In September 2007, Mayor Tom Potter chose not to renew Portland’s Drug and Prostitution Exclusion Zone ordinances.

He said his decision was based on two factors: a belief that the exclusion zones were ineffective at deterring crime, and the results of a data analysis that showed police were discriminating against African Americans in terms of enforcing the exclusions.

Potter’s decision follows years of lobbying by the ACLU of Oregon against the exclusion zones, which had been in existence for 15 years.

Exclusion zones allowed law enforcement officers to bar a person, with some exceptions, from entering an exclusion zone area for 90 days. The ACLU of Oregon opposed these civil exclusion orders because they did not have sufficient due process protections before individuals are denied the right to travel and associate freely. In particular, Portland enforced exclusion orders against people who were never prosecuted or who were found not guilty of the underlying crime that was the original reason the police gave for issuing the exclusion order.

Additionally, because these orders were civil, not criminal, a person served with an exclusion order was not entitled to a lawyer to assist in challenging the order. However, if someone violated the civil exclusion order by entering the drug-free or prostitution-free zones that person could be charged with the crime of trespassing.

In a city-commissioned report, John Campbell of Campbell DeLong Resources Inc. revealed that African Americans were excluded 68 percent of the time in all zones, compared with a 54 percent exclusion rate for whites.