PUAH City Council Testimony – STOP COP RIOTS
Mayor and Commissioners,
My name is Rabbi Debra Kolodny. I am today here as Executive Director of Portland United Against Hate, co-author of the Stop Cop Riots letter and as clergy.
In our final letter demanding an end to police violence during demonstrations, the community submitted 66 organizational signers and 92 clergy signers as well as another 1300 individuals.
I broke down these numbers because I want to make clear that while a few clergy share the good protestor/bad protestor narrative and are standing with police, the vast majority of us do not. Dozens of clergy are on the ground weekly or nightly, personally witnessing law enforcement atrocities, clear that both PPB and the Feds have been using force without provocation and are doing heinous harm to this city.
Some hoped that with the Feds gone the violence would subside, and last Thursday PPB was absent and there was no violence. But PPB could not help itself. A participant in the peaceful demonstration on Saturday night input the following into the ReportHatePDX data base:
“This was an incident of PPB “crowd control” on 47th & Burnside on Aug 1 at around 10pm. Riot cops ran into the crowd and began indiscriminately beating protesters and screaming that they would hurt us if we didn’t disperse/move faster. They pushed us outside of our protective barricade where an uninvolved/pissed off driver drove into the crowd at a high speed and tried to run protesters over. We all jumped out of the way in time but it was terrifying. The police chased protesters through neighborhood streets for 10 blocks and beat people, maced people, shot something, stole bikes, slashed car tires and windows of vehicles the protesters had placed as a barricade, and maced two members of the press even after they identified themselves. The worst thing I saw was a medic being assaulted and his cart of medical supplies and water was stolen.”
I hope you agree this is horrifying.
Your city has asked you, Mayor Wheeler to reign in police violence by following your own auditor’s findings, judicial rulings, science and normative best policing practices. Our demands are based on researched fact regarding de-escalation and crowd safety. They are neither pie in the sky nor difficult to implement.
We are dismayed that you have not yet responded. Every night more residents of Portland are injured in the streets and many are suffering in their homes from the use of tear gas. Did you know that tear gas is an abortifacient and that area NICUs have been overwhelmed with premature births?
Because of media coverage from outlets like Time Magazine, the world knows that PPB is engaging in unethical, immoral, unnecessary violence and is causing great injury. This week PUAH will publish our “Police Violence is Hate Violence” report, and you can expect that media coverage to continue.
Police Commissioner Wheeler, what will it take for you to end this siege? How can you continue to let those you represent be trampled both Constitutionally and physically?
We implore you to act now and we would be happy to consult with you about this.