Protests in Portland over New Police Union Contract

Protests in Portland over New Police Union Contract

This Wednesday there were protests in Portland, Oregon over the provisions of the new police union contract. Protesters gathered in front of City Hall in Portland to make manifest their disagreement to what the new rules for police officers would be.

The problem, as the protesters see it, is the provisions in the contract that would protect the police officers too much and allow them to get away with wrongdoing. Activists say that the new rules give police officers more leeway than they should have. In the event of an investigation into police misconduct, the new police union contract protects the officers from accountability.

Portland Residents Protest the Rules of the New Police Union Contract

The protest on Wednesday led to City Hall having to shut down. Protesters blocked the streets in front of the City Hall building. That also affected the light rail system and the bus system of the city. They were not operational in the area for a while.

As riot police was trying to disperse the crowd and clear the area, they made use of pepper spray. Demonstrators reacted by throwing “projectiles” at the police. According to the police, one police officer was assaulted by one of the protesters.

In the end, the police managed to put an end to the protest. During the course of the events, the police arrested ten protesters.

The main grievances of Portland activists and demonstrators regard the use of body cameras by police officers. The issue was part of an open and controversial discussion in the Portland community. Many were unhappy with the provision that police officers could have access to body cameras before turning them in. According to a provision in the contract, officers have the right to review the footage from body camera before they write the incident report. However, the rule does not apply to fatal shootings.

Police Body Cameras Could Represent an Unfair Advantage

Portland residents would rather police officers didn’t review the camera footage at all before turning in their reports. On an issue regarding transparency, the residents and the police are on different sides. However, the City Council sided with the police in a three to one vote. They approved the new police union contract.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for the city said that the contract did not include the controversial new rule about body cameras. Although, the possibility of that provision remains open. It can be picked up again for public discussion and public input in a year’s time.

Civil rights groups have concerns regarding the possible misuse of body cameras. So they protested the new police union contract. They say the body camera rules, that are a distinct possibility, could allow for police misconduct. According to activists, the body cameras give police officers an unfair advantage. They can replay an incident form their body cameras. Witnesses and others involved in an incident only have their memory to rely on. Also, having the possibility to review footage before writing the police report could invite abuse. The police officers could change their accounts to fit the video footage.

Image source: here.