Police Budget Gets Scrutiny: Prominent African American leaders in Portland are seeking to disband the Portland Police Bureau's Gun Violence Reduction Team, saying it disproportionately targets black people. City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty suggested May 2 that the city could disband the team, formerly the Gang Enforcement Team, in favor of sending 28 officers back to patrol duty. Her proposal already has some community support. "I think it's past time for it to happen," Urban League of Portland president Nkenge Harmon Johnson told Oregon Public Broadcasting on May 3. "[The gang enforcement team] was neither making us safer nor was it taking many guns off the street. What it served to do is harass African Americans." The criticism could make it harder for Mayor Ted Wheeler to pass his budget without debate. The mayor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Cider Riot Sues Patriot Prayer: A Portland cider-maker sued six members of the right-wing protest group Patriot Prayer after violence broke out outside his pub May 1. The $1 million lawsuit, filed pro bono by Oregon Justice Resource Center on behalf of Cider Riot owner Abram Goldman-Armstrong, alleges negligence, trespass, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and interfering with economic relations. Six are named in the suit: Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson and five of his followers. The lawsuit alleges Ian Kramer struck a woman in the back of her head with a baton hard enough to crack her spine and knock her unconscious. Goldman-Armstrong is not waiting for law enforcement to make arrests. Portland police eventually responded to the chaotic scene, but only after much of the violence had ebbed. "It was not an appropriate response," Goldman-Armstrong said at a press conference May 7.
Hunter Dumped: Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Ginny Burdick (D-Portland) has responded to withering criticism of Gov. Kate Brown's nomination of trophy hunter James Nash to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission by declining to bring Nash's name forward for consideration at a May 8 hearing. Nash was one of five Brown nominees to the board, which is currently considering a contentious wolf management plan. Wildlife conservation groups panned three of the nominees but were particularly unhappy about Nash, who posted social media photos of his exotic game kills, including a hippo, zebra and giant crocodile ("Wolf in Sheep's Clothing," WW, April 24, 2019). Burdick's spokesman declined to comment, but Steve Pedery, conversation director for Oregon Wild, praised the move—faintly. "Congratulations to Sen. Burdick for taking a terrible slate of candidates and removing the worst one," Pedery says.
Open Cannabis Project Folds: Intense backlash followed a Portland ag-science lab's announcement it would launch a breeding program to produce better strains of cannabis. In the wake of outrage from growers and other cannabis entrepreneurs, a Portland nonprofit decided to shutter at the end of May, citing its ties to Phylos Bioscience and the lab's co-founder and CEO, Mowgli Holmes. The Open Cannabis Project, which worked to combat patent trolls, will cease its work by the end of the month. "Dr. Holmes' presentation to investors confirms many of the fears the community has had about Phylos' intentions for years," says the nonprofit's executive director, Beth Schechter. "We also feel we have been deceived."