PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland City Hall locked its doors about 2 hours before protesters planned to occupy the building in advance of a City Council vote Wednesday on the new police contract.
In a press release, the activist group Don’t Shoot PDX said they planned to arrive at City Hall at 3 p.m. and stay overnight in order to protest Wednesday. They couldn’t get in, but around 4:30 p.m. they began laying in the road on SW 4th in front of City Hall.
They only blocked the road for about 4 minutes, but they then set up tents on the plaza outside City Hall and intend to spend the night.
Last week, two protesters were arrested after a meeting got out of hand.
“After protest organizers started advertising their event as an occupy of City Hall and not just a protest the decision was made to secure the building,” Brian Worley, a spokesperson for Mayor Charlie Hales told KOIN 6 News in an e-mail.
City offices were locked at noon on Tuesday. City officials said the plan is to open City Hall prior to the regularly scheduled council meeting on Wednesday.
The Portland Police Association recently ratified a new contract with the city, but it still needs to be approved by the City Council. The activist group Don’t Shoot PDX wants the City Council to suspend that approval until Mayor-elect Ted Wheeler takes over in January.
“What I would like to see is someone who is accountable for their decisions sign this contract,” protester Ashanti Hall said.
Portland Police Chief Mike Marshman says it needs to happen now because the bureau is in crisis.
According to a document released by the Mayor’s office, the contract aims to accomplish raising salaries to make PPB more competitive with other jurisdictions, eliminate a controversial “48-hour rule” for officer involved shooting investigations, eliminates grievances against the city that could impede reform efforts and commits to creating new rules about body camera use.
The mayor’s FAQ emphasizes that the body camera policy itself is not part of this contract. That policy will be dealt with separately with input from the community.
“If we waited until the new mayor came in and the whole process of negotiating that contract, there’s a very real possibility that contract wouldn’t come online until July of next year,” Marshman told KOIN 6 News.
That would set back recruiting to fill retirements and vacancies, and, Marshman said, “we might not see the results from that until 2018.”
Marshman earlier Tuesday released a statement that the low staffing at PPB is the biggest single problem he has as the new police chief.
“Ff they want to have relationship-based policing, that takes people to do that well,” Marshman said.
Teressa Raiford with Don’t Shoot PDX says the mayor owes them a day to make statements about the contract and any modifications that are made.
She also said the contract looks “disgusting” and “a good one looks like something that’s been mandated because of the policy influence that’s happened with community engagement. Mayor Hales has an opportunity to leave a legacy of community engagement. We’re asking for that.”