Demanding Equal Rights for All

From Protests to Progress

In beautiful and mostly peaceful Portland, we have experienced almost two months of civil protests. First, demanding an end to police brutality and systemic racism. Recently, also resisting unwarranted and unwanted federal intervention. 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.

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. 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”.

 

 

Change Portland’s Government!

We have a new Position!

The Board of Directors of the Portland League has approved a new – and dramatically different – advocacy position on Portland’s City Government.

The position is the result of a thorough two-year study of Portland’s government, which led to the report shown at the left. After publishing this report, the study committee presented a panel discussion. Then, groups of League members discussed the findings and agreed upon key changes needed for Portland’s government.

The League’s new City Government position calls for major improvements in the government’s structure and also in the way voters elect the City Councilors. Here are some of our recommendations, which we will use during the City Charter Review process in 2021:

  • improve citizen representation by increasing the number of commissioners
  • institute a city manager
  • establish the City Council as a legislative or policy-setting body
  • elect some or all city councilors by district

You can read the entire new League position by clicking here.

During their two-year study, the study committee read more than 30 source documents. They also interviewed 15 government experts and city officials. Then they wrote their report, The City That Works: Preparing Portland for the Future. You can read the this report here. You may view the video of the panel discussion of Portland’s government here.

Thanks to City Council

When our government does something well, we thank them!

Promoting public involvement in government is part of our mission! In July, the League asked the Portland City Council get input from the public when they set priorities for the Portland Police Association Contract. The contract is being renewed in 2020. The Council responded by holding two community forums to learn about the public’s concerns. We are pleased and grateful that they have begun a process to inform and involve the public.

So we sent a follow-up letter thanking them. We also urged them to continue to engage the public. You can read our July letter here and our November letter of appreciation here.

We have also made some suggestions for improvements in the Portland Police Bureau’s new Community Engagement Plan. You can read our post about that here.

Watch Juvenile Justice Highlights

How can we improve justice for teens who commit crimes – and improve public safety? This 21-minute video has excerpts from a panel discussion on juvenile justice. You can hear the most important points made by the panel. Learn about the impact Measure 11 (passed by Oregon voters in 1994) has had on teens. Recent research shows how Oregon could make changes to help young offenders become law-abiding adults after their release.

Just Updated: Multnomah Co. Directory of Elected Officials!

Let your Representatives know what you think

2017-19 LWVPDX DEO Update-7-1-18Here is the complete up-to-date list you can use to contact the elected government officials who represent you: from President Trump to your state senator to a director of your Soil and Water Conservation District. These officials were elected to serve you and your fellow citizens.  You have a right to tell them how you think they can make government more responsive to your or society’s needs.

How to use this directory

You can download a copy of this Directory and save it on your computer. Or print it for your reference. Use it to look up the email or mailing addresses and phone numbers of your elected officials.  Then you can write or call them with your concerns.