I appreciate your desire to engage with your City government, with my team, and with me. Thank you for participating, thank you for caring.
Let me be very clear: I acknowledge that as a white person and City leader, my experience, my burdens and my grief are not the same as that of my Black colleagues and Black Portlanders. Yet my response, in protest, in policy and in supporting justice and community healing, joins a collective one. I stand with Black community members here in Portland and nationwide, and with my City Council colleagues in striving to make sure we act to get real change resulting in a more just and equitable society.
My staff and I have received thousands of emails and phone calls over the past week, expressing anguish over the appalling murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the subsequent protests, police behavior and the pending Portland police contract. Thank you for contacting my team and me.
First, I express my sincere condolences to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the many other Black Americans and Black community members who have been killed at the hands of police and related violence. I am very sorry for your loss.
I thank the protestors demonstrating peacefully in attempts to hold us, your local City government and police accountable. I stand for your first amendment right to do so. I am listening to your message and reflect on it as we move to act.
I share many of your concerns, and as we move towards the adoption of the Portland Police budget and pending contract, I will be listening to community first and center my actions on the needs of the Black community, and allies in the Indigenous community and communities of color. I recognize that no one person or group speaks for any community, and I will consider all input in making decisions.
We know that policing and police violence disproportionately affects and targets black and brown communities. Widely circulated videos, history and data reflect this and should be considered. I encourage you to send my staff and me evidence and resources that might not be so well known for discussion.
I will continue to follow the lead of Mayor Wheeler and Commissioner Hardesty regarding the necessary actions the City must take, while also offering perspective from almost twelve years of striving to address community concerns and police accountability. I am working closely with Dr. Markisha Smith, Director of the Office of Equity and Human Rights, who is helping to guide both our thinking and actions as City leaders work with leaders in the Black community to address longstanding injustices.
As we act to address your concerns around policing, my staff and I are constantly reminding ourselves that policing is but a single piece of a much larger system of oppression, felt most acutely by the Black community, Indigenous community, and communities of color. My staff and I will continue to participate in, act and elevate the work of the Bureaus and City employees who are promoting and embodying racial equity and social justice practices. Change starts within, and my office is committed towards acting on policy that fosters belonging for those who have been intentionally left out for hundreds of years.
I encourage you to continue contacting my office via phone or email to express your concern. Please keep in mind that due to the volume of calls and emails, my staff and I are not able to respond to everyone who contacts us now, but we are responding as time allows and we are documenting all voicemails and emails. Your voice does matter.
Some requests for assistance not related to either the pandemic or the Black Lives Matter movement may also receive slower response than we strive for. We are working as hard as we can, and humbly request your understanding and patience – for us, and for everyone around you as we navigate two public health crises: the acute one of COVID-19 and the ongoing chronic one of systemic racism.
If you would like to take action to support vulnerable communities, please consider the following: (this is not an exhaustive list of resources and organizations; and my team and I will update this list as we find new avenues to support)
Research our local racial justice organizations and the work they do to advance opportunity and justice for Black Portlanders. Please keep in mind that many of these organizations are grieving and supporting Black community. If you contact them, be clear you are offering support, not asking them to educate you.
Urban League of Portland
Black Lives Matter Portland chapter
Don’t Shoot Portland
Black Resilience Fund
Generational Resistance PDX
Support Black-owned restaurants
Directory Black-Owned Businesses | Mercatus