September 25, 2020
Sarah Iannarone Demands Action from Portland Mayor Regarding Planned Right-Wing Demonstrations; Opens Safe Space for Portlanders
Tomorrow, once again, right-wing extremists plan to invade our city, incite riots, and attack marginalized communities. Whether it be proud boys, patriot prayer, or other organizations affiliated with white nationalism and chauvinism, we must make it clear that they and their hate are not welcome here.
But statements are not enough. We elect leaders to take decisive action when needed. Ted Wheeler should have long ago listened to experts advising him to use legal remedies available to enjoin the rally from ever happening. He must commit resources to local communities already working to provide safe alternatives to the violence that will occur at the hands of extremists. As usual, our current Mayor has failed to heed the community’s demand for action.
I condemn all violence. I do not want bloodshed in Portland streets, by anyone. Yet, a violent group has made their intention to intimidate, terrorize, and attack our community clear. BIPOC, Queer, and other marginalized Portlanders will bear the brunt of these attacks simply because of their identity or the color of their skin. Community self-defense is necessary and I firmly believe that Portlanders want to and should legally oppose fascism in whatever way they see fit. I am a frequent participant and advocate for non-violent direct action. Yet, I want to be very clear, tomorrow will be a dangerous day in Portland specifically for marginalized groups due to white nationalist violence and I take that danger seriously.
To be clear, there are actions that should have been taken long ago to prevent the moment we find ourselves in. Yet, here we are. I demand Portland’s current mayor do his part to keep our people safe by whatever legal means possible. All of the following 10 actions are immediately available to the Mayor. I would immediately undertake all of these activities if I were mayor:
- Pull violent officers from protest duty who have been caught on video, or through complaints, using indiscriminate brutality and use of force. The officers we witnessed brutalizing and gassing moms, medics, members of the press, veterans, everyday antifascists, and innocent bystanders should not be the ones assigned to keep Portlanders safe during this or any demonstration.
- Permanently ban the use of all chemical weapons. Wheeler banned one specific chemical for optics, and since then other similar weapons have been deployed. The Mayor should ban all chemical weapons and less lethal crowd control responses that indiscriminately harm everyone nearby, including houseless individuals, uninvolved bystanders, and families in their homes.
- Require equal enforcement of the law. Police should not face off with antifascists. When white nationalists and affiliated demonstrators wave guns at Portlanders, they should be arrested. When well known violent right-wing brawlers with arrest warrants walk by officers, they should be arrested. Far-right extremists have made their plans for violence clear and they are the threat to our community, not everyday Portlanders. Police who fail to enforce the law impartially should be disciplined and removed from policing future demonstrations.
- Work openly and collaboratively with District Attorney Schmidt, ensuring that his policies regarding protesters’ rights to assemble are fully realized. This also requires ensuring that the Chief of Police openly accepts and complies with these policies that recently won a striking mandate in the May Primary Election.
- Make early targeted arrests of wanted right-wing actors such as the man who recently pointed a loaded gun at a crowd threatening dozens of community members, or those with warrants whom police allowed to roam freely.
- Close streets to right-wing extremists. Vehicular assaults and homicides are a dangerous threat. The streets near demonstrations should be closed to potential murderers such as he who stole Heather Heyer’s life in Charlottesville. Such murders have come close to happening in Portland and other cities. Furthermore, streets should be closed to prevent these outside agitators from invading neighborhoods and the downtown core.
- Explicitly sanction private tech companies that are complicit in platforming the promotion, coordination, and funding of these violent attacks. These companies should be named and contacted by our local officials and all legal avenues should be explored to halt their complicity in the intimidation and assault of Portlanders.
- End all cooperation between PPB and far-right groups. PPB has been in communication with right-wing groups and coordinated with or escorted them at previous demonstrations. Police even hid from the Mayor the fact that these groups were found with long guns trained on Portlanders. Coordinating between police and right-wing groups does not make Portlanders safer and erodes trust. These communications should end and be made public. Further, any intelligence that has been collected surrounding the violent plans of extremists should be publicly shared so Portlanders can make informed decisions to keep themselves safe from right-wing violence. Lastly, the mayor should require all law enforcement officers to disclose any communications, connections, and affiliations with hate groups.
- Place flags at half-mast to honor all those who have been harmed by right-wing and police violence in Portland, and the flags should stay there for a year as a reminder of why we are fighting for justice.
- Open City Hall and other government buildings as "Sanctuary Spaces" where vulnerable Portlanders can escape the violence they face this Saturday. Vulnerable Portlanders, many unhoused, will require safe refuge as extremists descend upon our city.
A continued lack of leadership from the Mayor's Office puts lives at stake. We cannot allow Our Portland to be a battleground for extremists. While I believe the mayor could take the above community-led actions immediately, he seems intent on implementing the same failed tactics time and again. I am offering a new path forward in which strong, healthy communities are our first responders. While I cannot force him to take these actions, there are things I and my campaign can do to help keep our community safe. To that end, I will be opening up a safe place for Portlanders to escape right-wing violence or to share in community as our city is once again under siege. Portlanders can stop by and access protective gear (such as COVID masks & hand sanitizer), drinking water, snacks, and other support as needed. We will coordinate rides for those who need to escape violence. And we will also once again be collecting period supplies for our houseless community. To be clear, we in no way want to discourage Portlanders from showing up to confront white supremacy. But this is not possible for everyone and others might need a break or safe harbor from the violence they did not choose. Please come by to escape the violence, refresh, be in community, or to donate supplies. To keep this location a safe place, we ask that those who wish to utilize this offer or drop off supplies, please contact our campaign at (503) 310-7762.