The disparate manner in which the Portland Police Bureau has treated protesters and counterprotesters—this weekend's events being only the latest example—is deeply concerning to me. If the service at PBOT's permit counter were dependent upon one's political ideology, we would not hesitate to name that discrimination. While I'm aware of the rationale, and I acknowledge it was a heightened and dangerous situation, that does not absolve them of their duty.
This weekend in Portland, various members of a known hate group sprayed bear mace, fired paintball guns, carried rifles, and even pointed a pistol at a crowd of counterprotesters while the Portland Police Bureau stood by. National media noted a "striking contrast" between their lax approach with white nationalists and the frequent declarations of riots and unlawful assemblies at recent Black Lives Matter protests.
This weekend, we were also confronted with the news of yet another police shooting of a Black man. #JacobBlake was shot in the back by Kenosha, Wisconsin police on Sunday while returning to his car, where his three children awaited him, after attempting to break up a fight. Racism never rests.
I agree with my colleague Commissioner Hardesty—Portlanders deserve to exercise their constitutional rights without being attacked by white nationalists or facing indiscriminate and excessive force from our police. And I also appreciate Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal's thoughtful statement—we must speak up against violence in all of its forms. However, police violence has been a long-standing tradition in Portland. It is disproportionate and is wholly different from the destructive behavior we've witnessed from a relatively small number of protesters. We have a responsibility as elected officials to not just speak out, but to make change happen.
It's time to transform our entire justice system. The work is underway in our city, across our region, and at the state level. I am currently working with community leaders and advocates and other elected representatives on responses to both police protest actions and reenvisioning our justice system, starting with public safety and policing. This work will take time to get right; in the meantime, we need you—the community—to hold us accountable and to keep demanding justice. I'm committed to the work of dismantling systems of white privilege and supremacy and creating a safe and just city for all Portlanders.