MAYOR WILL HAVE SECURITY PROTECTION IN PUBLIC SETTINGS: Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler will now have a security detail with him nearly every time he goes out in public following the Jan. 24 pepper-spraying by the mayor of a lawyer who followed him to his car outside a McMenamins pub. "The mayor has enhanced security measures, and we believe they will be effective in protecting the mayor's safety," said Jim Middaugh, a spokesman for Wheeler. "Given recent events, the mayor will be using that service more frequently and virtually any time he is in a public setting." Middaugh said the city contracts with the private firm G4S Secure Solutions to provide enhanced security, which will also be offered to other Portland elected officials. Wheeler was confronted twice last month by citizens at restaurants. The first incident, at Portland's Cafe Nell, prompted the mayor to carry pepper spray provided to him by a staff member, Middaugh said.
KOTEK AIMS TO DECRIMINALIZE HOMELESSNESS: House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) introduced a bill this week for which she is sole sponsor to address a contentious issue in Oregon and nationally: the criminalization of homelessness. House Bill 3115 would prohibit towns and cities from arresting or citing people for sleeping outside when no alternatives are available. The bill follows litigation in Grants Pass last year over whether that city could cite people for sleeping in city parks. Civil rights lawyers challenged such arrests, and a federal judge agreed with them. The case echoes a high-profile federal ruling in Martin v. City of Boise, which found people could not be punished for sleeping outside unless they were offered sufficient alternative shelter. Kotek's spokesman, Danny Moran, says the bill grew out of extensive consultation with local governments.
HERNANDEZ MISCONDUCT HEARINGS BEGIN: As a legislative inquiry into allegations of harassment commenced, state Rep. Diego Hernandez (D-East Portland) faced an avalanche of criticism this week from longtime allies, including the state's largest public employee unions, the farmworkers' union PCUN, and other groups that represent people of color, such as the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon. The groups responded to a 33-page report based on interviews with five women who complained of harassment. The four days of hearings in front of the House Conduct Committee began Monday night, with Hernandez, who has ascribed the proceedings to a "political vendetta," apologizing but refusing calls by House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) and others for him to resign.
ROSE CITY ANTIFA DISTANCES ITSELF FROM WINDOW SMASHERS: In an email to local media Feb. 1, Rose City Antifa seemed to distance itself from recent protests that have led to vandalism. "Rose City Antifa has not been organizing recent protests, although we stand in solidarity with those who express opposition to current systems of oppression," the Portland anti-fascist group, founded in 2007, wrote. "While many of the people involved may consider themselves anti-fascists in ideology, we narrowly define anti-fascism as actions taken to oppose the insurgent right wing. Under this definition, protests that are not involved in direct opposition to far-right violence and instead combat the state, capitalism, etc., would…be more accurately described as anarchist, anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian, or another term." The anti-fascists' effort to draw such a distinction marks the first time Rose City Antifa has denied responsibility for Portland's civil unrest. It follows several instances since autumn in which Portland protesters destroyed property, most notably at an Inauguration Day rally where dozens tagged and smashed the windows of the Democratic Party of Oregon's headquarters.