On Responding to Protests: No Need to Reinvent the Wheel

Freedom of expression is a fundamental Constitutional right. The ability to express opinion and speak freely in a safe environment is essential to democracy. The job of police officers during protests is to uphold the right to free speech while providing a safe environment for both protest participants and those simply enjoying a day in downtown Portland.

There is no need to reinvent the wheel in dealing with the violence, disorder, and havoc we’ve come to expect at Portland’s protests. Officers do not respond to ideology or politics; we act and respond to criminal behavior. We need to make sure that our communication regarding all protests for all involved is straight-forward, clear, and concise.

We must have an all-hands-on-deck approach to staffing to allow officers to respond to criminal behavior such as violence and property damage, quickly and decisively. Pole cameras should be used to record protests to provide, accountability, identify criminal activity, and offer post event evaluation so we can continue to learn and evolve as an organization.

During permitted protests, all participants must stay within the boundaries of the permit. For unpermitted protests, all participants must stay within the boundaries of pedestrian laws. Those who don’t comply with clear directions and warnings should be arrested for disorderly conduct. Obviously, those who commit more serious violations of the law should be arrested immediately.

It’s a simple formula: have enough police officers present on August 17th to protect peaceful first amendment activities. If laws are broken, if it turns violent, officers should be empowered with the resources to enforce the laws and keep the peace. We’ve all grown weary of excuses. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel; we just need to use common sense and back-to-basics policing.