The Portland Police Bureau’s response to protest has been excessively violent and dangerous. We renew our call to end the use of chemical and impact weapons and flash bang devices against people who gather in Portland. These weapons are dangerous and continue to escalate largely peaceful situations.

The role of police is to facilitate, not disperse, peaceful protest. But in Portland for the last several years, the police consistently approach people gathered to protest against the police and white supremacy with intimidation and excessive force. Too often, police disperse dissenters, inappropriately labeling them as “rioters,” “unlawful,” or “a disturbance.” These abuses of power seem to be aimed more at chilling free speech and assembly rather than protecting these fundamental rights.

We are also appalled at the Portland Police Bureau’s repeated violence against members of the media and legal observers. The police should not be shutting down the public’s access to the messages and realities of protest in Portland’s streets. Thousands of people are gathering each day to call for an end to police violence against and murder of Black people. This message should be loudly lifted up, not squashed by militarized troops.

While it is repugnant, it is sadly unsurprising that the Portland Police Bureau’s response to protests against police brutality has been excessive, violent, and dangerous. This has been a longstanding pattern that must end. We join the protesters in calling for a new approach in our community, and demanding that we uphold the rights of people who have historically had their rights and humanity denied.

We must end the disproportionate policing, arrests, charging, prosecution, and jailing of Black people in our community. We must invest in our Black community. We must end the violent and too often deadly policing of Black people in Oregon. We must finally listen to the families and loved ones of Quanice Hayes, Christopher Kalonji, Aaron Campbell, Kendra James, and Keaton Otis who call for justice and accountability and change.


Photos of the Portland Police Bureau’s response to protests, credited to Doug Brown/ACLU of Oregon, are available online here:

A joint report from the International Network of Civil Liberties Union and Physicians for Social Change that documents the health consequences of crowd-control weapons is online here:

A June 3 letter from ACLU of Oregon Interim Legal Director Kelly Simon to Oregon mayors, city managers, and chiefs of police calling for an end to the use of tear gas, flash bangs, and other indiscriminate weapons against protesters is online here: