Police Apologize to Occupy Portland

Mark Vorpahl
As this article indicates, he was clearly in a position to try to use the respectability of the police force to blame poor police response times on Occupy Portland. This has been the City’s strategy all along and with the nationwide consultation of other mayors, police groups and law enforcement agencies including President Obama’s U.S. […]

Portland Police Apologize to Occupy Portland Introduction by Workers Action

Three weeks ago, Portland Chief of Police Mike Reese was a man on his way to becoming the next Mayor of Portland, Oregon. Today, he is facing petitions that are calling for his ousting as police chief.

Even by regular political standards this type of fall from grace is startling. Reese was backed by the 1% of Portland in the hopes that he would crush the Occupy Movement without offending many of the liberal establishment whom he must cater to. The Portland Business Alliance (banks, contractors and the Portland Trail Blazers) had made it clear that Reese stood head and shoulders above the other prospective candidates for Portland’s next mayor.

As this article indicates, he was clearly in a position to try to use the respectability of the police force to blame poor police response times on Occupy Portland. This has been the City’s strategy all along and with the nationwide consultation of other mayors, police groups and law enforcement agencies including President Obama’s U.S. Justice Department, the FBI and Homeland Security, the key has been from the beginning: tarnish the Occupy movement by isolating activists.

Reese failed by overstepping and a few days after this report was filed, he quietly withdrew from the race he never actually entered and in doing so stopped at least temporarily the Portland Business Alliances best hope for brokering peace between the 99% and the 1%. This is a victory for Occupy not because of the man that was stopped but rather because of who he represents.

 

Statement from Police Chief Mike Reese
November 21, 2011

In interviews with KGW and KPTV on Thursday afternoon, I stated that a call involving a rape victim had not been handled by officers for three hours due to police resources being tied up with Occupy Portland. The reality was more complex. I subsequently learned that the call I referred to occurred on November 6, and there were a variety of factors impacting police resources that day, including Occupy Portland. On Friday, the Portland Police Bureau released full details surrounding this incident and our response, which you can read here. Link

It was not my intention to mislead people, especially around an incident as serious and sensitive as a reported sexual assault. I spoke about the incident without knowing all of the details and made assumptions that were not correct. I apologize; I should have gathered all of the information before discussing it publicly.

The past six weeks have strained police resources. During this time many officers, sergeants, detectives, and command staff have worked long hours with little time off. We are working hard to provide the quality service the public has come to expect, but it is sometimes a struggle. I also know from talking personally to many of the protestors, that they too are tired from the unique challenges of this unprecedented movement.

This may be an opportunity for us to collectively take a pause and reassess the way the police and protestors have been approaching this situation, to find a uniquely Portland solution. Today, we tried something new. Our Incident Commander Mike Leloff met with protestors before a march and asked if they wanted a police escort. When they told him no, he asked that they self-police their event and obey the law; police would only respond if there were complaints. The march participants agreed, and the event proceeded without any problems, or a police presence.

This is a model of cooperation that we could build upon for future events, and I want to thank today’s marchers for making this possible. We all share a responsibility for public safety and respecting the rights of everyone in our community. I look forward to further dialogue with Mayor Sam Adams and Occupy Portland protestors about how we can maintain a safe and welcoming community, while respecting the right to free speech.

Tags: , ,

Mark Vorpahl is a unionist and anti-war activist and writer for Workers Action. He may be reached at portland@workerscompass.org