Many members of our community here in Portland are grieving through the local and national tragedies of police killings that have recently occurred, all while watching the final days and verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin.
During such an emotional week for our City and Nation, I believe Mayor Wheeler’s comments during a press conference last Friday escalated community tensions and were inappropriate in their potential implications and interpretations.
Last summer’s mass protests called for a transformation of our systems of community safety and criminal justice. This moment in history is not calling for increased punitive action, higher bail, a citywide atmosphere of suspicion, using words that could be interpreted as calls for vigilantism, or calling for a reversal of our sacred civil right that people are innocent until proven guilty.
We join prominent civil rights organizations such as the Oregon ACLU in denouncing these comments.
All City Commissioners have repeatedly denounced the property destruction and vandalism that small groups have committed in our City. It’s the responsibility of PPB to develop and execute a strategy that includes making targeted arrests and gathering adequate evidence, so these cases can be successfully prosecuted by the District Attorney.
The Mayor must promote healing. Healing starts with accountability. To lower community tensions, Portland deserves accountability for the PPB officers that engaged in misconduct during the large Black Lives Matter protests we witnessed in Portland last summer.
Mayor Wheeler has the most diverse City Council in history around him and we need the Mayor to work collaboratively with us around rethinking community safety going forward. We need this to be a collaborative process that draws from the unique perspectives each member of council brings to that conversation. Ultimately, there must be a robust process for change led by the communities most negatively impacted by systemic racism in policing and our criminal justice system.