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Don’t Shoot Portland Protesters Flood Mayor’s Office

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

 

Screengrab from UStream

Dozens of people pressed against the doors of Portland Mayor Charlie Hales' office Tuesday, after activists from Don’t Shoot Portland invited the "whole city” to a private meeting with the Mayor.

“Why not us! Why not us!” activists chanted outside the mayor’s office, as protesters tried to gain entry into meeting.

A group of fifteen protestors, including Teressa Raiford and other leadership of Don't Shoot Portland, were initially invited to meet with mayor, said Hiram Asmuth, one of the protestors left outside the Mayor's office. "We've been continually trying to get him to come out here," Asmuth said. "Obviously he's not interested in meeting with us."

Inside, the gathering between the mayor and a handful of residents was chaotic at times, with several people speaking at once.  Things eventually settled down and individual residents spoke with the mayor, airing grievances with the police department, the City of Portland, and gentrification.

The events were streamed live from an activist's video camera.

"What I want is police accountability," said one black woman to the mayor. "I'm accountable at my job. I don't feel like (the police) care about my community.  I can't get them to even look at me."

The Mayor addressed a wide range of issues, from housing policies to discrimination in general.

"The laws might be equal now, but there is still discrimination," Hales said. "We are trying to reform the police bureau.  We've made some progress. We're not where we need to be. But we've made some progress."

Raiford lead residents into the meeting in shifts.

One black woman almost came to tears as she recalled being stopped by police. She said she wasn't afraid of getting a ticket, but of getting shot.

“I was scared for my life," she said. “I feel more nervous about police officers than I am about criminals in the streets.  When I see police, I get a heart attack. I wonder if this is the day another black person is going to be killed.”

The meeting was originally set up between Don't Shoot Portland organizer Theressa Raiford, the police and the Mayor.  But Monday afternoon Raiford invited 1,000 people to the meeting via Facebook. By Monday afternoon, there were about 30 people who said they would attend. 

The Mayor's office was initially surprised by the development when informed by GoLocalPDX, but then said the more the merrier. 

“If they want to hold a rally, they are welcome to do so,” said Dana Haynes, spokesman for the mayor. “But the Mayor will meet with Ms. Raiford and the other leaders of Don’t Shoot Portland.”

 

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