Murmurs: City Funds Deescalation Training

In other news: Attempted murder suspect back in jail.

City Funds Deescalation Training: After a year in which Portland police and protesters regularly clashed, Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office is spending $15,000 on conflict resolution training for…the protesters. The contract, with a nonprofit called the Portland Peace Team, appears to be an effort to lower the temperature at protests by teaching demonstrators to listen to each other and find common ground. The seven online training sessions, each two hours long, focus on “deescalation and peacekeeping for events including protests, marches and rallies.” How well this will go over with protesters who cite police use of force as their reason for marching—and who regularly deride “peace police” for trying to restrain property destruction—is a difficult question to answer: Portland Peace Team doesn’t want reporters discussing what’s said by participants in the trainings. The contractor tells WW that reporters are welcome to attend but they are “asked not to report on the specific conversations or names of the attendees during the training in case anyone shares anything personal about themselves or their experiences, etc. We want to create a safe space for people to discuss conflict.” The mayor’s office deferred to the contractor’s statement.

Attempted Murder Suspect Back in Jail: An Indiana man accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail toward Portland police officers during a protest landed back in the Multnomah County Jail two days after his release. On June 1, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Oregon announced federal charges against 24-year-old Malik Muhammad, who had been released from county jail May 26 after the Portland Freedom Fund posted $212,500—or 10%—of the $2.1 million bail. Since late April, Muhammad had been held in county jail following a 28-count indictment handed down in March that accused him of various crimes during protests including throwing molotov cocktails toward police officers. On May 28, two days after his initial release, deputy district attorney Nathan Vasquez filed a motion arguing that Muhammad is “an incredibly dangerous person” who should remain in custody. “As he has shown time and time again, he will go to extreme lengths to exercise his extreme ideology, up to and including building fire bombs and attempting to murder police officers,” Vasquez wrote. Hours later, Oregon State Police arrested Muhammad and booked him back into county jail—likely in connection to the federal charges. As for the state charges, the DA’s office says it had intended to file its motion before Muhammad was released. “However, bail was posted prior to that motion being filed. Our position has not changed,” says Brent Weisberg, a spokesman for the DA.

Crowd Assaults Man They Believe Is Andy Ngo: People in a May 28 protest crowd in front of the Multnomah County Justice Center chased, tackled and punched someone they believed to be right-wing author Andy Ngo, pursuing him through the streets of Portland until he hid inside The Nines hotel. The enraged group pulled on the hotel’s front doors and shouted, “You wanna kill us? You wanna kill us, Andy?” as The Nines staff frantically tried to hold the entrance closed. When the fleeing man took shelter in the hotel, he appeared to be pleading with staff. “They’re going to kill me,” he said. Already staying at The Nines that night: the Denver Nuggets basketball team, which was in town for a playoff series against the Trail Blazers. Ngo, the nation’s most prominent detractor of Portland’s anti-fascist movement, has not responded to WW’s inquiries whether he was assaulted that night and has released no public statements about the incident.

Lawmakers Make Noose Display a Crime: The Oregon Legislature has passed a bill making it a misdemeanor to display a noose with the intent to intimidate another person. On June 1, the Oregon House passed Senate Bill 398, which now goes to Gov. Kate Brown’s desk for a signature. Lawmakers cited the noose’s racist history as a tool to lynch people of color. “We must truly understand the reality of our nation’s past, and the tools of intimidation used to sow fear and panic in communities of color,” said Rep. Ricki Ruiz (D-Gresham). “A noose is a symbol that has also been used as a threat of violence and triggers a lot of trauma to our BIPOC communities.” The bill’s passage follows several high-profile cases in the past decade of nooses being displayed at Oregon workplaces, including Daimler Trucks and Oregon Health & Science University.

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