Improving Police Oversight

Speaking out again for better community oversight of police

The Portland League has sent testimony to the City Council, supporting Commissioner Hardesty’s proposed charter amendment on police oversight. The City Council will discuss this proposal on Wednesday, July 29, at 3:30.

Below is an excerpt from our testimony. You can read the whole statement here.

Although we recognize that it will take more than a charter change, this proposal has the potential to bring us much closer to the type of system envisioned by the majority of Mayor Katz’s workgroup in 2000. That workgroup called for an independent civilian agency guided by a community board with the power to investigate complaints of police misconduct, compel officer testimony, and make policy recommendations to the police bureau and city council.

In addition, the League’s testimony recommends building on the successful parts of our current oversight system. We also believe that improving the current system requires input from the community.

A LOT is happening!

So many important things are happening at once! Here are links to the posts and pages about them:

Demanding Equal Rights for All

From Protests to Progress

In beautiful and mostly peaceful Portland, we have experienced many weeks of civil protests. First, demanding an end to police brutality and systemic racism. Then, also resisting unwarranted and unwanted federal intervention. And finally refocusing on demands for racial justice and police accountability. Portland and Oregon are fortunate to have many politically active and informed citizens. We need our governments to listen and to act.

Fortunately, our local, regional and state governments have paid attention to our concerns. Elected officials have begun changing some important policies and laws. We want the federal administration to also take our concerns seriously. Federal action is needed to speak out against racism and to begin healing the the years of suffering that racism has caused. (See our newer website post about ways you and the League can enact real change.)

It is a ridiculous fiction that Portland is under siege by anarchists. We regret that a few of the demonstrators have set fires, thrown fireworks and damaged statues and stores. It is also very disturbing that a counter- demonstrator was attacked and killed. However, compared to the history of lives ruined and lost to racism, the amount of damage and violence in the weeks of protests is minor. Without federal interference, it would have been even less.

What is Portland really like?

While crowds gather downtown nightly, our quiet neighborhoods are filled with signs of support. Yard signs in gardens and chalk messages on sidewalks support the demands for changes in laws and policies.

Portlanders are friendly, kind, law-abiding and interested in government. Far from being anarchists, we are politically engaged, with a high voter turnout. In the recent Primary Election, record numbers of candidates ran for office. Portland citizens participate in our government not only by voting, but also by attending town halls and issue forums. Many volunteer to work on political issues with various  nonprofits, like the League.

What the League is doing

For decades, the League of Women Voters has worked for equal rights for all Americans. We emphatically support Americans’ constitutional rights of free speech and peaceful protest, easy access to voting and equality of opportunities for jobs, housing, education and health care. We fight for justice in our courts and in law enforcement.  We celebrate the diversity of America.

Most Oregon League members are not Black, Indigenous, or other people of color. But we seek to be reliable and effective allies.  We are calling for the changes needed to bring more justice and equality to our city, state, and nation. We seek to overcome the effects of racism in Oregon and in the US, which have harmed people of color.

As many have observed, this is a challenging and difficult time. Our country is facing the kind of crises that cry out for changes in attitudes and in government actions. The League is working to help enact these changes. We do this through advocacy in the US Congress, the Oregon Legislature and before the Portland City Council. Delegates to our national (LWVUS) Convention approved the resolution quoted below and the Portland League has approved a study of Police Accountability to identify the improvements needed.

Resolution approved at the 54th National LWVUS Convention – June 27, 2020 .

We Resolve First, That the League advocates against systemic racism in the justice system and, at a minimum, for preventing excessive force and brutality by law enforcement. We also call for prompt actions by all League members to advocate within every level of government to eradicate systemic racism, and the harm that it causes;

We Resolve Second, That the League help our elected officials and all Americans recognize these truths to be self-evident; that Black, Indigenous and all people of color (BIPOC) deserve equal protection under the law; and that we demand solutions for the terrible wrongs done, so that regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, disability, and gender identity or sexual orientation we may truly become a nation “indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”.

 

 

Extension Granted for PNP!

We still have time NOW to get this on the ballot!

The Oregon Secretary of State has given the People Not Politicians Initiative Campaign more time to gather signatures. The League of Women Voters of Oregon is one of many statewide nonpartisan groups supporting this initiative. It would place redistricting reform on the November 3 General Election ballot. Please help do that. 

If you haven’t yet signed the petition, please download, sign and mail it in by August 8. Let’s make sure voters can elect representatives who truly represent their communities’ interests.  We need to end gerrymandering. Politicians should not be drawing election districts that benefit their parties. Read more about the issues and the proposal here.

In response to Secretary of State Bev Clarno’s decision, the campaign wrote:

“We are grateful the Secretary of State recognized the importance of the democratic process and the significant impacts of the pandemic on Oregonians’ ability to participate in this process,” said Norman Turrill, chair of People Not Politicians … “We will continue to collect signatures to ensure Oregon voters have a chance to bring the redistricting reform we need to end gerrymandering in Oregon once and for all.”

You can read the full statement here.

See our previous posts about People Not Politicians here and here.

Help Fight Climate Change

Opportunities for member-volunteers

The fight against climate change has become more urgent as we face hotter temperatures worldwide. You can join the League in this fight.

There are 3 ways to help from your home

1.      Observer: a few hours a month. Sign in from your computer to listen to public meetings and hearings. This is an easy way to follow a legislative policy committee, a state agency and/or a commission. Take notes and report back to the LWV of Oregon.

2.      Advocacy representative: a few hours for many weeks. As an advocacy representative, you can work with the LWVOR Natural Resources and Climate Emergency teams. You can review proposed climate-related plans. Then, help these advocacy teams influence rules and policies. The League especially  needs volunteers to help us advocate for:

      • Energy Efficient Buildings
      • Protecting Public Health
      • Capping and Reducing Industry Emissions

3.      Legislative liaison: 10-30 hours – most months. Actively participate in the legislative process. You can recommend or write testimony on bills related to your policy topic. You also could lobby legislators, and/or work with other organizations fighting climate change. (This could mean spending some time at the Capitol with other volunteers. Choose how you want to work!)

What happened earlier this year

After years of work to develop a comprehensive climate bill, the 2020 Oregon Legislative Session ended without passing the bill. On March 8, 2020, the Governor released her Climate Policy Executive Order. You can read a summary of the Oregon Climate Action Plan (OCAP) and why it matters here. Or read Renew Oregon’s quick overview of the plan. Following the governor’s order, state agencies began making plans for reducing state greenhouse gas emissions.

Where does the LWV fit in?

The League works along with many other climate organizations, through Renew Oregon. We follow and have input into the rule-making process, as agencies carry out the governor’s order. We are focused on facilitating rapid reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

The governor’s Executive Order moves the work on climate change into the work of state agencies and their commissions. Across the board, there is much to do.

New volunteers will be supported. Experienced volunteers will provide information and help.

Contact lwvor@lwvor.org to learn more and to volunteer.