Still have questions about Portland police tactics during the June 4 protester standoff? So does Mayor Ted Wheeler.
Wheeler today sent a letter to Portland Police Chief Mike Marshman that asks five detailed questions about the methods police used to drive left-wing protesters from Chapman Square and detain them in downtown streets.
Wheeler's questions cover much of the same ground as a June 6 WW story that summarized a persistent complaint from the Sunday protests: that Portland police cracked down too aggressively on local antifascists and anarchists.
The mayor's letter is especially interesting because its asks the bureau to defend not only its June 4 actions but explain its guiding policy on how it responds to political protests. Wheeler asks why police arrive at rallies in riot gear, and what grounds the bureau uses for deploying crowd-control weapons like stun grenades and rubber bullets. (Both were used on June 4.)
"I have heard from people who claim they were protesting peacefully and following instructions, but nevertheless were affected by the use of crowd control devices," the mayor writes. "What steps are taken to minimize the use of crowd control devices? What steps are taken to attempt to ensure that when they are used those protesting peacefully and following instructions are not affected?"
The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon has said police overreacted to a few protesters reportedly throwing bricks and red-dyed tampons at officers. "To our knowledge, no other police force in America uses crowd control weapons with the regularity of the Portland Police Bureau," the ACLU wrote last week.
In response to those complaints, Wheeler's office told WW last week that it would send Marshman a detailed list of questions about police policy.
This morning, the city's Independent Police Review announced it would investigate police tactics at the June 4 protests.
Here are the questions Wheeler asked today:
1. The law enforcement response to the June 4 events necessitated coordination between the Portland Police Bureau and Homeland Security. There have been questions raised as to why Homeland Security agents received assistance from a person or persons providing security for the rally in Terry Schrunk Plaza. Does the Portland Police Bureau have a policy pertaining to citizen involvement in making arrests? To what extent, if any, does the Portland Police Bureau coordinate with event organizers on security arrangements?
2. One point of comparison often drawn between Portland Police Bureau and the police departments of other cities is Portland Police Bureau's use of officers in so-called "riot gear" during protests. On June 4, what factors were considered to determine when officers will wear additional protection and when those officers will appear on scene? How do you evaluate the use of officers in protective gear versus, for example, bicycle officers?
3. Portland Police Bureau made the determination that counter-protesters in Chapman Park should move north, away from Terry Schrunk Plaza. Subsequently, Chapman Park was closed and crowd control devices were deployed. What were the circumstances that led to the deployment of crowd control devices? What steps were taken to communicate with people in and around the area prior to deploying crowd control devices?
4. I have heard from people who claim they were protesting peacefully and following instructions, but nevertheless were affected by the use of crowd control devices. What steps are taken to attempt to ensure that when they are used those protesting peacefully and following instructions are not affected?
5. Portland Police Bureau detained a group at 4th and Morrison. Those present were asked to produce identification, and their identification was photographed prior to being released. What circumstances led to the decision to detain the group? What will the Portland Police Bureau do with the photographic evidence collected?