Many constituents and media contacts are asking me to "speak out" regarding current events. In eleven and a half years in office, I have rarely if ever found making statements in the media the best way to find solutions. I am working with my colleagues on the Council and with Dr. Markisha Smith and the Office of Equity and Human Rights on finding ways to involve the communities of Portland in addressing federal interference in our city, as well as local police accountability. As Dr. Smith and Mayor Wheeler note in their Op Ed, “The Civil Rights Movement took years; lasting, meaningful reform and dismantling anti-Black, racist, oppressive systems will as well. We cannot simply offer platitudes and small gestures of our commitment to the Black community―we must change our policies, practices, and procedures. It is time for white people, regardless of position, to step back, listen and follow. “
Per the City Charter, the Mayor is in charge of Bureau assignments. While I have sometimes disagreed with Mayor Wheeler's (and Mayor Hales') choices regarding my portfolio, I have always supported the Mayor's decisions. Mayor Wheeler has joined with Mayors across the country in calling for an end to the federal interference ordered by the White House in response to demonstrations in Portland and elsewhere in support of police accountability and the Black Lives Matter movement. He has invested three and a half years in learning and leading the Police Bureau. Changing the Police Commissioner now would not be a wise decision. While there is much to do to change local police accountability, right now we must unite in opposing federal interference. The people of Portland can and will take care of our own business. Mayor Wheeler is best qualified to lead our response to that challenge.
Since I already posted four statements including one on the federal actions, I am investing my time in addressing policies, practices, and procedures with the Office of Equity rather than posting another -- other than this. My statements in reverse chronological order, the full text linked with excerpts quoted:
" The actions by federal officers last night are irresponsible and reprehensible. Donavan La Bella sustained a life-threatening injury while exercising his rights of free speech and assembly. Portlanders are right to be outraged. "
"People who commit violent acts are not welcome here – whichever side of the confrontation line they occupy during the demonstrations. Those responsible must be brought to justice, whether they wear a badge or not.
The good people of Portland are united against hate."
" And to those who are saying that we can fix everything by going to the ballot to pass something to change the Charter: It doesn’t work that way. This is the epitome of systemic racism, institutional racism, the way the law is set up. We changed the Charter in 2012 to acknowledge that there are 52 weeks in a year, and therefor 26 paychecks rather than 27 in some years. It was overwhelmingly accepted voters. The Police union, the Police Officers Union and the Firefighters Unions all appealed it, and it was overturned in arbitration. That just shows the preeminence of contract law and property law - and those who’ve owned this country and controlled the legal agenda for centuries – when we want to make radical changes to a legal foundation that was never meant to serve the masses and the vulnerable. And so we are not going to be able to change that by a ballot measure, and we might not be able to change that by force either, not by violence on the streets. "
" What we are going to have to do, with the leadership of Commissioner Hardesty and Mayor Wheeler, is change hearts and minds. And negotiate changes that are in the interest of the public and inherently in the interest of police officers. They must realize that changes need to happen to rebuild trust with the community and heal the relationships with those they serve. The contract at this point is not doing Police any favors. Some of the elements in there, such as not being able to embarrass officers by saying who has been responsible for various things that have been found wrong…that’s not how it works for people who are having their mug shot posted and that’s not how it works for people who are found to have done wrong in the criminal justice system. "
"I am committed to collaborating with my colleagues, and the community and Portland Police Chief Lovell on next steps to improve community safety outcomes, particularly for African Americans, Indigenous people, people of color, the LGBTQ community, people experiencing mental illness and people with disabilities.
I also applaud the peaceful demonstrations providing the momentum to propel action towards police accountability and meaningful, impactful changes concerning the future of policing in Portland."
"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. "
Let's unite against the federal intrusion into Portland's business. Surely most Portlanders can agree on that.