On November 3rd, the Portland Police Alliance issued this statement to the people of Portland and the Occupy Portland movement:
Enough is Enough
Portland, ORE – November 3, 2011 –
To the Citizens of Portland:
The 900 members of the Portland Police Association are members of a union that advocates for jobs, fair wages, benefits, work conditions, and pensions. We are truly, as are you, members of the 99% of Americans that work every day for a living. We believe in, and support, the rights of citizens to free speech, including the right to protest and march, as long as it is within the confines of the City, County, and State laws. We have sworn an oath to protect the Constitutional rights of all citizens, regardless of race, creed, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or economic background. What we cannot do is condone what the Occupy Portland protest has become. This protest has become a seemingly open checkbook of taxpayer dollars to pay for an already over-extended Police Bureau. Staffing hours and resources have been pushed past the limits of reality. Crime, drugs, and health issues plague the two park blocks that the new residents have taken. It has already cost the taxpaying citizens of Portland over $200,000 dollars just for Police resources and it will undoubtedly cost tens of thousands of dollars to clean up the garbage, damage, and illegal structures that the new residents of the parks will leave behind.
In the past few weeks, Portland Police officers have worked long hours, shown great resolve, and out-performed their duties under seemingly unimaginable circumstances. We have responded to the mixed messages of our leaders and have held our heads up through the adversity that we have neither caused nor can control. Now, Portland Police officers are being assaulted and threatened by protesters which also puts our citizens at risk. We need to be able to do our jobs, and protect the rights and safety of every citizen. The Police Commissioner has the ability and the duty to see that this is done.
I am personally calling on you, the other 99% of the citizens of Portland, to have your voices heard. The 99% who cannot sit on a park bench and read a book, or have your lunch, or just enjoy a nice autumn day. The 99% who has had to avoid what the parks have become while walking to lunch, work, or taking a coffee break. The 99% whose children are in area day-care centers who have had to take extra security measures. And the 99% who are business owners whose businesses are surviving from month to month in this volatile economy.
You need to contact your City leaders and let them hear from you. The 99% who are not violating the trespass laws and camping laws. The 99% who are not in violation of park rules and City Codes on structures, food handling, and garbage dumping. The 99% who are not costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in Police Bureau resources and potentially tens of thousands of dollars in damages to the parks and clean-up cost whenever this is over. If the Occupy Portland movement has a message, let it be heard, but not at the cost of taxpayer’s dollars, Police resources, and the damage it has done to the citizens and business owners who are a large majority of the 99%.
If nothing else, this gets more people talking and requesting action from their officials and each other. The problem I see with this is something I have noticed a lot, especially within America (but this might be because I am biased because I am from there and so, have more experience with that culture) people don’t know how to have respectful discourse. We can too often find ways to separate ourselves from each other and seem encouraged to do so frequently rather than take time to discover common ground. This makes me think of W.E.B. DuBois who believed that capitalism was a leading cause of racism and keeping people separated and oppressed. I think he was onto something.
From afar it is apparent that tensions have been building between the city, its police and the Occupy Protestors. Oregonlive.com writer Ray Whitehouse quotes Bob Downing, maintenance supervisor for the city Parks and Recreation Department, who estimates that the cost to clean up and repair the two squares where protesters were camped is estimated to cost $50,000, which will “… require a host of structural repairs, graffiti removal and landscaping ” to return the parks to their previous condition. On November 14th the parks were closed indefinitely for repairs. This comes, as far as I am aware on top of the cost of overtime for the Portland Police, which “in addition to $300,000 in overtime in the past month, costs to the city for policing this past weekend were $450,000” claims local new station KGW.