Portland Dispatch February 1: Wokeness and its Discontents

The Portland Business Alliance is one of the few organized opponents of the fundamental changes wreaked upon Portland in the nearly two years now of radical progressive dominance effected by months of anarchist rioting and intimidation of political opponents, with some help from, ironically, law enforcement in the form of Multnomah County District Attorney Micheal Schimdt.

So it’s the PBA that brings us this poll showing a profound lack of faith in Portland’s direction and government:

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A new poll of Portland metro voters shows the top concerns are crime and homelessness and most said the region is the wrong track.

The poll from the Portland Business Alliance showed a decided shift in attitudes since 2017. Andrew Hoan, the head of the Portland Business Alliance, said he was surprised by the results.

He told KOIN 6 News the survey makes it clear what people think is wrong with the city. Nearly half said homelessness is the top concern and shared their views on what should be done.

Nearly 88% of voters polled by DHM research say the quality of life in Portland is getting worse. That’s up from 47% in 2017.

Most surveyed support requiring people living outside to instead live in shelters or designated camping sites. And most said downtown Portland was either much less safe or somewhat less safe than a year ago.

Meanwhile, 90% of voters “strongly” or “somewhat” support funding to require police officers to wear body-worn cameras, which Portland is currently beginning to implement.

Police abolitionists have been unenthusiastic about police body-worn cameras, likely because they tend to result in fewer overall complaints against police; this from a cop-friendly source:

Quicker resolution. Body-worn cameras may lead to a faster resolution of citizen complaints and lawsuits that allege excessive use of force and other forms of officer misconduct. Investigations of cases that involve inconsistent accounts of the encounter from officers and citizens are often found to be “not sustained” and are subsequently closed when there is no video footage nor independent or corroborating witnesses. This, in turn, can decrease the public’s trust and confidence in law enforcement and increase perceptions that claims of abuse brought against officers will not be properly addressed. Video captured by body-worn cameras may help corroborate the facts of the encounter and result in a quicker resolution

But there are other reasons for police abolitionists to distrust body cameras:

Corroborating evidence. Footage captured may also be used as evidence in arrests or prosecutions. Proponents have suggested that video captured by body-worn cameras may help document the occurrence and nature of various types of crime, reduce the overall amount of time required for officers to complete paperwork for case files, corroborate evidence presented by prosecutors, and lead to higher numbers of guilty pleas in court proceedings.

The body cams are now being implemented finally at the behest of the Department of Justice, as a condition of lifting a long-standing federal injunction settling a pattern-and-practice lawsuit with Obama’s DOJ. Against soft opposition Eric Holder’s enforcer Thomas Perez forced reforms regarding the Portland Police Bureau’s treatment of the mentally ill in 2014. The city was to labor under federal injunction until 2021; then George Floyd happened.

The settlement agreement in effect since then and requiring annual review deserves a brief revisiting. After a Portland cop shot and killed a mentally ill man in 2010 Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and Congressman Earl Blumenaur sent this letter to Eric Holder’s DOJ requesting a federal investigation. Portland’s police commissioner and city council member Dan Saltzman joined them with his own. The result was all but a given; the chief of police (and now Multnomah County Sheriff) Mike Reese, something of a woke cop, was making reforms before the settlement came down and moved aggressively to implement recommended changes.

Before policing broke down in the city the changes were visible in police encounters with our ever-present and growing mentally ill population; more than once I saw three or so cops conducting careful interviews, standing a little further away (social distancing!) and deliberately assuming a less aggressive posture. But I don’t see that any more because I don’t see the police engaging with people at all any more; but I do see more of the mentally ill now, shooting up on the streets and sleeping beneath gaudy BLM murals on boarded-up businesses.

Despite the city’s eager compliance and following Biden’s election the Department of Justice turned its (already feeble) attention away from the anarchist mobs that spent a month in 2020 attacking the (still barricaded) federal courthouse here and decided to apply the settlement ruling–on engagement with the mentally ill–to engagement with rioting antifa. No one uttered the joke that must have occurred to many: it was no stretch to apply an order on the treatment of the mentally ill to the treatment of antifa rioters. One could say the only difference is between personal and organized crazy.

Months before the city was set to be released from the federal injunction aggressive DOJ attorneys demanded a “plan of remediation” for how the police handle violent protests, uncritically accepting the anarchist line of “6,000” incidents of police use of force during the riots (every one unjustified, no doubt). The federal boot did not lift but applied a little extra pressure and forced, among other things, police body cams, which police abolitionists may come to regret.

They are very much aware of that. Jo Ann Hardesty, city commissioner and leader of the police abolitionists, had to be convinced by friendly DOJ attorneys to support cameras, and the abolitionists are now lobbying to establish control over the footage, which is where the fight now lies.

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