Ted Wheeler responds to City Hall protest

The mayor-elect tweeted he is committed to dialogue

A protester pepper-sprayed outside Portland City Hall, October 12, 2016 (KOIN)
A protester pepper-sprayed outside Portland City Hall, October 12, 2016 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Mayor-elect Ted Wheeler weighed in on the protests that erupted outside Portland City Hall Wednesday and said he “will engage in good faith in forums where we all feel our voices are heard.”

The protests began around noon Wednesday as the Portland City Council voted to ratify the new police union contract. Activists decried the council’s action, previously demanding the vote be delayed until Wheeler takes office in January.

Ten people were arrested and one officer was hurt during the altercation that lasted about 5 hours on the streets outside City Hall. It began when protesters tried to overwhelm City Hall and police cleared them out.

Jonny Perez in his first court appearance on charges of assaulting an officer and disorderly conduct, October 13, 2016 (KOIN)
Jonny Perez in his first court appearance on charges of assaulting an officer and disorderly conduct, October 13, 2016 (KOIN)

Of the 10 arrested, 7 were cited and released. The other 3 — Jonny Perez, Robert Lee West and Sarabeth Long, appeared in court Thursday.

Perez, 23, remains in custody facing charges of assaulting an officer and disorderly conduct.

West, 51, and the 38-year-old Long were arrested for coercion and disorderly conduct.

Protester Sara Long after a court appearance in Portland, October 13, 2016 (KOIN)
Protester Sara Long after a court appearance in Portland, October 13, 2016 (KOIN)

Long, who is something of a professional protester, said she was “no complainted”, which means authorities did not file charges now but have a year to do so. “That also happened to me in Standing Rock, North Dakota just a few weeks ago.”

“I feel like ever since I got into police accountability activism I’m part of a grind,” she told KOIN 6 News. “We get pepper-sprayed, we get false arrested for, you know, false reasons, and then they drop the charges. It’s happened to me 3 times in 3 months now.”

Organizers Micah Rhodes and Greg McElvey said they have a “massive” response planned for Friday, but wouldn’t say what that is. Even if she knew what it was, Long won’t be there.

Protester Robert Lee West after a court appearance in Portland, October 13, 2016 (KOIN)
Protester Robert Lee West after a court appearance in Portland, October 13, 2016 (KOIN)

“Honestly, I need to head back to the Mississippi River in Iowa where we’re protesting that pipeline,” she said. “I dropped in here for this because I’ve been abused by the Portland police and I’ve been part of the activism here. I personally won’t be part of it but my friends will.”

Long said the police union needs to understand their contract must have more accountability.

West said, “There’s a lot of people who were totally against that contract and the police knew it…so basically the people were against the police.”

For his part, Ted Wheeler tweeted his response Thursday in 6 consecutive tweets:

“The dialogue about policing in Portland cannot begin and end with yesterday’s contract vote. As mayor I will engage in good faith, in forums where we all feel our voices are heard and our views have a tangible effect on decision making. I have been and will be in communication with community advocates, my future colleagues on the City Council, Police Chief Marshman, PPA President Turner, and Mayor Hales. No one believes our work is complete. During my campaign, I put forward a vision for policing in Portland. I am committed to that vision. And I am dedicated to direct, inclusive engagement between elected leaders, law enforcement, and our citizens to get it done.”

KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story.

Protester Sara Long while in court on a disorderly conduct charge in Portland, October 13, 2016 (KOIN)
Protester Sara Long while in court on a disorderly conduct charge in Portland, October 13, 2016 (KOIN)