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M1: An Open Letter to Lt. King, Chief Reese and Mayor Adams

May 3, 2012

photo by Paul

This story is part of our feature about the many protest events on May 1, 2012. Visit the feature page to see more.

by Kip Silverman

I am getting tired of hearing Lt. King and others from the PPB speak about “the tone of occupy has shifted” (OPB’s Think Out Loud May 1) which is what you have said time and again prior to any protest that you plan on having riot police showing up to, or have an aggressive response to an action.

Because one or two people may show aggressive verbiage at a Portland Police Officer, it is ridiculous to characterize and entire movement as changing its tone, especially when Occupy Portland has been committed to peaceful marches, events and occupations from day one. And Occupy has successfully demonstrated our commitment to peaceful protest.

The only time there have been any incidents of violence at an Occupy event is when the police show up and instigate the violence. People only get hurt when the police hurt them. The outliers of this fact have been few and far between.

I have spoken to this fact in City Hall, and Mayor Adams didn’t have a word to say in response. There was a blank face and barely an acknowledgment of my words.

We have seen an incoherent and inconsistent strategy by the PPB in regards to how they approach and deal with Occupy and affinity groups and we are seeing an ever present sense of more malice and aggression.

After yesterday, it is clear to us that the tone and tenor of the Portland Police has become decidedly violent and aggressive and they are clearly not upholding their civic duty to promote the peace and safety of Portland citizens exercising their Constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly.

There’s no explaining the amount of violence and tactics deployed during the May 1 events, but we’re going to demand an explanation regardless. People were pulled off their bikes for no reason. People were slammed into pavement and hit with police bikes. Where in the Police manual is it legitimate to slam a bike into a person from behind for stepping off a sidewalk to help someone that has fallen down? This happened to someone very close to me.

When did it become policy for a Police officer to repeatedly punch a restrained person who is on the street and not resisting? Take a look at this video at around the 19 minute mark.

http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/22273409

The next video shows two police brutally wrestling a person to the street, restraining him and then throwing down a woman on top of him and trying to drag the woman by her hair.

The woman was clearly pulled into the situation, and when by PPB policy is it appropriate to pull someone to one side by their hair?

Another great example is the takedown of this peaceful woman. Please explain this series of photos.

What the hell is going on with your department? Where is the leadership and training?

Mayor Adams, Chief Reese and Lt King: If you think it’s acceptable to use violence on people that step off a sidewalk, hold people zip-tied for more than 4 hours for a misdemeanor violation and punch a 15-year-old kid, then you need to explain all of this to the citizenry of Portland.

We are collecting and documenting these events.

This is not Seattle, this is not Oakland. This is Portland, Oregon. The numbers of demonstrators were about the same in each city, yet in our city there were barely any incidents at all and none that warranted the brutal response from the Portland Police.

It is no wonder that the US Department of Justice has an open investigation on the use of force and brutality in the Portland Police Bureau.

As citizens of Portland and of the United States of America, we expect and demand better. And we will hold you accountable.

Expect Us.

Kip Silverman
Portland Oregon

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6 Responses to M1: An Open Letter to Lt. King, Chief Reese and Mayor Adams

  1. John Wood on May 3, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    “Because one or two people may show aggressive verbiage at a Portland Police Officer, it is ridiculous to characterize and entire movement as changing its tone, especially when Occupy Portland has been committed to peaceful marches, events and occupations from day one. And Occupy has successfully demonstrated our commitment to peaceful protest.”

    I don’t think police violence is warranted under any circumstances, but if only one or two people were being verbally abusive toward the cops, those one or two got around, because I constantly heard, “Fuck the cops,” “Fucking pigs,” “Get those animals off the horses,” and numerous other such comments.

    Anyone remember when we said instead, “We love you or “The police are the 99%, too?”

    In my opinion (not privy to the planning of the march), the purpose of the unpermitted march was to either provoke a response from the police or to show them how ineffective their tactics to stop the march were. If that was the purpose of the march, it was a success, and I think the police were stupid to fall for it, since they disrupted traffic more than did the marchers.

    Some of the police were unprofessional in their response to the taunts they received, while some, one horse cop in particular, maintained his cool. Despite the names he was called, I never saw a reaction from him; nor did I see him charge his horse into people. When I apologized to him for the verbal abuse he was getting, he smiled and said, “Thank you.”

    I don’t know, but if someone were in my face screaming insults at me, and I knew if I took him down, my buddies would jump in to help me, I might respond like some of the cops did. I don’t excuse their actions, but I do understand them.

    If the purpose of an action is to provoke a violent response from the police and it succeeds, don’t cry afterward that it accomplished its goal.

    • Jess E. Hadden on May 3, 2012 at 1:12 PM

      The violence preceded the taunts. If you saw your friends violently assaulted for no good reason, wouldn’t you likely say a few unkind words? And if it happened, again and again, with an unbelievable level of sadism, for hours and hours…?

      I am impressed by the restraint of the protesters.

      • Nicholas Caleb on May 3, 2012 at 2:05 PM

        I second Jesse here. Many of us came into Occupy with a sense that police were deserving of respect and if we only treated them well, they’d treat us with respect as well.

        6 months later, I’m quite sure that was extraordinarily naive. The police beat us up because they want to.

        “I don’t know, but if someone were in my face screaming insults at me, and I knew if I took him down, my buddies would jump in to help me, I might respond like some of the cops did. I don’t excuse their actions, but I do understand them.”

        This is the problem. People in the United States actually see violence as a legitimate response to harsh words. You may not “excuse” the actions, but here you are acting as if they are at least partially legitimate. The problem is that the police don’t just smash the people who are screaming insults. They bum rush a crowd and hurt other people.

        I never curse at the police when I protest, but I got hit with a fucking bike yesterday – literally, Officer Hubbard picked up his bike and swung it at me – because I dared to film an arrest from an inch off of the sidewalk. If you think that this is a legitimate use of force and if you only “understand it”, you are a bit of a sadist too (I think American society has a strong strain of sadism).

        It doesn’t take long for people who used to sympathize with police to become radicalized after repeated exposure to this crap.

        • Jess E. Hadden on May 3, 2012 at 3:15 PM

          Hubbard struck me with his bike, too — he ran onto the sidewalk, where I was filming, to do so. No justice, no peace.

    • rothstei on May 3, 2012 at 2:07 PM

      No one who punches a person, and then drags him or her across a sidewalk by the hair for a traffic violation is part of my 99%. Just because one officer “kept his cool” while riding a massive animal over other people doesn’t change anything.

  2. max anton on May 4, 2012 at 5:11 PM

    Whose crease?

    MIKE REESE!

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