It doesn't happen very often, but every once in a while I find something agreeable.
By Billy J. Williams, United States Attorney for the District of Oregon.The only thing I object to is his use of the word 'commonsense'. Sense seems to be in short supply these days, and I certainly wouldn't call it common, but perhaps it's just that the troglodytes are making so much noise that detecting any sense in the general uproar requires super-human fortitude.
Portlanders have a rich history of demonstrating peacefully for many different causes. Over the past year, there have been nearly 200 free speech events in the city and the vast majority were peaceful.
But once again, Portland has made national headlines because otherwise peaceful First Amendment protests on June 29 turned violent.
Civic discourse should be civil; people should feel free to express their views without fearing injury. Political violence cannot be tolerated. It is unacceptable for individuals and groups to use violence and exploit peaceful protests to promote their ideology. It must stop.
Political extremists using the First Amendment as a cloak have infiltrated these peaceful protests.
Following each episode of politically-motivated violence, the police get blamed: for not doing enough; for doing too much; for pandering to the right; or for being agents of the left. Large demonstrations are either under-policed or over-policed depending on your perspective.
Blaming law enforcement is not the answer.
We cannot simply decry violence while failing to adequately equip and support law enforcement. Police officers are expected to quickly mobilize and protect thousands of peaceful demonstrators from individual acts of violence. Yet, as I write this, the Portland Police Bureau faces a shortage of 128 officers or more than 10% of its budgeted personnel.
And to further complicate matters, because of unique liability issues, the city recently lost mutual support commitments from multiple law enforcement agencies in surrounding jurisdictions. Without these mutual support agreements, Portland cannot call in additional officers from other metro law enforcement agencies in a time of need.
This is an untenable position for the Portland Police Bureau and may discourage law-abiding Oregonians from exercising their First Amendment rights for fear the police cannot guarantee their safety.
Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw has raised several proposals that would better equip officers to protect the safety of demonstrators and prevent violence and property damage.
These commonsense measures include banning masks at demonstrations and filming protests to document criminal acts and aid prosecution. An earlier proposal backed by Mayor Ted Wheeler to divide opposing groups into separate free speech zones was rejected by the city council. The council should re-evaluate their decision and consider Chief Outlaw’s new proposals.
These are reasonable and proven tactics employed by many other cities to preserve freedom of speech, not hamper it. Civic and community leaders need to recognize that violent interference with peaceful protest activity will not go away without taking real action.
As a community, we need to call out violent perpetrators on the left and the right and stand up for civility. We are a nation and community made stronger by our many diverse beliefs and our ability to engage in a civil, peaceful manner.
This begins with reclaiming something these protestors are trying to take from us: a respect for each other’s views and an ability to disagree without resorting to violence.
Step up, Portland. It’s time to reclaim civility, support law enforcement and restore order in the streets of the Rose City.
P.S. I recently have acquired a new found respect for lawyers. The firm we engaged to do some remodeling sent me a contract to review and sign. It took me a week to gather the gumption to tackle reading it and even then it was horribly painful. It wasn't even very long or very complicated. Short and straight forward, but it was just agony to have to wade through it. Lawyers have to deal with this shit every day. Yes, I know, it's all their own doing, but this is world we live in, and you know that every one of those awkward phrases has been hammered out through some bitterly contested lawsuit and / or criminal trial. Thank god I don't have to deal with this kind of shit very often.