August 23, 2020
Statement on Biased Law Enforcement
When the law does not apply equally to everyone, it is not a law, but a privilege for those who don't face enforcement. The President’s lawlessness inspires his supporters to act with impunity. Our current Mayor’s disregard for the law trickles down into the Police he oversees.
Last month, Wheeler’s re-election campaign paid out more in fines for campaign finance violations than he raised from his wealthy donors. Wheeler has thrown up his hands in defeat and now waits out the remaining days of his term while our city twists in the wind.
Wheeler has lost trust from moderates and conservatives for his failure to keep our city safe. It is not just Portland's activists who are sorely disappointed in his leadership.
This weekend, pro-Trump white nationalists marched on Portland again. When I listened to OPB this morning, following the violence at the rally, they reported the following:
Police said they did not declare a riot because they didn’t have the resources to handle one. After pro-Trump demonstrators left and counterprotesters returned to Terry Schrunk Plaza, federal officials declared an unlawful assembly.
Portland has become a destination for hate groups in the last four years, in part because Portland Police Bureau has not equally applied the law in responding to these outside agitators as they do to Portlanders-- youth, moms, veterans-- who stand up to say “Black Lives Matter.”
This unequal application of the law infuriates progressive Portlanders. Our taxes are paying for local and federal police to serve as pro-Trump security forces.
In a single day, Portland Police have spent $20,000 on tear gas that hurts our children’s lungs during a respiratory pandemic, and causes people like me to menstruate painfully multiple times in succession.
PPB now declares nearly every Black Lives Matter demonstration unlawful, sometimes before they even begin, and often in the absence of any, even remotely-questionable questionable activity among demonstrators.
Yet PPB did nothing when Trump supporters pointed guns at racial justice supporters this weekend - a class C Felony under Oregon statute.
They also failed to arrest one notorious brawler whose history of violence has led to active warrants for his arrest. Then, as soon as the pro-Trump rally ended, Trump’s secret police were back in our streets, harming our kids.
The political motivation and racial bias behind PPB’s use of force and arrests (or lack thereof) is clear. Wheeler’s failure to address these underlying causes has left us caught in a riptide of protests about protests about protests about police misconduct.
The Oregonian reported last week on the years of Police violence targeted against the Black community. Black people have been arrested at alarmingly high rates at the recent demonstrations stemming from this history.
This is at a time when we should be building community power to effect structural change for a more racially just city.
Wheeler’s persistent cooperation with Federal secret police, and his Police Bureau’s coziness with Trump supporters and racially-biased, politically-slanted enforcement of the law, further highlights the root causes of this summer’s mass demonstrations.
I’m working alongside community leaders to clean up Wheeler’s mess and begin holding these outside agitators accountable for their years of hateful violence. We must also hold Police accountable who selectively enforce the law.
We must not allow anyone to assault and threaten our neighbors with impunity. But the solution begins with acknowledging the problem: our Police and our Mayor are standing with white nationalists instead of with the marginalized people they target.
Portland Police, like Trump supporters, might issue talking points claiming they stand for rule of law, or even freedom, but their actions speak louder than their words… or in Wheeler’s case, their silence. Together, we can hold them accountable.
We keep us safe.