PORTLAND, Ore. -- The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon is calling on Portland Police to revamp their policy when it comes to responding to protests.
Specifically, the group wants police to de-escalate, show restraint and use force against protesters only as a last resort. The group says the current policy has serious flaws and will lead to even more clashes between protesters and police officers.
The ACLU also wants the city to take a closer look at the use of “crowd control” tactics, including flash-bangs, rubber bullets and the use of tear gas during protests.
“Ultimately, we want a policy that protects people's rights to go out and assemble and protest while allowing the police to do their jobs effectively and keep the city safe,” said the ACLU’s Legal Director Mat dos Santos.
Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson said the Bureau welcomes the ACLU’s suggestions, and said the goal is to protect the First Amendment rights of the protesters while maintaining public safety.
“We've already had a person shot at one of the bridges, we've had a lot of property damage, we've had people assaulted and so our role is really to try and balance everything, but the criminal behavior that comes with some of these events is our primary focus.”
The city is conducting a routine formal review of its protest policy, as it does with all city policies. The Bureau is also receiving input from business leaders and citizens. If you’d like to give your input, you can do it here.