Dear Friends & Neighbors,
Today Governor Kate Brown announced an agreement for the phased withdrawal of federal officers from downtown Portland. The presence of federal officers was unwarranted, unlawful, and a frightening abuse of power. Their presence epitomized the extrajudicial force that law enforcement has consistently and brutally perpetrated against Black Americans, the very source of the Black Lives Matter protests.
Our state stood up to this abuse of power, and continued to center the voices of Black individuals and organizations. I have been proud to take part in these protests and stand with the thousands of Oregonians who are fighting for a more just society.
As federal officers withdraw, I believe it is time to turn our attention from what we don’t want - federal thugs deployed for political purposes, abusive police tactics and more. - to what we do - a beloved community centered on racial and social justice.
To that end, Black-led organizations and activists unveiled yesterday the “Reimagine Oregon Project,” an ambitious, broad effort to end systemic racism throughout our state. The project rightly focuses on numerous areas of our lives, not just policing, but education, transportation, housing, economic development, health and well-being. Racism in our country is deeply embedded in all sectors of society, and nothing less than an extensive effort can root it out.
Many of the proposals touch on the work of Multnomah County, and as I’ve said before, while we have prioritized racial justice during my time on the Board of Commissions, we can and must do more. We must divest from a law enforcement system that threatens, kills, and extracts wealth from our BIPOC communities. We must invest in education, health, and the economy of those same communities. We need to center the voices of people of color, and continue to apply a racial equity lens to all the work we do.
The eyes of the world have been on Portland over the past month. We’ve shown defiance, compassion, empathy, and an enormous, diverse coalition committed to the belief that Black Lives Matter. Let’s now put that commitment and energy into action.
Food Security The COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying economic recession has worsened the inequitable distribution of resources and opportunities in our community. One of the most dire areas of concern to me has been ensuring that families have access to quality, nutritious food. That’s why I joined my colleagues Commissioners Susheela Jayapal and Lori Stegmann for a community conversation on access to food resources hosted by the Oregon Food Bank. We came together (virtually) with about 30 other community members for a multilingual conversation about the work that Multnomah County has done to promote healthy food access during this crisis. Here in Multnomah County we’ve:
- Distributed over $1 million in emergency funds to partner organizations to provide gift cards to community members so they can purchase healthy and culturally-relevant food;
- Shifted our food support system to deliver meals to people where they are social distancing and expanding those programs to address the immediate need; and
- Partnered with organizations like Chef Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen to serve meals in our communities
Preschool for All
Expanding access to preschool for families in our community has been a passion of mine since I first ran for office, and after years of work and countless hours of community, partner, and supporter involvement, we are one step closer to providing Preschool for All in Multnomah County.
Last week, members of our coalition joined me in briefing the Board of Commissioners on our detailed proposal to provide all 3- and 4-year old children in our community with a high-quality, culturally-appropriate, free preschool education. You can read the full plan, which would be funded by a tax on high income households, here.
I hope you'll be as excited about it as I am. At this historic moment, to be able to invest in our underserved Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities, in our children, in primarily women-owned businesses, and a women-dominated workforce is a tremendous opportunity and a fitting referral for this Board of Commissioners.
You can send a message to the Board of Commissioners expressing your support for Preschool for All here.
The Latest on COVID-19
Over the last few weeks we have seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations both in the metro region and statewide. In response to these increases, Governor Kate Brown has temporarily paused all statewide reopenings and instituted additional requirements for social distancing and face coverings. Those new requirements include:
- Extending the requirement to wear face coverings to all Oregonians aged 5 and older;
- Requiring face coverings while exercising indoors, and outdoors if a distance of 6 feet cannot be maintained;
- Lowering the maximum occupancy for businesses in counties currently in phase II from 250 to 100; and
- Requiring restaurants and bars to stop serving customers at 10 pm.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms they should seek a test. Multnomah County and our health system partners are offering multiple ways of obtaining a COVID-19 test for those with and without health insurance. Learn more about how to get tested here.