[pjw] FOLLOW-UP COMMENTS on Mayor's protest ordinance (Agenda item 1173)

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Tue Nov 13 13:38:04 EST 2018

PJW supporters
We sent the below follow-up email to Council and the media earlier this
morning. Feel free to circulate, and to send your own comments to
Council. Several of you have forwarded your comments back to us which is
very helpful.

For those who missed it, Bobbin Singh of the Oregon Justice Resource
Center refused an award from Council yesterday based on the lack of
respect for civil rights shown by this ordinance.


As noted in the email below, it is remotely possible there will be
testimony at Council tomorrow (likely around 10:20 AM) if they offer new

--dan handelman
peace and justice works/portland copwatch

PS Sorry for any duplication with the Copwatch list

-----------------forwarded message-------------------

Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2018 10:16:59 -0800 (PST)
From: Peace and Justice Works <pjw at pjw.info>
To: Portland City Council -- Commissioner Amanda Fritz
 	<amanda at portlandoregon.gov>, Commissioner Chloe Eudaly
 	<chloe at portlandoregon.gov>, Commissioner Dan Saltzman
 	<dan at portlandoregon.gov>, Commissioner Nick Fish
 	<Nick at portlandoregon.gov>, Mayor Ted Wheeler
 	<MayorWheeler at portlandoregon.gov>
cc: Council testimony <cctestimony at portlandoregon.gov>, Portland Copwatch
 	<copwatch at portlandcopwatch.org>
Subject: FOLLOW-UP COMMENTS on Mayor's protest ordinance (Agenda item 1173)

To Mayor Wheeler and members of Council

Peace and Justice Works and Portland Copwatch already sent in testimony
on the previous draft of the protest ordinance. The hearing on Thursday
led us to have even more concerns, which we outline below. We hope
that if any new amendments are offered this week, the Council will
take public testimony focused on those amendments, which is Council
protocol. Here are our thoughts about last week's hearing:

First, the testimony of the Mayor and the City Attorney seemed to
acknowledge that there are constitutional problems with the ordinance.
Many of these problems were noted by the ACLU and National Lawyers
Guild, who conduct legal analyses regularly. Although the Mayor said he
has an interest in making sure the use of this ordinance is
constitutional or else the City will face lawsuits, that money is
taxpayer money and not the Mayor's. The City should not be gambling on a
questionable policy with the attitude "if we got it wrong, sue us."

More time is needed to address the question of policy toward violence
growing from some protests, as indicated by the fact that the Mayor
brought revisions to the table at the opening of Thursday's hearing,
then Council added more amendments on the fly, and Commissioner Eudaly
asked a series of questions which were not answered.

As we noted in our previous comments, most of those questions have to do
with how the police are currently using violence to suppress the
counter-demonstrators while giving those who come to Portland with
firearms and an intent to do harm get away with minor arrests and little
police attention.

Another large concern is that the two organizations invited to testify
in favor of the ordinance-- the Portland Business Alliance and Travel
Portland-- seem more concerned about tourist dollars and Portland's
"brand" than human rights. The constitution guarantees rights to free
speech and assembly, not the right to make money. While the business
interests claimed support for free speech, supporting an ordinance that
would allow the City to dictate the size and location of protests based
on vaguely defined "intelligence" is not appropriate.

It did not escape our attention that these businesses are coming forward
to urge Council action at the outset of the holiday shopping season,
about one year after Columbia Sportswear made an effective threat to
leave town if the Mayor did not crack down on homeless people. The
response was to forbid sitting and lying in front of that business and a
crackdown on houseless people.

Also at the hearing there was contradictory information about whether
having a permit protects a group from being subjected to the whims of
the proposed law. It was stated that it does not apply to permitted
events, but also that the permit would be "taken into consideration" if
the criteria about groups with a "history of violence" are met.

It also was made clear that the concern we raised in our previous
comments regarding the "counter-protestor veto" is even worse than we
thought. It was stated that if a group which claims they want to do
violence attaches itself to the same "side" of a peaceful permitted
protest, that protest could be subject to the draconian restrictions of
the law.

One of the most salient points was the NLG's statement that taking away
our liberties plays into the hands of far-right activists who want to
see the government use heavy tactics to put down protests. This is very
similar to how the federal government responded after 9/11, claiming
that the people who conducted the attacks that day "hate our freedoms"
so they responded by instituting the PATRIOT act, investigating Muslim
Americans, opening Guantanamo, and taking other steps to take away those
very freedoms.

Commissioner-elect Hardesty asked the Council to wait for her to be
seated before you take collective action, allowing more time to craft
policies on how to deal with violence without erasing people's
constitutional rights.

It was also very disturbing to hear a member of the state legislature
suggest that the Council might want to request the State Constitution be
amended to allow crackdowns on protests. Even if Oregon's Constitution
were (inappropriately) changed, it would not take away federal
First Amendment guarantees.

One final note: the introductory paragraphs to the ordinance outlining
the history of protests in the last two years only describes the police
violence on one day-- August 4, 2018, even though they used violence
repeatedly. There is no mention of how protestors were "kettled" and had
their IDs photographed. The paragraph about the discovery of alt-right
protestors with rifles doesn't address the question of whether concealed
handgun permits allow people to carry rifles. But perhaps most offensive
is the repeated use of the term "had to" in describing that police
decided to divert a large number of resources to these protests, call in
officers from other agencies, and shut down traffic. These are all
choices and the phrase "had to" should not be used to bolster arguments
that are tactical decisions.

We once again urge you not to pass this ordinance.

dan handelman and other members of
peace and justice works/portland copwatch
    PO Box 42456
    Portland, OR   97242
    (503) 236-3065
    pjw at pjw.info / copwatch at portlandcopwatch.org
    http://www.pjw.info / http://www.portlandcopwatch.org

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