Alex Zielinski: Wheeler, Ryan Unveil Unfunded Proposal to Criminalize Homelessness (Portland Mercury)
Mayor Wheeler announced a much-anticipated proposal to ban homeless camping in Portland at a Friday press conference. This idea, which has been hinted at in various forms for more than a year, follows a growing drumbeat of vitriol from upset Portland property owners, businesses, and other members of the public about the impact that visible homeless camping has on the community—and its reputation.
“Simply put, we can no longer tolerate the intolerable,” said City Commissioner Dan Ryan, who co-sponsored the proposal outlined by Wheeler on Friday. “It's time to take some risks to get our city out of this ditch.”
Yet, without the needed boost of significant funding, clear support from other government agencies, and interested contractors, the proposal appears little more than a plan to create an eventual plan.
Alex Zielinski: The Myth of "Service Resistant" People Living Outside (
“Calling people ‘service resistant’ helps distance us from responsibility,” says Marc Jolin, director of the county and city's Joint Office of Homeless Services (JOHS). “If someone says they’re not interested in services, it doesn’t mean they want to be homeless. It should make us ask, ‘Are we offering the right services?’”
Aaron Mesh: Mass Shooting Kills 18-Year-Old Woman Near Downtown Portland Food Carts (Willamette Week)
I'm having a hard time coping with this.
A mass shooting in downtown Portland, shortly before last call on Saturday morning, killed an 18-year-old woman and injured six others near a line of food carts in what police described as “an extremely chaotic scene.”
Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said the killing, along with another fatal shooting four hours later in the Parkrose neighborhood, in deep Northeast Portland, marked the city’s 50th and 51st homicides of the year. Portland saw 55 homicides in 2020, a 26-year record but one on pace to be broken by the end of July.
As of July 6, the city had seen 579 shooting incidents in 2021—more than double the number at that time in 2020. For months, city leaders have bitterly debated whether to increase staffing for a police force that saw its budget trimmed amid racial justice protests last year and is dogged by repeated allegations of excessive force.
It occurred three blocks south of Ankeny Alley, the center of an Old Town nightlife district where dance clubs are once again packed to capacity after pandemic shutdowns. That “entertainment district,” which was once fenced off and surrounded by police squad cars on weekend nights, now sees a sparse police presence, despite what club security services describe as a gang war occurring near the queues for their venues.
Asked by WW why police presence in the Old Town entertainment district was scant, Lovell said those officers were reassigned after COVID shutdowns reduced nightlife, and implied that the bureau was still learning that the clubs were again drawing crowds.
Tim Dickinson: I Moved to Portland Because It Seemed Like a Safe Bet in the Face of Climate Change. I Was Naive (Rolling Stone)
A dispatch from under the heat dome that shattered temperature records in the Pacific Northwest
In a city deadened by heat, the only hive of activity I spotted was at the public park that was the epicenter of Portland’s street protests and federal occupation last year. A half-dozen activists sat in folding chairs, camped under a canopy tent that read “Community Jail Support.” They were set up, as usual, to provide what leftists call “mutual aid,” to people exiting jail at the county Justice Center, as well as to a homeless encampment lining the nearby sidewalk. Tables and a shopping cart were stacked with water and Gatorade bottles dropped off by volunteers dedicated to serving these communities.
Portland is not built for this heat. About a third of Portlanders have no air conditioning. That rises to well over half of residents in nearby Seattle. But I’m not sure any place is built for this heat. And that’s the problem. The emerging extremes of climate change are survivable with the right infrastructure. But our legacy infrastructure literally buckles and melts under this new reality.
Jonathan Maus: Post-pandemic traffic is weighing on me (BikePortland)
Could we have been more ambitious with temporary, pop-up road diets and bike lane networks? Did we miss a perfect political moment to fundamentally alter peoples’ perceptions of street potential? Did we fight off one virus, only to allow another — the congestion and catastrophic climate and community-destroying consequences of car abuse — to re-infect us?
Kale Williams: With a heat dome poised to shatter Oregon records, what role does climate change play? (The Oregonian)
"Climate change isn't your grandchildren's problem, it’s yours.”
“There are wide disparities in who is being exposed to the heat,” she said. “For the privileged, it’s an inconvenience. Other individuals don’t have a choice.”
Among those most affected are those who have no readily available shelter, people experiencing homelessness and people who work in agriculture or construction.
Researchers at Portland State University found that areas historically subject to racist housing discrimination policies such as red-lining are home to “urban heat islands” where temperatures can sometimes be as much as 13 degrees hotter than other parts of the city. These areas have historically been denied investments in greenspace and tree cover that act as cooling mechanisms in more affluent parts of Portland.
So, I’ve got a great idea: What might be a better, more accurate, advertisement would be to run a photograph of my favorite public toilet in The New York Times, and alongside it, there can be a commitment by Portland leaders to ensure this is a place where we will not retch at the sight of poverty, where we hold police accountable, where we will not sweep away our most vulnerable people until everyone here has a place to live. What would actually be creative — groundbreaking, even — would be for Portland to see poor people as neighbors, not adversaries. Actual living, breathing humans just like themselves, whose circumstances — not moral failures — led to their situation. Portland needs to make sure everyone has a seat at our table first before we invite the world over to eat.
Alex Zielinski: Unhoused Portlanders File Lawsuit Against City for Discarding Property (Portland Mercury)
Four unhoused Portlanders have filed a class action lawsuit against the City of Portland for discarding private property confiscated during city-sanctioned sweeps of homeless campsites. The lawsuit, filed Monday by local civil rights attorneys Michael Fuller and Juan Chavez, states it "does not seek to change Oregon’s laws on camping site sweeps – only to enforce them."
The lawsuit accuses the city of violating plaintiffs' constitutional rights to property and against unlawful seizure and, by doing so, violating the city's Anderson Agreement. "The City has engaged in a pattern, practice, and custom of depriving individuals subject to their sweeps of houseless encampments of their property and liberty," the lawsuit claims. The suit also accuses the city of "vagueness" in regards to the way it enforces its camping laws, since the city offers unhoused Portlanders "no alternative solution for how to avoid having their property lost or destroyed."
Plaintiffs are not requesting anything from the city, aside from requiring city employees and its contractors adhere to its own policies regarding campsite sweeps. That is, all but one policy: The lawsuit asks the city to not enforce the city's latest protocol for increased sweeps announced last week "until it is no longer ambiguous, arbitrary, and unlawful."
Jonathan Levinson: Police in Oregon are searching cellphones daily and straining civil rights (OPB)
Over the past decade, MDFT use has quickly proliferated across the country. Records obtained by OPB show the Portland Police Bureau adopted the technology as early as October 2014 and has invested at least $270,629.96, outspending significantly larger departments.
By contrast, since 2015, the similarly-sized Seattle police department has spent at least $240,837 on MDFTs. The Houston police department, with five times more officers than PPB, has spent at least $210,255, and the Los Angeles police department spent around $358,426 despite being almost 10 times the size of the Portland police.
Warrants reviewed by OPB going back to 2018 show PPB searching phones to investigate a wide array of crimes ranging from attempted murder, bank fraud and robbery to lower level crimes like bike theft. And for years, the bureau was conducting digital searches with no policies in place regulating the practice.
“People, when faced with authority figures in particular, are very likely to agree to whatever they’re asked to do,” he said. “I don’t think people understand how extracting works ... but on the other hand, I’m not entirely convinced that they wouldn’t consent even if they did just because people consent to all sorts of police invasions of their privacy without a second thought in order to acquiesce to their authority.”
Jonathan Maus: Four people dead in 3 days as Portland car violence continues (Bike Portland)
Joshua Stanley. Karen McClure. Douglas Rosling II.
All three died using Portland roads over the weekend.
Since Jean Gerich was hit and killed in an intentional act of car violence on January 25th, four people have died in what has already been a terrible year for road safety. So far in 2021 our Fatality Tracker shows 11 deaths, that’s nearly twice as many as this time last year and three times the amount in 2019.
The victims are new, but the circumstances are achingly familiar. Unfortunately it feels like Portland continues to lack the urgency and leadership to transform our approach to traffic safety and street management in a way that rises to the crisis in front of us.
I just feel so deflated and frustrated. I’ve written so many op-eds and have heard so many promises about safe streets for so many years. Yet here we are.
To all my friends at City Hall and the Portland Bureau of Transportation who are annoyed with my “bias and negativity” (the exact words used by former PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly who revealed her opinion of my work at the end of her tenure back in December): Where is the positive news here?
You can dismiss me and continue to act like everything you read here are just rantings from a biased blogger. But you cannot ignore the tragic truths our streets continue to tell day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.
Wm. Steven Humphrey: Crying Wolf: If Portland Tourism Dies, You Can Thank Downtown Business Interests and the Police (Portland Mercury)
A tale of two years: In 2019, I received multiple texts from out-of-town relatives and friends begging to visit me in Portland. But then 2020 rolled around, and these are the type of texts I received:
“When are you moving back home? Stay safe!!”
“What is going on in Portland? I hear it’s a battle zone!”
“Riots in Portland? Are you okay? Call me now!”
Portland—once thought of as a whimsical doughnut-land filled with jolly weirdos on bikes—now has an absolutely terrible national reputation that’s less of a Portlandia episode, and more like one of Dante’s various levels of hell.
How did we get here? Well, zooming out, you can largely thank the national media (particularly FOX News) who often parroted willfully misleading police reports from last summer’s protests, and depicted events that were often confined to a few blocks as if the entire city was a war zone.
This spawned a slate of absolutely ludicrous headlines, most recently culminating in a commentary published last week in Forbes, "Death of a City: The Portland Story?" which compared our economic troubles—those shared by every. single. major. city. in. America.—to a fate reminiscent of the lava-buried victims of Pompeii.
So who's behind these wildly exaggerated visions of Portland reflected in the national media? Well, for one, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), who between May 29 and November 15, 2020 declared 30 demonstrations as “riots." Apparently all it takes to declare "a riot" these days is a very small percentage of a crowd throwing plastic water bottles and shaking fences.
Parsing out why the cops (or specifically the police union) want to spread this false narrative is easy: They don't want their budget cut, or to make any substantial changes—especially those connected to systemic racism or brutality. They rely on your continuing fear for their existence.
Jonathan Maus: Police say two of 10 victims in vehicular rampage were on bikes (Bike Portland)
This casual acceptance of vehicular violence and recklessness as a random occurrence we can’t do anything about is unacceptable and must change. I’m afraid more people will die if we don’t.
Our enforcement policies need to be better at flagging high-risk drivers. Our mental and public health services need to find at-risk people and give them more support. Our transportation agencies need to fortify our streets by adding more concrete and protected spaces wherever and whenever possible. Our community needs to call out traffic violence in every form, every time; whether it’s spoken, typed, or acted upon.
I’m afraid of how we’re handling this issue; but I refuse to be afraid of our streets. So many times this past year we saw the power streets have to unite us. “Whose streets? Our streets!” isn’t just a chant, it’s an acknowledgment that we all own a piece of the responsibility to keep them safe.
The Public Art Program promotes transit use and community pride by integrating permanent and temporary art works into the public transit system — celebrating the contributions of public transportation and recognizing the cultural richness in our region.
Simple Sundries does not "recycle" plastic bottles as much as reuse them. All donated plastic bottles get cleaned, refilled with household products and donated to the school food pantries in East County.
Simple Sundries is located at 2214 SE 135th Avenue. Donations can be brought to our Refill Window on Sundays between 10:00-1:00 or can be dropped off on our porch anytime. Just email us and let us know you plan to drop items off. email@example.com
Blair Stenvick: Portland Police Say They're Needed to Prevent Gun Violence. Experts Disagree. (Portland Mercury)
Portland met a dire record last month: With 15 homicides over a 31-day period, July contained the highest number of homicides the city had recorded in a single month for over 30 years. The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) also reported 99 shootings in July—about three times the number of shootings recorded in July 2019.
The jump in shootings and homicides came shortly after Mayor Ted Wheeler disbanded PPB’s Gun Violence Reduction Team (GVRT), a group of officers focused on investigating all instances of gun violence in Portland. The unit had faced scrutiny from Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and other police reform advocates for years for disproportionately pulling over Black drivers and keeping a list of suspected “criminal gang affiliates” that allowed police to surveil young men of color. Wheeler, who also serves as Portland’s police commissioner, decided to disband the unit in June, amid ongoing mass protests against police brutality and racial injustice in Portland.
Mark Leymon, an associate professor of criminology and criminal justice at Portland State University (PSU), told the Mercury that there’s “absolutely no evidence” that the recent disbanding of GVRT contributed to July’s numbers. When asked what the likely cause was, Leymon cautioned it’s “too early to tell” whether July’s numbers qualify as a sustained spike in violent crime.But, he said, “The single most predictive measure of criminal activity is the economy.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused record unemployment numbers in Oregon—and as Brian Renauer, the director of PSU’s Criminal Justice Policy Research Institute, pointed out, economic anxiety was “already there” for Portlanders who never recovered from the 2008 Great Recession.
“It was already impacting certain areas and geographies of the city for a number of years,” Renauer said. “There are places and families that have never recovered from a prior economic crisis.”
Heaped on top of economic anxiety is the stress and trauma caused by simply living through an unprecedented pandemic, Leymon said. Leymon used an analogy of a glass of water, explaining that each person has “an emotional glass that can handle a certain amount of emotion.” Many people’s glass is already nearly full because of the pandemic, meaning it doesn’t take much for them to tip over and resort to violence.
“Our emotional stress glass has water in it up to a certain base, so it’s very easy to spill over,” he said. “The spillover is when criminal activity happens… People are more likely to snap or make poor decisions when they’re stressed.”
In addition to citing the dissolution of the GVRT, PPB officials have blamed the protests against police brutality as contributing to the spike in shootings. At a recent press conference, Lovell called the protests a “drain on resources” that kept police from focusing on crime prevention and response.
Leymon calls that reasoning “disingenuous.”
“They like to say that every day—that police are out there preventing crime,” he said. “But police don’t prevent crime, especially in Portland. Portland’s policing system is a responsive system…They’re not really doing any proactive work, they’re just there in the neighborhood. The most they can do is be a deterrent, and deterrents just aren’t very effective.”
However, Leymon said there may be an indirect link between protests and an increase in violent crime.
“You could argue that the current protests are societal stress, so that increases criminal activity,” he said. “There’s probably some truth to that. But... people of color and other marginalized communities have been feeling that stress for [hundreds of years]. It isn’t like the stress those people feel hasn’t been existing prior to the protests. It’s just, suddenly, a bunch of white people have noticed.”
Alex Zielinski: Wheeler Responds to Police Inaction During Saturday Brawl (Portland Mercury)
On Saturday night, a member of the public (who asked the Mercury to remain anonymous) sent an email to Wheeler, sharing their concerns about PPB's response to the daytime protest. The person wrote that officers' inaction was particularly upsetting to see when contrasted with PPB's routinely aggressive response to nightly demonstrations against police brutality.
An hour later, Wheeler responded.
"For days you’ve been telling me that PPB's response has been overbearing. So last night and tonight they tried something different, and you’re demanding more of a police presence? Do you see how there is a no-win situation here? What, specifically, would you expect them to do? Have 30 officers charge into a crowd of 300 people, many of them armed? Would you do that? Would you ask other people to do that? I’m not shading you, these are serious questions. What specifically would you do? I am honestly interested."
Staff have confirmed this email was sent by Wheeler. While the message was not meant to be a formal public statement, Wheeler's quick reaction offers a different story—one of frustration and genuine exhaustion surrounding the public's demands.
Boise Eliot Native Grove is transforming an unimproved right-of-way (full of invasive grasses, often used as a dumping ground) into a grove of native trees, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses, with native bee housing, paths, art, benches, and educational signage. The Grove is being created to support populations of native pollinators, insects, and birds, in partnership with local schools, businesses and community environmental organizations.
Rebecca Ellis: Portland’s protests: 3 months in, no end in sight (OPB)
Mayor Ted Wheeler says the city is "considering all options” to end nightly clashes between police, protesters, but he lacks a clear plan.
The worst nights follow the same script: A large group takes to the streets calling for an end to police violence and systemic racism. A small fraction commits low-level crimes — often lighting small fires, graffiti-ing buildings and throwing fireworks or water bottles at officers. The police respond with force against the entire crowd.
Over the last month, demonstrators have been battered with batons as they left protests. Police have charged at crowds until they’re pushed deep into residential neighborhoods. Journalists have been shoved and arrested. Tear gas, while used more sparingly than in the early days of the protests, is threatened near nightly. And police regularly shut down protests by declaring them riots. That happened twice over the weekend, though police declined to intervene as far-right activists, some brandishing firearms, brawled with counter-protesters for hours on Saturday afternoon.
“They’ve tried everything from not showing up to preemptively dispersing crowds, and some of those strategies, in my opinion, have worked well. Others have not worked well,” he said. “My expectation is the police bureau will evolve, and as they see a need for change, they’ll change.”
There are serious questions, however, over whether the city’s police oversight agency, which many including the mayor have called toothless, will be able to sort through the mounting reports of police violence. The office has been flooded by complaints since protests began. The director says they’ve received more than a year’s worth of new work.
Meanwhile, Hardesty has proposed an entirely new accountability system, which voters will weigh in on in November. If passed, the ballot measure would scrap the review agency completely and create a system with more independence and new powers.
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Ryan Haas, Sergio Olmos, Bradley W. Parks: Protesters fight using pepper spray, baseball bats in Portland on Saturday (OPB)
Protesters at Portland rallies to support police and show support for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign engaged in physical combat repeatedly with counterprotesters Saturday without police intervention. Members of the chaotic crowd used an array of weapons, including baseball bats and firearms to beat and threaten those they opposed.
Police said they did not declare a riot because they didn’t have the resources to handle one. After pro-Trump demonstrators left and counterprotesters returned to Terry Schrunk Plaza, federal officials declared an unlawful assembly.
Suzette Smith: Portland Police Stand By As Armed Alt-Right Protesters and Antifascists Brawl (Portland Mercury)
In years past, alt-right protest events involving out-of-towners generally saw a line of Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers standing between alt-right protesters and counter-protesters. But although the PPB used their LRAD loudspeaker system to make a handful of announcements to the groups—advising them that "everyone has the right to engage in the expression of first amendment rights" and that "officers [had] observed projectiles being thrown and people in possession of firearms"—they never intervened. In fact, there was no noticeable, physical police presence until around 2:15 pm when (as the groups pushed south on SW 3rd) federal officers filled the entryway of the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building. Those officers did not engage until the counter-protesters returned.
For most of the two and a half hour Hate, the No Marxism protesters chanted "U-S-A!," and the counter-protesters chanted "Stolen Land!" Participants on either side lobbed open juice containers, fireworks, rocks, and smoke bombs.
Both groups employed paint guns, and there were pellets whizzing past my ears from either side. Proud Boys member Alan Swinney stood behind a wall of alt-right protesters holding homemade shields and popped off paint rounds at the counter-protest crowd. A counter-protester grabbed my arm and tried to haul me from the area unsuccessfully. When I turned back to the alt-right line, I was about ten feet from Swinney casually pointing a handgun at me and the crowd around me.
As the counter-protesters returned to Terry Shrunk Plaza, the PPB broadcast from a patrol car that the gathering had been declared an unlawful assembly. This was the first announcement from PPB to actually declare an unlawful assembly, which seemed hypocritical—if not surprising—given the level of violence seen that afternoon, in comparison with protests where officers declared riots over thrown water bottles.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) federal police escorted some remaining right-wing attendees out of the crowd before they formed a line and pushed the counter-protesters onto SW Madison and into Chapman Square. They then fired pepper bullets into the crowd to cover their retreat into the Wyatt Building.
In a press release about the demonstrations, PPB explained their lack of engagement in the violent brawls this way:
"Incident commanders have to weigh out the entire situation to determine if police action is likely to make things safer or notIn this case there were hundreds of individuals and many weapons within the groups and an extremely limited amount of police resources actually available to address such a crowd. Additionally, PPB members have been the focus of over 80 days of violent actions directed at the police, which is a major consideration for determining if police resources are necessary to interject between two groups with individuals who appear to be willingly engaging in physical confrontations for short durations."
Yet, these restrictions didn't seem to limit PPB's ability to aggressively engage in anti-racist protests later Saturday night, using physical force to arrest and beat marching demonstrators. The only difference: There were no far-right protesters in attendance.
The Mercury reached out to Mayor Ted Wheeler's office for comment on PPB's relative inaction Saturday, but Wheeler—who also serves as the city police commissioner has yet to respond. The Mercury has also not received answers to questions posed to Portland's three sitting city commissioners about Saturday's police tactics.
Karina Brown: Black People Nearly Twice as Likely as Whites to Be Arrested at Portland Protests (Courthouse News)
State and local police in Portland have arrested over 550 protesters since mass protests began in Portland on May 29, sparked by outrage over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Black people make up 11% of those arrested — almost double the rate of Portland’s Black population.
“It is highly unlikely that a disparity this high is a result of composition of the protestors or criminal activity,” Dr. Mark Leymon, professor of criminology at Portland State University, said in an interview. “Research shows that people of color are not more likely to commit crime, especially in this context.”
Black people are 4.4 times more likely to be arrested in Multnomah County than white people, according to a 2014 study, and 4.1 times more likely to have their charges prosecuted by the district attorney.
The Oregon Criminal Justice Commission found in January that Portland police are twice as likely to search Black pedestrians and Black drivers during traffic stops than their white counterparts.
And arrest numbers are just the first step in a series of racially biased procedures that end up with Black people being six times more likely than white people to go to prison in Multnomah County.
“Everyone in the criminal justice system likes to point the finger at someone else for racial disparities,” Leymon said. “Cops say ‘We’re just arresting people who break the law.’ District attorneys say ‘We’re just prosecuting the cases you bring us.’ And judges say ‘We’re just sentencing the people you prosecute. But if you’re Black, every step through the criminal justice system increases your likelihood of going to prison.”
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who is also the city’s police commissioner, refused multiple requests to comment on the racial disparity in arrests at protests calling for an end to that very problem.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell have increasingly joined Trump in claiming the nightly protests are the work of a small group of white people bent on violence and destruction — and that they are no longer part of a movement against systemic racism.
“Enough is enough,” Lovell told reporters Aug. 5. “This is not forwarding the goals” of a movement against racism.
“If this isn’t about racial injustice issues, why are so many people being arrested who are Black?” Leymon asked.
In the coming days and weeks PBOT plans to place signs and barricades at 100 locations citywide. Before we embark on this exciting traffic calming and open streets experiment, I want to share a few thoughts about what we can do to make sure it’s a success.
People who are discriminated against and who don’t have built-in social or economic privileges and who are struggling under the weight of a system that has always been tilted against them should have their needs and concerns elevated first and foremost. Leaders need to be clear about what that means and how it will influence plans and actions.
PBOT needs to clarify who they’ve talked to in deciding how and where to make these changes.
Everyone at PBOT and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly’s office needs to erase “close” from their vocabulary for the next few weeks. There are myriad ways to talk about this effort without using that word and setting people off who are afraid something is being taken away from them. Portland isn’t closing anything, we are simply reducing access for drivers and creating more space for all other road users. The streets are open to drivers who live on them, US Mail trucks, first-responders, and so on.
Because the initial batch of these temporary diverters are only going on streets in the existing neighborhood greenway network, people that live in places without them are mad. Most notably, there are no greenways in southwest Portland or in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood in southeast. It’s also clear that with only 100 locations announced, there’s no way to cover all the places that need traffic calming.
PBOT needs to make it clear that they’re aware of these gaps and share a method for closing them. They should be transparent with the criteria they’re using to choose locations and let the public know how to influence them and suggest more locations.
It’s time to tap into that asset and recruit neighborhood residents to become greenway superheroes who are trained and accountable for making sure barricades are where they should be.
The barricades and signs won’t work if they’re too far off to the side. It will be tempting for PBOT to place them in the shoulder and shadow of parked cars or too close to corners. That would be a big mistake. If people ignore these diverters, it will endanger street users and it will open PBOT up to criticism that the program isn’t working.
Let’s learn from Bend. They initially placed signage too far off the side. Advocates spoke up and got them to re-orient them into the middle of the roadway. Essential drivers and other road users can still go around them, but they have to slow down and take account.
As much as the coronavirus scares me, the long-term implications for transportation frighten me more.
A survey by Transit App, shows that in the US the flight from public transit has been disproportionately white, male, and affluent. Of those left riding transit 92% are essential workers, 70% make less than $50,000 per year, and 85% do not have a car at home and do not have access to one.
While transit agencies make painful cuts and struggle with infection control, automakers are likely hard at work developing ad campaigns that cling onto some peoples’ feeling that cars are the safest way to travel. According to a recent survey by Cars.com, 20% of people searching for a car said they don’t own one and had been using public transit or ride hailing.
To combat the marketing onslaught, people will need good and safe options. TriMet will need to invest heavily and publicly in infection control like accelerating installation of protective barriers for drivers, reprogramming rear doors to open for boarding, and eliminating fare inspections. New strategies like temperature checks or voluntary location tracing apps to aid contact tracers might become necessary to prevent a new surge of cases as some industries head back to work this summer.
Tiara Darnell: Can White Portland's Fragility Handle a Megaquake? (PDX Monthly)
Nope. But here we are anyway.
Collectively, your “allyship” of convenience hasn’t served Black America. Even if you see yourself apart from them, you are cut from the same cloth as Amy Cooper, Tom Cotton, and the folks who stand on the 1st amendment to provide platforms for their voices without thinking through the consequences of your actions. Your silence because you’re afraid of what your family, colleagues, or regular group of brunch friends will say is your complicity. Your quiet, gullible optimism that if you work to “fix” racism then the discomfort you feel in being confronted about it will go away is your tacit consent to targets put on Black lives everywhere.
Acknowledge it away—your white privilege—but it will always be a tool you can employ at will as a weapon against Black people or a tool to shield your own transgressions. Defund the police? Yes and defund and disinvest in yourselves. Liberal, conservative—whatever. You are superspreaders of a sickening power none of us can wholly break free from.
Your greatest challenge as individuals is, and in perpetuity will be, to hold yourself accountable and to teach your children to do the same. Your everyday actions and inactions are threads in the larger narrative playing out right now in cities and towns here and around the world.
Whether you’re a white Portlander or a white person anywhere else (yes, even those of you with Black partners, children, or other family members), start on the most granular level. To borrow a term from the lexicon of pandemic, be your own contact tracer: investigate how your inner thoughts and your past and present interactions with the Black people you encounter in your everyday life upholds the values of white supremacy and the white dominant status quo.
Blair Stenvick: One Year After Titi Gulley’s Death, Her Family Is Left With the Same Questions (Portland Mercury)
The bodies of other Black people have been found hanging in trees in the last month in California, New York, and Texas. In those cases, police have also declared the cases to be suicides. But the deceased’s family members tend to disagree, noting that the image of a Black person hanging from a tree has a specific context rooted in the United State’s history of racist lynchings. Gulley’s story is often mentioned alongside the more recent incidents, prompting people to reach out to Robinson.
“Since George Floyd died, a lot of people have been hitting me up,” Robinson said. “Trying to ask questions and giving me information… It’s just been one person after another.
That renewed attention in Gulley’s case has also resulted in a new wave of donations to a GoFundMe Robinson initially set up to cover her child’s funeral costs last year. Robinson said she now plans to use those funds to establish a cash reward for relevant information about Gulley’s death, and to place a billboard on Southeast 82nd Ave—one of the last places Gulley was seen alive—asking for information.
“I think the best way to get help with what’s going on—because I can’t get help from the police department—is to just start raising money,” she said.
Alex Zielinski: Hall Monitor: Fair Weather Wheeler (Portland Mercury)
Now that the federal police have retreated from the front lines of Portland’s nightly demonstrations, Mayor Ted Wheeler has returned to demonizing those protesting police brutality.
"This is not advocacy to reform or transform any system," said Wheeler, speaking at a Thursday news conference, where he condemned the previous night’s protest outside the Portland Police Bureau's (PPB) East Precinct, claiming that the demonstrations are no longer about racial justice and police accountability.
“The conversation we are having right now is keeping us from the important work of racial justice, equity and comprehensive and thoughtful reform,” Wheeler said about the protests.
Yet it was just two weeks ago that Wheeler stood among the same group of protesters, inhaling plumes of tear gas and decrying the actions of federal police outside the city’s federal courthouse. It appears that defending his citizens from police brutality is only a priority when it’s not his own police force swinging batons at nonviolent protesters.
When camouflaged federal officers shot tear gas and impact munitions at Portlanders, Wheeler quickly severed PPB’s ties with federal law enforcement agencies and went on national TV shows to decry the feds’ “unconstitutional” tactics, and applaud his city’s uprising against police violence.
But now that the nation’s attention has shifted away from Portland, Wheeler’s back to trusting law enforcement’s incendiary narrative about these demonstrations without considering the experiences of protesters and observers on the ground.
Wheeler instead used his platform Thursday to elevate the voices of police officers, city staff who believe their exhaustion from working months of protests is a bigger concern than the public’s right to oppose their years of disproportionate abuse against people of color.
“We’re protesting to defund the police and invest in the community,” said Hester, whose voice is raspy from leading nightly protest chants. “And we haven’t seen that yet. It’s pretty simple, this isn’t over until we achieve that.”
Wheeler mentioned Trump’s campaign tactics Thursday, but he didn’t mention another re-election campaign headed to the November ballot: His own. Like Trump, Wheeler is using these protests as a way to gain political points, not an opportunity to question if the reforms he’s comfortable with are what
Portlanders are actually asking for.
Each morning, Wheeler receives a briefing from PPB leadership about the previous nights’ protests, which inform his understanding of a movement meant to dismantle the police force. He’d do well to start giving the same type of attention to the people calling for change.