[Salem, Oregon] – The League of Women Voters of Oregon (LWVOR) calls for civil discourse amid Portland’s ongoing protests. We reaffirm Americans’ First Amendment right to peaceful protest. Our 100 year-old League defends every American’s constitutional rights for racial justice, voting rights, and equal opportunity.
Courthouses should be havens of justice and safety for all but attention to structural vandalism is obscuring racial justice efforts. Pandemic defense and recovery funds fall short while federal spending to “dominate” frightens citizens. This unconstitutional approach is failing as more citizens become enraged. The federal help we desperately need is clear response to the protest issues: centuries of racial injustice, discrimination, and continued racial inequality. Governments at all levels need to promote economic opportunity, improve voting rights for all, combat police brutality, and honor our constitutional rights to free speech and to “peaceably assemble and petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
“Unrequested federal intervention is obstructing legitimate public demands. The Portland protesters are mostly peaceful, from all backgrounds, ages, and professions. Our Leagues, LWVUS, LWVPDX, and LWVOR, call for racial justice and police reform. Unconstitutional and criminal actions must stop.” — Becky Gladstone, President, LWVOR
We support Oregon’s police reform bill passed in June: HB 4208 To proclaim Black Lives Matter, review current and historic police experiences; prohibit tear gas except during riots, require adequate announcements and warnings.NEW: We will testify to Oregon’s new Joint Committee on Transparent Policing and Use of Force Reform for these “legislative concepts” directly relevant today:
- LC 742 Regulate “chemical incapacitants, kinetic impact projectiles, and sound devices; define riot conditions”. Think of tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and sound bombs.
- LC 743 Establish police ID and visible identification requirements (show ID on request), define police uniform and vehicle marking requirements.
- LC 744 Officers are required to intervene and report misconduct by another officer.
- LC 745 Restrict “choke holds”; amendments are being discussed to ban them.
- LC 746 Establish state-wide policing standards. If an arbitrator finds misconduct, discipline cannot be overturned and discipline matrix/guidelines will not be part of collective bargaining.
- LC 748 (not yet publicly posted) Police who relocate to avoid discipline will be tracked in a state-wide police database being established. Those hiring police must consult previous employers.
“The overwhelming majority of our protesters are peaceful. Most of our police are conscientious individuals trying to do a good job. We now need to get together as human beings and work out practical policies to reduce racism and unnecessary use of force.” – Barbara Ross, LWVOR Public Safety Advocate.
See the LWVUS response to Portland protests and in Portland, LWVPDX Demands Equal Rights for All and is studying police accountability and reform. The League continues to monitor and advocate at local, state and national levels.