Meeting With Portland Police Chief Reese, Nov. 4th

November 5, 2011
By

What: A meeting today at 10:30am, occurred between Portland Police Chief Reese, Commander Day, several other officers, as well a point of contact for Peace & Safety (Gina R.), a point of contact for Information (Arahia) , two PR reps (John & Paul) and Tad from Engineering.  Teresa from PR was invited as well, but due to the short notice of the meeting, was unable to arrive in time, and arrived after the meeting started and was not able to attend. The meeting was intended to be in open forum, but it was stated by officer Robert King that the Police Chief would only meet with 5-6 people in their office at the Justice Center. Both video and audio recordings were allowed and were recorded by John & Paul.  Arahia took written notes.

Content: The meeting was summoned as a means for Peace & Safety to directly respond to the concerns and emerging questions which arose due to a very emotionally charged press release and internal memo made on behalf of the Portland Police Department regarding the recent Occupy endorsed solidarity with Oakland march regarding police brutality.

There were four main agenda items that the occupy supporters brought forth to the Portland Police:

  • Issue with cultural misunderstandings
  • Incident regarding alleged citizen pushing an officer in to a moving bus
  • A needed clarification on Class ‘C’ uniforms
  • Specific concerns regarding action logistics

The first question presented to the police chief was a concern over the difference between the PPB hierarchy structure compared to that of the horizontal collective processes and structure of the Portland Occupy Movement. It was asked if the PPB currently interprets our processes as inherently threatening. Chief Reese then asked who the leaders of the movement were and or if we were leaders.  It was then expressed by us, that in order to have productive conversations between police and Occupy Portland that the police would have to have a better understanding of the processes we utilize and our form of collective leadership. It was acknowledged that it may be difficult for officers coming from a hierarchical structure to operate comfortably within a different process, but it was assured that it could be done, providing that they understand that there is not a single go to person, or a single group. It was explained that if they wish to have better communication with the movement they would have to express their specific concerns with the GA, related individual sub working groups, as well as our PR team and our newly emerging liaison team.  This was acknowledged and we were thanked for explaining this better.

Our other discussion was in relation to the alleged incident involving a participant in the Wednesday march who supposedly pushed an officer in to a moving bus. This issue is obviously of great concern, so in a matter of clarification, it was asked if the Portland Police would release the video to the public regarding the alleged incident. Gina R. expressed that she attended the March as a peace and safety member and based on her observation did not witness at any time, anyone pushing an officer in to a moving bus. Police Chief Reese responded by saying that they are unaware of the existence of a video and that any such evidence would be presented during the case trial. If members of Occupy are interested in knowing more about this case we should follow or attend the trial.

The next question was in regards to clarifying what a Class ‘C’ uniform looks like in comparison to what we at the occupation and the public have been currently seeing. Officer Day was apparently wearing this exact uniform (without the extra tactical gear). It looks like a standard navy blue police uniform with a heavier tactical belt. He modeled it for us and explained that it was the equivalent to ‘blue pajamas.’ In the internal memo sent by Chief Reese to officers, it states that “All sworn members will have their gas mask, baton, and helmet immediately available.” It is unclear based on the response given in the meeting whether or not the term “immediately available” refers to them wearing the extra tactical gear.

The main conversation revolved around issues pertaining to political action logistics. Chief Reese was asked to clarify what the department meant by his statement, “The tone of this march seemed to change from previous events, and many in the crowd seemed confrontational.”  Chief Reese then explained that protestors in this march were more verbally aggressive, some waving sticks as well as their accusation of having an officer being pushed in to a moving bus. It was clear by this conversation that fear and uncertainty surrounding the nature of organic events is interpreted by the police as an aggressive approach. The Chief was then asked if there were any specific concerns he would like to clarify, taking in to consideration the movement’s desire for free and organic actions. He said yes and provided a list of statements and requests:

-          They would like Occupy Portland to know that they do not wish to be adversarial, and that their duty is to ensure the public safety of all. They say they have to balance freedom of speech with the concerns, safety and freedoms of others, which is no easy task.

-          Although they appreciate the desire and need for organic action, they request in the future that marches, especially of a large nature, at the very least have a desired destination and or purpose, and that this destination and or purpose be communicated with the PPB, even if it is only 10minutes beforehand. This is so they can help mitigate traffic and prevent unaware citizens from being accidentally injured, as well as them.

-          Chief Reese was asked specifically what number of participants is required to take the streets freely, and he said that his personal opinion was that there would have to be well over 200 however the exact number will be decide by the individual incident commander on duty at the time of the action.

-          It is requested that all non-permitted events with 200 or less keep to the sidewalks

-          If the movement wishes to keep the events nonviolent it was expressed that there is a ‘shared accountability’ in ensuring that this happens. The best way for the movement to do this according to Reese is to have the community of Occupy Portland hold each other to the values of nonviolent peaceful protest.

NOTE: It is unclear at this time despite further conversation on this subject, if the police will continue to interpret all nonviolent actions outside the reaches of permits and permission as aggressive or threatening. The current memo and press release indicates that they will.

 

It was then expressed by us that due to the organic nature of many of these events it will not always be logistically possible or desirable to provide all of the information they are requesting at the moments they are requesting. This was acknowledged and Chief Reese responded by re-stating their desire for more communication on the ground, even if all the details are unknown.

We also addressed our concern for the PPB escalated aggression citing their verbal announcement at the Wednesday march that they would employ chemical weapons or impact weapons upon those not staying on the sidewalks. It was expressed that this use of language generates great fear and can in actuality create a scenario of violence rather than de-escalation. Gina R. responded specifically stating that the statement and desire to “protect people” made on behalf of the Portland police sounds ridiculous when paired with the statement of the use of force. Chief Reese asked if we had a better idea on how to handle the situation when people are not peacefully responding to the request of moving on the sidewalks. Out of what appeared to be clear frustration over a lack of other options it sounded as though police may be willing to employ an alternative tactic if a better idea is presented. The subject then changed and a direct response to this question was not able to be made.


Final Closing Remarks:

The Police Chief asked if we had any final statements. We said we had covered everything we wanted to cover, and he then asked if he could address some of the PPB concerns regarding the in camp environment. We said yes, and Chief Reese provided the following concerns:

-Health & Sanitation (Public Health, Disease, Hygiene)

-Violence

-Minors & Street Youth (Runaways, Schools & Resources)

-A need for low impact camping

-Fear of increased occupation in small space

 

Additionally they wanted to give some feedback regarding the overall perception of the movement. They feel that we are losing our political message by being bogged down by internal camp issues, and that we are losing ‘public’ support. Commander Day spoke to this issue specifically, and voiced a concern that it may be to the benefit of the movement to create some sort of distinction between internal camp issues and the overall political issues. It was unclear as to what the term “distinction” meant explicitly. However, it was suggested that those who suffer the most from poverty and disenfranchisement be connected to the resources available and that Occupy should make a more concentrated effort in making this happen.  To do this he suggested creating a stronger collaboration between transitions Projects, Join, and Janus Youth Programs as well as the recently opened winter shelter. In response to these comments it was then expressed by us, a concern over the lack of resources and capacity that these organizations have and that they are most likely unable to assist many in the encampment. No real response was made regarding this issue on behalf of the PPB. It was simply reiterated that these services and programs are good programs.

 

In response to the overall concerns of the encampment we responded by explaining that the transitions and sustainability working group is in the current process of developing an Occupation wide survey to gain community feedback regarding issues surrounding the Portland  Occupy Movement  for the purpose of developing an immediate and comprehensive sustainable transitions proposal. It was also stated that many in the movement are aware and concerned about the very same issues and we are in the processes of a large collaborative effort seeking to address these issues as a community.

Chief’s  Memo, Nov. 4th

Further details of this meeting can be found via video or audio recording which will be posted by John and or Paul from the PR team sometime soon. Those with questions, concerns and or comments may contact any of us via e-mail, and or in person at the camp. This meeting and its notes will be presented at tonight’s GA, and posted online under the Social Media and Peace & Safety Forum.   

 

13 Responses to Meeting With Portland Police Chief Reese, Nov. 4th

  1. Anonymous on November 5, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Is it true that the demands made by the police in this meeting are going to be presented to the GA as a proposal? Are representatives from the police department going to present the proposal to the GA?

  2. Pansypie on November 5, 2011 at 11:22 am

    I am trying to support Occupy Portland, and not see it as the media wants it portrayed. However, I was at the GA on Wednesday as the marchers showed up and as someone yelled out, “there’s an arrest!” Every single participant save myself, my friend, a guy half our age who didn’t follow his friends, and the people in charge of the mics left the GA. That made me so sad that I walked away with a heavy heart, thinking that maybe this movement, that us older, working folk with more responsibilities are asking you to keep alive with your exuberance and passion, may be asking too much.

    My point…The tone represented by OP in this memo seems confrontational, and is unwarranted. Your exuberance and passions seem to be getting in the way of your message. To me, the police sound very amenable to your ideas; if you present alternatives, they will do them. This is Portland, Oregon, and these are Portland police. We’re cool…we’re not like other places. Don’t bank on everyone’s coolness, but remember that we have proven ourselves quite special in the past.

    Lastly, please take the police up on their idea to help guide our most hurting to the resources they mentioned. There are people in every community (I’m speaking about OP as a community) who are compelled to help the less fortunate. They seem to have an uncanny knack for talking to them, and finding out their troubles. I’m sure the community of OP has them as well, and they should be utilized for this outreach to the community at large (can’t go wrong with positive PR.). Other than this,
    STAY ON POINT UNTIL IT’S SO SHARP IT MAKES THE 1% HURT!!!

    P.S. So looking forward to seeing if the PPB gets involved in GA’s! That’s what I’m talking about! Big smile that day!

  3. Maia on November 5, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Video of this meeting is posted here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5e7KKDN4VqA

  4. Pansypie on November 5, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    As my comment awaits moderation, I want to request that neither of these posts be posted for the general public to see, but rather only taken in by those closely involved in OP committees. I feel I have sent off my first comment prematurely, and as I do not want to quash, nor disparage this movement in any way, I make this request, but want also to offer an explanation. As I have now read the police chief’s memo about wearing Class C uniforms, I feel the same way about his words and actions as I felt about OP’s; missing the mark of what is important by a mile! Chief Reese’s comments do not reflect the flexibility and understanding of what OP is all about, like I perceived in the notes taken by Arahia. I do not agree with his decision to wear this type of uniform, and he will receive a letter letting him know that I feel this attire is not appropriate for everyday peace keeping, nor organized marches of a non-violent movement. Not to mention it’s going to be dang uncomfortable, such gear incites fear and animosity that can lead to violence.

    Thanks for listening guys, my final wish is that my comments today be taken in the same vein as this…My friends tell me the truth, even when they know it’s going to hurt me, and I love them for it!

  5. Pansypie on November 5, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Oh crap! Now I don’t know how many versions of the same letter you got and don’t have the time before I gotta go to work to look into it. Don’t mean to “spam” up your space.

    Peace.

    Miss Pansypie

  6. sartori on November 5, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Dear occupiers,

    thanks for the transcript of the meeting and the evident transparency. please post the missing GA minutes so that those of us who are vested in this movement can keep abreast of decisions and the culture. just some wisdom to ponder- please be careful with the urge to document your perceptions and interpretations as fact.perceptions and projections are of course human nature and we all do it. however, when presenting documents as transcripts of conversations, there is a danger these perceptions will be taken as fact by your readers. an example is noted below, there are several more peppered throughout the transcript. perhaps in the future,a more effective approach (when confronted with your own interpretation) is to ask..do you interpret the uncertainty surrounding the nature of the organic events as an aggressive approach? you may be surprised by the answer provided. always, always, always seek to understand…

    “It was clear by this conversation that fear and uncertainty surrounding the nature of organic events is interpreted by the police as an aggressive approach.”

    there is so much to think about on both sides (ppb and op), this important conversation must continue.

    peace and blessings to you,
    thanks for posting this

  7. ImarchedWednesday on November 5, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    I marched on Wednesday and continued across the Hawthorne Bridge. That march was one of the best experiences of my life and it is disappointing that this march has also become a particularly alienating issue with some members of Portland (police, co-workers, media establishment). Thank you so much for meeting with the Police and making a sincere attempt at communication. I hope we can find a solution which makes their jobs easier and makes them more accepting of Occupy while also protecting and building on the space that we are creating in Portland society. We must continue to energize and motive people across social boundaries while also making a strong and principled stand against economic and state violence. It is inevitable that we will alienate some people but we will lose if we alienate large segments of the population. We are fighting for the 99%, and the 99% include the police and people who identify as being ‘democrats, moderates, independents, republicans, christian, or conservative’.

  8. PJ on November 5, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    He is correct in the fact you are losing the support of the public due to the prevalence of non-participatory riff raff in the camp. When Occupy Portland started I was donating time and money I did not have to spare, along with some of my personal disaster supplies. I cut off all of that a few weeks ago once it became clear that the Occupy Portland encampment had become nothing more than a complete disaster. Drum circles piss people off and ruin the legitimacy of a movement. Letting just anyone stay without contributing ruins legitimacy. Pointlessly blocking Main St that the 99% use to get to work shot all the public support right in the foot. I talked to people around the city about that particular action and it ruined support city wide. It now seems the encampment is doing everything possible to drive away support and ruin any further actions. While we were only two blocks away protesting the arrival of JPMC CEO Jamie Dimon I visited the camp to find it completely full of people sitting around bickering about trite social bs and getting drunk and high. As far as I have observed the camp is now detrimental to the cause and should imho be shut down. It has become nothing more than a shield and hangout spot for tweekers and street families, some of which I recognize from my time being homeless. Occupation was just the first step, now you have to actually participate and put your dwindling freedoms on the line to accomplish something.

  9. john a on November 5, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    tweakers and street families are part of the 99%. Unfortunately they may not be very politically aware. You can take a stab at educating them, or you can just just discard them on the way to the next pointless march around some random symbol.

  10. psychohistorian on November 5, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Thanks for the posting so those of us not resident have some clue of what is going on other than our periodic attempts to participate and be supportive.

    Real democracy is hard and we haven’t been practicing it like we should have been.

  11. Zella on November 6, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Response to PJ. Some of your concerns are reasonable and shared by others at the camp; participation, as well as drugs, sanitation and safety are issues that the camp is working on addressing. However to me it seems that you are more basically claiming that the people that live at Occupy are nothing more than street trash and don’t deserve support or shelter. For someone who claims to have been homeless in the past, that view is rather unusual. I agree that changes need to be made, but kicking the homeless out of a public space in order to be more “legitimate” seems a little too like the exact sort of behavior we are protesting for my comfort.

  12. PJ on November 7, 2011 at 6:40 am

    No John, you’re clearly not listening. There was no march, we were protesting outside the Hilton where the CEO of JP Morgan Chase was having a meeting. That’s not a “random symbol.” As far as the tweekers and street families, you are clearly speaking as someone who isn’t and has not dealt with them. They are not there to participate, only to get high and mooch off free services. By all means feel free to go down in person and pry the needle from their vein and put them to work for the movement.

  13. PJ on November 8, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Thank you for putting words in my mouth that aren’t there. Your claim that it is just an issue of education makes plain how little you understand about the situation. Not all people are benevolent by nature. One of the particular tweekers I was referring to happens to be an RN, not someone I’d call uneducated. You need to get over the fact that not all people want to do good. These people I’m referring to are there to take advantage of free resources and to use the encampment as a base and hideout. I agree, homeless people need to be included and are a part of the 99%, however, there should be a participation stipulation to staying in the camp. I’m not claiming that EVERY person there is “street trash”, I’m saying the vast majority of people I saw there were not there to participate. I applaud and support the occupy movement, that’s why I donated resources I really can’t spare. I’m just sick and tired of going to bank protest/actions a few blocks from the encampment just to have only two to five people show. GET ON IT, GET ORGANIZED, DEAL WITH THE RIFF RAFF AND PARTICIPATE!

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