Statement on Use of Chemical Substances, LRADs, and Rubber Bullets
June 9, 2020
Photo by Eric Slade/OPB
On Sunday night, I walked to Irving Park. It was absolutely incredible to see and be surrounded by the thousands of people affirming that Black Lives Matter and demanding change.
On Monday morning, I read accounts from people who had been protesting at the Justice Center later in the evening. I read about people being tear gassed, struck with batons, hit with rubber bullets. Constituents have emailed similar stories.
I join the protesters, Commissioners Hardesty and Eudaly, Portland African American Leadership Forum, Unite Oregon, the Portland Committee on Community Engaged Policing, and other community groups in calling for a ban on the use of methods such as CS gas and other chemicals, LRADs, and rubber bullets.
I do recognize the need, and feel a responsibility, for protecting the safety of County employees and people in the Justice Center. That responsibility weighs heavily on me. But I keep coming back to the belief that a militarized response is wrong. These methods are disproportionate to the actions of people protesting, and, ultimately, not effective. And there’s a reason they’re banned in war.People in the streets demanding change are calling on us to imagine a different way. A different way of keeping the public safe. A different way of doing justice. Of showing that Black Lives Matter. Because of those demanding change, there is such extraordinary possibility right now of actually doing things differently. Part of what keeps us from changing is that while we know what we’re doing now doesn’t work, it’s all we know, and so we cling to it. It’s time to let go.