Portland considers civilian oversight, defunding of police amid endless violent demonstrations

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In spite of the fact that the city has been rocked for weeks by non-stop protests and violence that has left portions of its downtown looking like a war zone, Democrats in Portland, Oregon, are the latest to consider ‘police reforms’ that could include defunding and the addition of a civilian ‘oversight board.’

City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty has come out in support of a ballot measure to replace Portland’s police oversight authority with a supposedly ‘independent’ “Community Police Oversight Board,” according to OregonLive.

There is already an independent police review agency that is part of the City Auditor’s Office, which operates separately from the Portland Police Bureau. But Hardesty is supportive of a plan that would give a new board power to investigate complaints, recommend new police policies, and impose discipline on officers.

“We need to absolutely blow up the system we have and create one that’s responsive to the community,” she told OregonLive.

Paul Snell, a research professor of government and politics at local Pacific University, has come up with a proposal that would see a nine-member board of police commissioners take on the new oversight role, taking in the auditor’s current review agency. In addition, the new board would manage an inspector general’s office, OregonLive.

Under his plan, Snell compared the chief of police to a CEO and commissioners to a board of directors. Currently, the report says, similar systems have already been adopted in Oakland, Honolulu, and Los Angeles.

In addition, Portland City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero has proposed that the current oversight board within her office be given new powers and adopt increased transparency instead of dismantling it altogether or having it absorbed into a new entity.

At present, that oversight board is investigating a number of complaints against police, most tied to recent turmoil and unrest in the city following the death of George Floyd in May.

To that point, city police and federal authorities have practically been under siege for weeks as protests that began after the Floyd incident appear to have morphed into general anarchy at times.

Last week, Portland police were forced to declare a “riot” on two consecutive nights after demonstrators ramped up violent attacks on authorities that included the use of commercial-grade fireworks and lasers.

“Police in Portland, Ore., declared a riot around 11 p.m. local time … as Independence Day marked the 38th consecutive day of civil unrest in the city,” Fox News reported.

Scores of rioters gathered near the Multnomah County Justice Center around 1 a.m. July 5, painting graffiti, starting fires, and attacking police.

Authorities arrested or otherwise detained 21 people after they threw large fireworks and “mortars” at a federal courthouse, The Associated Press added, noting that several officers were injured by explosives.

The door to the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse downtown was destroyed as demonstrators tussled with federal officers inside, OregonLive reported. Fireworks went off near the door and even inside the courthouse, the July 6 report stated.

A deputy U.S. Marshal was injured during the melee and the attacks “compromised the security integrity of the Federal Courthouse,” David Miller, a senior special agent of the Federal Protective Service, said.

“This is the second time in a day a riot was declared in Downtown Portland due to the activities of many that put other’s lives at risk; this is unacceptable,” Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said.

“Our officers are tired, but they are resilient. They will continue to be available every night to protect our community members as they swore an oath to do. I hope community members can support these hard-working individuals and denounce the violence that has been placed upon them by those who wish to riot,” he said.

“Our community deserves better than nightly criminal activity that destroys the value and fabric of our community.”



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