This Week in the Mercury


Monday, February 6, 2012

Proactive Cops Worry About "Tone" of Anti-Police-Brutality March

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Mon, Feb 6, 2012 at 3:59 PM

Portland police, in a proactive messaging play, are sounding an early alarm over an anti-police-brutality event planned for tonight at Southeast's Colonel Summers Park—tying it to Occupy Portland and warning they'll be prepared to make "arrests as necessary."

The unpermitted rally and march—in solidarity with the 400 protesters arrested last month in Oakland—is planned for 6 pm, and police are worried the whole thing will turn ugly. This concern is apparently based on fliers and handouts promoting the event. The note comes after an official Occupy rally in solidarity with Egypt late last month spilled from Pioneer Courthouse Square and onto downtown streets—something the police really don't like—bringing out one of the most forceful police responses to an Occupy event in months.

Witness this selection from the cops' statement (read the full thing after the cut):

Local flyers indicate this is a "a rally and march in Solidarity with Occupy Oakland and against corruption". The local literature also references the Portland Police's use of force as well.

Since the occupy movement began in Portland, Occupy Portland has emphasized the need for peaceful demonstrations. Portland Police have also worked to ensure safe and peaceful events for all. Police are concerned about tonight's rally and march because the tone and content of available information is decidedly more hostile and escalating.

The members of the Police Bureau are sworn to protect all people rights to free speech and keep the peace. However, we must balance the competing rights of all people in the community so that everyone‚s rights are protected. There is no permit for tonight's rally and march, but those in attendance will still be expected to follow all laws. If this does not occur, the Police Bureau will take appropriate action to include arrests as necessary.

Yes, one of the fliers that police scanned and sent out does exhort marchers to "fight back now," which could be read as clandestine and threatening. But then there's the official (and quite public) Facebook page for the event—which the police bureau doesn't mention. "The purpose of this action is to show solidarity and raise awareness," the event summary reads. "Conduct yourself in an orderly and respectful manner, but be revolutionary!"

And what about the police bureau's assertion that this is an Occupy Portland event? That's not quite accurate. The cops' statement misses the nuance that although this is being planned by some of the more radical participants in Occupy, it's been neither promoted nor endorsed through the movement's spokescouncil or general assembly. (In fact, it isn't even on any of the movement's official calendars.)

"It's a guy from Occupy doing it," says Occupy media volunteer Alex Pio. "But it's not an 'Occupy event.'"

That's not to say things won't turn confrontational. There's long been some tension within Occupy between black bloc types/sympathizers and some of the other mainstream Occupy organizers over messaging and tactics, and that's undoubtedly one reason why this didn't go through so-called proper channels.

Even still, says mayoral candidate Cameron Whitten, who isn't planning on showing up tonight, "the police are definitely inflating and exaggerating things as usual."

We shall see.

Here's the full police statement:

As a result of police action in Oakland, California, Occupy Oakland's general assembly declared Monday, February 6, 2012, a "call for action against police brutality and arrests".

Locally, today, Monday, February 6, 2012 a "tired of police brutality march" is planned for 6:00 p.m. beginning at Colonel Summers Park, located at Southeast Belmont Street and 20th Avenue. Local flyers indicate this is a "a rally and march in Solidarity with Occupy Oakland and against corruption". The local literature also references the Portland Police's use of force as well.

Since the occupy movement began in Portland, Occupy Portland has emphasized the need for peaceful demonstrations. Portland Police have also worked to ensure safe and peaceful events for all. Police are concerned about tonight's rally and march because the tone and content of available information is decidedly more hostile and escalating.

The members of the Police Bureau are sworn to protect all people rights to free speech and keep the peace. However, we must balance the competing rights of all people in the community so that everyone‚s rights are protected. There is no permit for tonight's rally and march, but those in attendance will still be expected to follow all laws. If this does not occur, the Police Bureau will take appropriate action to include arrests as necessary.

The Police Bureau is sharing this information to let community members know that there may be disruptions as a result of the march. Since there is no permit, we cannot share what route the participants will take and what streets will be effected during the rush hour commute. Please be aware, however, if you are traveling in this area of Southeast Portland, there may be traffic delays.

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