We in Portland DSA loudly denounce the punitive curfew instituted by Ted Wheeler and the Portland City Council. Curfews are a form of collective punishment on an entire community. This curfew was intended to rebalance power away from protesters and back to the police. The curfew has given police full permission to attack and arrest literally anyone they come across after 8PM, something they did last night.
We call for a total defunding of the police state in Portland.
We know that curfews are unconstitutional, and completely out of touch with this growing movement against police violence. For members of our city council who have long criticized police, it is disappointing to see them reinforcing the brutal and violent “order” that the Portland Police enforce in our streets. It is disappointing that police critics in our city council would believe that moving Portland even further into a dystopian police state is the proper response to an organic and spontaneous movement that is fed up. But the Portland city council’s inability to cancel rent or provide meaningful assistance to its citizens during a global pandemic only contributed to the unrest in our city. It is clear that our elected leaders are not on the side of our movement. Their choices over the weekend have resulted in more police brutality, more arrests, more injury, and more violence. We denounce the city council and its leaders for making such poor choices in this moment.
We call for a total defunding of the police state in Portland. The police in Portland kill Black people and people in mental health crisis every year. The majority of Portland police do not live in our community and have no qualms about hurting our friends and neighbors should they decide to protest. The Portland police do not care about free speech or justice, and have shown countless times over several years that they will use extreme and brutal measures to control us and suppress our movements. We will have a better, healthier, more vibrant community without the Portland police. We can imagine a world without police at all. Our elected leaders do not have such an imagination.
A total defunding of the police can begin by removing cops from schools, from transit, and the removal of all riot gear and tools and the militarized tactics used. A defunding of police can include not renewing the police union contract and refusing to negotiate a new one. A defunding of the police could start by reducing the force by 75% minimum, so that only local officers are employed. Replace these officers with social workers, and use the remaining funds for all of the social services that we are told are strapped for cash every year and that our city council regularly votes to cut. A defunding of the police could mean healing in our community, an end to unrest, and the funds to fix our broken community.
A defunding of the police could mean healing in our community, an end to unrest, and the funds to fix our broken community.
The protests and riots and property damage seen across the country are the cries of an over-policed community that has had enough. Increased police violence will not solve this problem or satisfy this movement. It is time to reduce the number of armed, violent goons in our streets. It is time for our elected leaders to show they have courage and stand up to them, not default to hiding behind the cops. It is time for Portlanders to start giving a damn about Black lives and not about Louis Vutton or Apple. If we allow the Portland police to continue operating as they operate, we will only see more murders and more state repression. If our Portland elected leaders decide to keep the curfew and empower the police to treat us brutally, then they will only have more blood on their hands.