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Battle Lines Grow

No let down in fight for police reforms

Cervante Pope | 10/18/2016, 4:47 p.m.
“We need politicians who will run outside of City Hall and help the injured get to safety, not ones who ...
Police officers push activists out of Portland City Hall in a violent confrontation captured in a public Youtube video from Oregonlive.com. The protesters were upset about a closed-door City Council session in which a new police union contract was ratified, a labor agreement that the racial justice activists say let police off the hook over demands for more accountability.

“PLEASE TAKE NOTICE. Dear @MayorPDX - we will likely boycott your city if you make this contract official," read King’s tweet. In a separate article, he describes a planned Dec. 5 boycott of Portland and other cities, businesses and institutions “which are either willfully indifferent to police brutality and racial injustice or are deliberately destructive partners with it."

Commissioner Steve Novick, the only vote against the new contract, was understanding of the community uproar. He told the Oregonian the reaction was a response to the mistrust people feel about police. “It’s very unfortunate,” Novick said.

Don’t Shoot PDX and Black Lives Matter will remain stringent in their demands of the city but will continue to advocate without violence, according to McKelvey.

“Our movement will continue to protest against injustice, hold art projects to empower the community, forums to educate the people and a beacon of hope to all those who seek justice in Portland.”

As activists work towards getting both the Mayor and Commissioner Fish out of office early, the promise of Mayor elect Ted Wheeler’s term, which begins in January, may offer some hope.

“I have much more respect for Mayor-elect Wheeler than for Charlie Hales,” McKelvey says, “I think it is important that he notices that the type of violence Hales has inflicted upon peaceful protestors as well as excluding us from policy conversations will not be seen without pushback.”

Wheeler has remained relatively silent during the protests but McKelvey says he has made some attempts to reach out and show support.

“I have confidence that Mr. Wheeler's office will continue to work with myself and our movement,” says McKelvey. “If he does not, we will hold him accountable just like any other politician.”

“We made a mistake on Hales, but I trust we have learned from it and elected a much better mayor. Above all, I think Ted Wheeler has a conscious - something that has been absent from Charlie Hales reaction to the new civil rights movement.”