our Freedom of Assembly
What follows is Sarah’s “Rethinking Public Safety” platform. This policy will serve as a policymaking road map for the Iannarone administration and a commitment to her priorities, values, and beliefs.
Safety for All
To ensure that all Portlanders can thrive in their daily lives without fear for their well-being, our city must rethink public safety beyond policing. To reach this goal, Sarah is advocating for: the creation of neighborhood safety hubs; a drastic expansion of the Portland Street Response; ending traffic violence; an innovative approach to tackling gun violence; urgency in disaster preparedness, and more.
- Create Community Health & Safety (CHS) Hubs citywide which will provide temporary shelter beds, hygiene and health facilities, and critical services. As a city, our policies make living in poverty incredibly difficult when instead we should be providing relief for our neighbors who have fallen on hard times. Currently, Portlanders experiencing the trauma of extreme poverty are further victimized by local government rather than treated with compassion. Sarah will support community-led investments for a CHS hub in every neighborhood because no Portlander should be far from a safe space where they can rest— free from harm, warm, dry, and with access to basic human needs. Investment in these hubs will direct critical infrastructure dollars from over-policing towards schools, libraries, and community centers to help us meet existing demand. This will also increase services for people struggling with our current housing and health crises, as well as those seeking shelter during heat waves, storms, power outages and recovering from natural disasters.
- Expand and enhance the Portland Street Response. The Portland Street Response is a program that deserves long term support. Portland should expand this initiative to increase efficiencies across agencies and bureaus while reducing wasteful and dangerous police responses to incidents involving people experiencing homelessness or mental health crises. Far too many tax dollars are being spent policing houseless individuals. Instead of dispatching armed officers, many “unwanted person” calls could instead be handled by social workers, mental health professionals, or other services. Currently, we ask Portland police officers to function as counselors, mental health professionals, and social workers. They are not adequately trained in any of these fields. The dispatch of armed officers should be reserved for incidents that require such an immediate response. Our city has a wealth of knowledge on this topic, and as mayor, Sarah will work with organizations that serve the unhoused such as Street Roots to increase safety rather than stand in the way of this crucial innovation. Further, Sarah fully supports Commissioner Hardesty’s work on this issue and as mayor will commit to giving Commissioner Hardesty and other community experts the resources they need to make such programs a success.
- Reaffirm Portland’s commitment to Vision Zero by redirecting transportation investments toward reducing speeds and rethinking the design of streets to prioritize pedestrians, transit riders, cyclists, and other vulnerable road users. Sarah is a transportation expert and enthusiast who has spent years of her life navigating Portland by foot, by bike, and by bus. She understands firsthand the difficulty of trying to cross a busy street on foot with one’s child or grandparent. Despite Portland’s pledge in 2015 to eliminate traffic fatalities within ten years using good faith investments in traffic safety improvements, Portland’s streets are more dangerous than ever before. As of this publication, 44 Portlanders have been killed on our streets, up from 37 deaths in 2015. This is an unacceptable public health epidemic that disproportionately harms the most marginalized members of our community. The majority of our city’s most dangerous roads and intersections are located in low-income neighborhoods in East Portland. Youth, seniors, Portlanders with disabilities, unhoused Portlanders, and transit-dependent Portlanders living in low-income zip codes are among those statistically most susceptible to this unacceptable traffic violence. Alcohol, speeding, and poor lighting represent three of the most significant contributors to traffic violence; curbing drunk driving and investments in safer street design represent two important tactics to curb fatalities. Portland must respond with action and investments commensurate with the threat that our streets currently pose to the health and well-being of our community.
- Align transportation investments and policies for safety. An Iannarone administration will reprioritize the litany of overlapping transportation revenue streams to ensure our investments tackle congestion in tandem with our most pressing threats: traffic safety, rampant inequality, and climate change. Sarah supports working with Salem legislators to give Portland more authority to regulate speed limits and increase the number of traffic safety cameras at dangerous intersections. Sarah would work to secure jurisdictional transfer of dangerous state-owned facilities to The City of Portland and demand that ODOT redirect the state funds currently allocated for the proposed Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion to instead retrofit dangerous ODOT-owned arterials (including but not limited to Lombard, 82nd, Barbur, MLK Jr St, Northwest Portland’s Highway 30 and Powell Boulevard). It is unconscionable that ODOT is proposing to spend half a billion dollars on a freeway expansion that hasn’t seen a traffic fatality in over a decade when numerous ODOT facilities frequently harm, maim, and kill Portlanders walking, biking and driving.
- Combat drunk driving by renewing the previous work undertaken in partnership with OLCC and Multnomah County to sanction negligent, over-serving establishments. Portland should lobby TriMet to provide more frequent (and affordable) late-night transit to entertainment districts, and Portland should champion legislative efforts to lower the legal BAC level statewide to .05.
- Erect public restrooms throughout Portland to promote sanitation, accessibility, and vibrant public life, including tourism. There is no good reason why there should be stagnant urine or feces in the streets of Portland. All Portlanders, housed and unhoused alike, will benefit from public bathrooms. No one, regardless of housing status, prefers unsanitary streets. The refusal to erect such structures is not due to budget but rather due to the notion that making it harder for poor people to exist in a certain location will force them to find a new location. This has proven to be false. Making it more difficult for those living in poverty to exist in any given location results in decreased safety and sanitation.
- Establish community clean-ups to keep our neighborhoods healthy and tidy. Portland should be a city that all Portlanders are proud of. For this to happen, we want Portland to be clean. Unsanitary conditions are not preferred by any social class. However, some of our neighbors are less equipped to contribute to our goal of clean streets, thus, the City shall fund community clean-ups to increase livability and sanitation but also civic engagement and volunteerism.
- Stop the criminalization of poverty by: immediately ending the sweeps of houseless individuals; ending the practice of sending armed officers to engage with houseless individuals simply existing in public; directing officers not to enforce low-level victimless crimes, or crimes of poverty. The Portland Police Bureau shall not use any funds or other resources for arresting or citing houseless people for offenses related to their poverty and houselessness, or for engaging in actions that a houseless person might reasonably need to do outside. Further, complaints of violence against people experiencing houselessness should be taken seriously and addressed regardless of who reports such crimes.
- Address domestic violence by prioritizing city resources to combat immediate threats to physical safety and support longer-term education and counseling. For survivors of domestic violence who desire to leave their relationship, resources and housing should be available to ensure their safety. This should include temporary shelters, trauma-informed care, and prompt investigation of sexual assault, along with prioritizing the enforcement of restraining orders, weapons seizures, and other strategies shown to reduce and de-escalate domestic violence. Those who wish to stay in their relationship should be connected to local resources supporting the transition to a healthy relationship.
- Prioritize the safety of LGBTQ+ Portlanders. Members of the LGBTQ+ community are at increased risk of negative bias, violence, suicide, and other threats. Nationwide, in 2018, there were 26 reported deaths of transgender or gender non-conforming people due to violence, and the majority of them were Black transgender women. To mitigate this inequity, Portland must promptly and thoroughly investigate hate crimes, missing person cases, sexual assault, and reports of discrimination. Further, with Sarah as mayor, the City will stop the deadnaming of Portlanders. For context, "deadnaming occurs when someone, intentionally or not, refers to a person who’s transgender by the name they used before they transitioned." The City shall fund a non-police LGBTQ+ community liaison, as many community members don't feel safe contacting the police about safety issues. Regardless of the level of police involvement needed, an optional buffer between the community and police increases safety, both in perception and in reality. Lastly, the City should partner with LGBTQ+ organizations to fund access to mental health resources.
- Support the creation of supervised injection sites to allow for a safe place for those struggling with addiction to use safely. Criminalizing drug use does not make drug use less likely; it makes it less safe. Research from other cities demonstrates these sites would prevent the overdose and death of Portlanders living on the streets, and decrease the spread of communicable diseases including HIV and Hepatitis C. Further, individuals using these sites will be exposed to treatment options and counselors, which will increase the likelihood that they have the resources and support necessary to overcome addiction. While drug use should be discouraged, there are more productive ways to do so than shunning and criminalizing those struggling with addiction. Ultimately, Portland must move toward a full drug decriminalization model.
- Work to end gun violence by creating a red flag registry and implementing a gun buyback program. A gun safety taskforce should be implemented that will focus on the prevalence of domestic violence, white nationalist terrorism, misogynistic violence, and fascist gangs. While the federal government has not done enough to end mass gun violence, there are things that the City of Portland could do to make all of us safer. Sarah’s administration will immediately create a gun buyback program that will pay community members for any firearm with no questions asked. These weapons should then be immediately destroyed. Further, Portland should use the code enforcement process to ensure that all gun shops require background checks for guns, including at gun shows.
- Promote child abuse prevention by preventing the causes of child abuse: strengthening our city’s response to food insecurity, lack of stable housing, economic stressors, intergenerational trauma, lack of physical health, and lack of mental health services. We must also recognize that communities of color have disproportionately been targets of family separation and incarceration in child abuse cases. Trauma-informed intervention strategies need to provide immediate support to children while supporting whole families as much as possible. When we start dealing with these issues with strategic investments, we remove the barriers to child abuse prevention and begin addressing the root causes as a systems-level change.
- Prepare for disaster. There will be more to come in Sarah’s policies on disaster preparation which will demand its own platform. However, experts agree that it is only a matter of time until Portland is hit with “the big one,” the unprecedented Cascadia earthquake that happens every few hundred years. As Mayor, Sarah will ensure that our infrastructure can handle such a catastrophe. And just as importantly, Sarah will ensure that our society can handle mass displacement. Our compassion for our unhoused neighbors is not only reflective of our values but also a signifier of our preparedness for a day in which 70,000 Portlanders could become houseless due to a major natural disaster.
Our City As Sanctuary
When Portlanders proudly proclaim Portland’s sanctuary status, they do not simply mean that our police department has minimum contact with federal agencies such as Immigration Control Enforcement (ICE). However, far too often, our elected officials use this very low bar to avoid meaningful scrutiny of our city’s relationship with this and other troubled agencies. Portlanders want and deserve a true sanctuary city that does everything in its power to ensure all Portlanders, regardless of their citizenship status, will not be victimized by ICE, HLS, JTTF or other Federal forces. We must ensure that our citizens do not find themselves unnecessarily thrust into a criminal justice system that increases their risk of deportation or incarceration based on nation of origin, religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, or housing status.
- Stop all cooperation with ICE. While Portland as a city cannot abolish ICE, we can abolish all of Portland’s ties to ICE. Any action taken by The City of Portland should be weighed by potential impacts to our historically oppressed undocumented neighbors. Sanctuary must be more meaningful than simply ending communication with ICE. True sanctuary means actively working against the harms that ICE perpetrates in our community. Portland should use all legal avenues to cancel the lease for ICE’s facility in South Portland, commit to supporting our undocumented families, and work to ensure our neighbors are kept out of any federal database that ICE might use to target our communities. The racist and xenophobic villainizing of immigrants and refugees has no place in our city. Sarah believes in leading with compassion and creating a city where all newcomers are welcomed. Our limited resources should not be used to enact the unjust and immoral policies of Donald Trump. Under Sarah’s administration, Portland will not partner with ICE, will not contract our services or facilities to ICE, and will leverage the power of our municipal government wherever possible to actively dismantle the harassment and profiling of undocumented Portlanders and other targets of the federal administration.
- Remove all Joint Terrorism Task Force agents and cooperation. The JTTF is not making Portlanders safer. In actuality, this outdated program, a vestige of the post-9/11 war on terror, is currently run by Donald Trump’s justice department and is susceptible to his influence and policies. Portlanders have made it clear that they do not wish to be complicit in the atrocities perpetrated by President Trump, and Portland’s mayor should stand in solidarity with the community in committing to never again partner with JTTF.
- End partnership with corporations engaged in human rights abuses. Portland taxpayers should be confident that the funds they entrust to the City will not be spent to enrich companies that clearly do not reflect the values of Portland. Sarah will work to cease contracting with corporations such as but not limited to G4S Security, Wells Fargo, Chase Bank, and others convicted or credibly accused of human rights abuses, environmental devastation, and sovereign government destabilization. We welcome immigrants to our community, and also reject the notion that Portland’s resources should be spent supporting the same multinational corporations that force children and families to flee their homelands.
Justice for All
Even in Portland, our policing and criminal justice systems unfairly target and disproportionately impact Black people, Indigenous people, people of color, and other historically and currently oppressed community members. Our elected officials must commit to ending the disparate treatment of marginalized Portlanders and instead direct our precious resources towards addressing violent and abusive crimes in a trauma-informed manner. We must end “broken windows policing,” increase transparency, and ensure that Black Lives Matter is a public policy, not just a slogan.
- End “broken windows policing” because it is clear that the increased policing of communities, especially communities of color, is not making Portlanders safe. In actuality, increased criminalization of communities is making Portlanders less safe. Instead of spending millions of dollars every year focusing on low-level, often victimless crimes, Portland Police should focus on the heinous crimes that the community cares most about such as sexual assault, physical assault, domestic violence, murder, attempted murder, police violence, and hate crimes. While “broken windows policing” is a mindset that permeates throughout the bureau, crimes such as jaywalking, failure to obey, disorderly conduct in the second degree, interfering with public transportation, resisting arrest, and offensive littering should never be the sole basis for an arrest.
- Black Lives Matter. As long as Black Portlanders and Portlanders of color are disproportionately policed, arrested, charged, and jailed, our city leadership has failed. Our police department is not serving and protecting all of us if some of us are being discriminated against. Thus, the success of the police department will be judged in part by how it has worked to close the gap in disparate treatment of groups of Portlanders. Black Portlanders are disproportionately arrested by Portland Police, and this disparity can only be blamed on racial discrimination. Until we put a stop to this, our police department is failing its mandate to serve and protect us all. As Mayor, Sarah will explicitly focus on creating measurable metrics to determine whether Portland’s policies are actively working to eradicate institutional white supremacy and provide restorative justice and improved material conditions for Black Portlanders.
- Transitional Justice. The City of Portland should devote funds and resources to the expungement of records for low-level drug crimes, crimes of poverty, nonviolent crimes with race-biased enforcement, and crimes that are no longer illegal. Unknown numbers of Portlanders suffer housing, employment, and other subtle and overt forms of discrimination because racist and ill-conceived policies of the past have targeted them with permanent barriers. As Mayor, Sarah will prioritize with policy, purse, and partnership— righting these wrongs and removing barriers that more equitable and sensible practices would have never put there in the first place. Further, the taxation of the marijuana industry should be placed back into the communities that have been decimated by marijuana prohibition, not into increased policing of those same communities.
- Decriminalize sex work. We must end the criminalization of consensual adult sex and focus instead on sex traffickers and abusers, not workers and associated acts. Specifically, Portland should issue a directive to end the enforcement of ORS 167.007 and ORS 167.008. While this is not a long term solution, it will provide immediate relief and free up resources to focus on crimes of victimhood.
- Remove armed police officers from schools because guns in schools do not make students safer. Armed officers in schools contribute to the normalization of gun culture in our society. While officers in schools have not historically prevented school shootings, if their mandate is to do so, then they should not engage in perpetuating the school-to-prison pipeline that disproportionately impacts youth of color. Disciplinary actions should take place within the context of the school structure, not the criminal justice system. Lastly, as distrust of the bureau is high especially among minority students, the presence of armed officers is a distraction from learning. For these reasons, Portland Police shall not have a stationary presence within learning facilities.
- Prioritize the eradication of hate crimes. Portland’s rise in hate crimes is indicative of how poorly our city leadership has done in rebuking the rise of fascism and white nationalism. The eradication of hate crimes such as those perpetrated by Jeremy Christian would not only keep the most marginalized amongst us safer, but would also send a message to fascist organizers that their brand of hatred is not welcome in Portland. To end such atrocities, Sarah recommends increased funding to Portland United Against Hate (PUAH) and community response to the rise of hate crimes.
- Re-legalize aiding the homeless in public spaces because it should always be legal to lend a helping hand. Safety is essential, but we cannot allow for our neighbors to starve when there are common-sense solutions that help the less fortunate among us.
- Decriminalize drug and alcohol dependency. Addiction is not a criminal problem, it is a public health issue. Instead of spending money to police, adjudicate, and jail those struggling with addiction, we should invest in harm-reduction and recovery programs to help individuals live healthier lives. Police should immediately be directed to stop prioritizing drug use as a criminal matter.
- Increase transparency in public records requests by claiming exemptions only when they are necessary to prevent harm or protect legitimate public interests, not political interests. Sarah will increase access to public records by charging predictable fees designed to encourage vigilance by the public and press, and to tax bulk data-mining by corporations. Further, Iannarone will provide low-cost access to anyone who requests records related to themselves or lost loved ones. Portland should treat the Police Bureau like other agencies; right now they keep a separate, outdated email system that is harder to search and easier to “lose” emails. PPB should transition to Office365 like the rest of the city bureaus. As mayor, Sarah will institute a $20 flat fee for any email search that captures fewer than 100 email documents (or if the requester agrees to a random sampling of 100 documents) and also provide public access to all records requests on a website (but allow the requestor to opt-in to a 72-hour embargo to protect journalists).
- Commit to privacy for all Portlanders by ensuring that no facial recognition technology will be deployed on the streets of Portland either in a stationary manner nor during the policing of events. Portlanders have a right to be free from surveillance without a warrant.
- Prioritize the reintegration of formerly incarcerated individuals. When community members have been incarcerated, they often lack the resources to live a life free of crime. Thus, Portland should engage in a job training program for formerly incarcerated individuals that helps to reintegrate them back into society. The government is not absolved of the responsibility of those whose freedom has been taken away from them simply because the jail cell doors have been opened. If formerly incarcerated individuals are not reintegrated, both the offender and the community are less safe.
- Portlanders should be invested and involved in their police force. Compared with other City bureaus, Portland Police police are uniquely insulated from scrutiny and consequences. Where other agencies give the public an opportunity to weigh in on policy changes before they go into effect, PPB operates relatively free from public comment and oversight. In a healthy democracy, our community would have real power in investigating police misconduct and the use of force. While the intentions of both the Community Oversight Advisory Board (COAB) and the Portland Committee on Community-Engaged Policing (PCCEP) may be noble (and court-mandated), a lack of authority has left the oversight boards without any enforcement capabilities. Sarah proposes we devolve current community oversight from overarching, detached advisory groups to multiple specialized oversight boards created for different stakeholders and frontline communities based on their needs, experiences, and relationships with the police.
- Establish a residency requirement for incoming Portland Police Officers. Beginning in 2024, new officer hires will be required to live within the city limits of Portland so that they are invested in the community they are policing.
- Limit the use of force. Portland Police will be required to undergo more de-escalation, implicit bias, and equity training than combat training. Further, de-escalation should be a requirement of all Portland police officers, with the use of force limited to last resort, only after de-escalation efforts have been attempted. Chokeholds and shooting at moving cars should be immediately banned.
- A Fair Police Contract. Sarah is a staunch supporter of organized labor and particularly recognizes the importance of public sector workers in rebuilding our social safety net and enhancing our city’s social services. Police and other emergency responders are important components of the services the City provides. Like all workers and public servants, police should be compensated fairly. However, the police union contract should not include provisions that decrease police accountability or subvert the public’s ability to enact true civilian oversight.
- Demilitarize the police by ending the bureau’s investment and proliferation of military-style weapons and tactics. Portland must cease employing the practices and tools designed for foreign warfare. The practice of sending bureau members to receive training from foreign and domestic militaries and military consultants fosters a culture that views community members as enemy combatants and makes both officers and civilians less safe.
- Abolish the Gang Enforcement Team because its continued existence, regardless of renaming and rebranding, is simply racist. The most dangerous gangs in Portland are the white nationalist gangs that continue to invade the City. While all gangs should be discouraged, it is clear that the police have been profiling people of color rather than individuals engaging in criminal activity. The increased policing of marginalized communities only works to deteriorate trust between groups and thus makes both civilians and police less safe. Police should investigate and charge crimes on an individual basis rather than treating community members differently simply based on their appearance.
- End Police Secondary Employment Team by rescinding the PPB directive regarding Secondary Employment. This directive allows for police employment contracts between The City of Portland and local businesses which results in justice for hire. Police should serve the community and not be able to be bought by those who can afford it.
- Stop asking officers to be something they are not. We are asking the police to do too much when we ask them to also function as counselors, mental health professionals, and social workers. Instead, they should be focused on crime and building relationships in the community. This will allow for a reduction in The City of Portland’s Police Bureau budget and reallocate savings to the other aspects of this policy.
- Establish a zero-tolerance policy for racist and violent officers. Police officers who have been found demonstrating racist or violent behavior have lost the trust of the public and shall be fired. This includes but is not limited to the erection of Nazi or white nationalist memorabilia, collaboration with white nationalist groups, or the profiling of and/or violence against black Portlanders. While not every firing will hold up due to the failure to obtain a fair police union contract, the City has a moral obligation to do the right thing.
Protecting Our Freedom of Assembly
Portland prides itself as a city of political involvement. We must commit to protecting this involvement while also making clear that Portland stands against right-wing extremism, white nationalism, white supremacy, bigotry, and neo-fascism. We should be proud of our protest culture, not ashamed of it. Currently, Portland has a constant presence in the national spotlight for its lack of leadership in regards to extremist agitators. As mayor, Sarah will show visible leadership, demilitarize the response to protests, discourage right-wing extremists from invading Portland, and promote civil unity.
- Visible leadership. We must have leadership that shows up in times of conflict alongside our people, rather than deploying police by default to street protests. Sarah has unwaveringly demonstrated her willingness to stand in the streets in solidarity with everyday antifascists and movements for social justice, and pledges to continue to use the powers of City Hall to encourage and support the First Amendment
- Demilitarize police response to protest by removing armed officers in military-style gear and instead monitoring events from a distance. Sarah has witnessed time and time again how riot officers arriving on scene escalate the tension at demonstrations and prevent the possibility of dealing with crimes on a case-by-case basis. When police rely on riot control agents, it can affect everyone in a crowd, potentially injuring innocent participants and exposing the City to costly lawsuits.
- Prevent right-wing extremists from feeling welcome in Portland. The City should take an earnest and innovative look into all legal avenues to prevent hate groups from crossing state lines in an attempt to commit violence in Portland. Before and after all legal avenues have been exhausted, the full support of the City should be with groups standing up to bigotry.
- End violence at protests. Police should intervene in public fistfights and other violent crimes, especially those targeting marginalized groups in furtherance of white nationalism.
- Stand up for Portland’s values by speaking out against hate groups with the goal of destigmatizing antifascism and clearly demonstrating that the people of Portland wish to stand up to the rise of fascism and white nationalism. Sarah rejects the notion of “both sides.” When the people stand up, the mayor should stand with them. The demonization of antifascism is dangerous for democracy. Antifascism in practicality does not look like the black-clad protesters that are often highlighted in the media, but rather moms, teachers, nurses, union members, and other members of society that wish to live in a just world.
- Prioritize people over property by ensuring that indiscriminate use of force is not used against massive crowds. Crimes should be dealt with on an individual basis and we must be clear that participating in an act of peaceful civil disobedience is not illegal. If someone engages in violent criminal behavior they should be charged. However, we must not risk the safety and rights of all Portlanders in order to prevent small scale property damage.
- Promote civil unity by encouraging participation in peaceful protests. When the city leadership fails to pick a side, they are leaving the door open for hostility to thrive. Instead, Portland’s government and leadership should always choose to reflect Portland’s values of respect, inclusion, and diversity of thought.