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Would more bike cops and fewer riot cops lead to peaceful protests?

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 18th, 2011 at 10:08 am

The face of a front-line officer at yesterday's protest.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Our story about cops on bikes at the Occupy Portland protests yesterday has sparked a dialogue (that's happening citywide, not just on BikePortland) about the size and style of force the City of Portland is bringing to these events.

In a comment on our story yesterday, former PPB bicycle liaison officer and noted community advocate Robert Pickett explained the reason for riot gear. "Jonathon [sic]," wrote Pickett, "the officers in riot gear are not there to respond to people like you, or most of the protesters at any demonstration. That is one of the reasons why this critique comes so often, I believe — most of the protestors are not there to attack or injure officers, so it is hard for them to understand the need for heavily armored officers."

Pickett went on to share that police are prepping for the "small minority who mingle among the peaceful protestors."

"As a bicycle-mounted officer at some of these protests," he continued, "on more than one occasion I was happy to have the more heavily equipped officers close by when an altercation unexpectedly broke out"

It's an important discussion to have and we hope Police Chief Reese and Mayor Adams are listening and thinking about it. The two photos below help illustrate the point.

First, a bicycle officer at the protests yesterday...

(Photo © J. Maus)

And here's an officer in full riot gear (taken at the same protest)...

(Photo: My friend PJ)

Yes, police need to be prepared and protected. But as we've seen, things turn ugly when communication breaks down and emotions take over. It's just a hunch, but it seems if you have more officers on bikes and on foot that aren't covered in riot gear, you'd have the opportunity for more productive interactions, less tension — and therefore a lower chance for the horrible incidents that happened yesterday.

What do you think?

Of course, as this video (taken yesterday) shows, just because cops are on bikes doesn't mean unfortunate incidents will go away completely.

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  • chad November 18, 2011 at 10:19 am

    I agree with you until a bike cop does this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9Tbge3ToaA&feature=youtu.be For the most part, the city has done things better than other cities, but there are still way too many riot police in the streets for the amount of "problems" that opdx has caused.

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    • q`Tzal November 18, 2011 at 10:51 am

      On the whole having an identifiable face on a police officer reduces the odds that an otherwise violent cop will act out.
      The anonimity of a faceshield, and by extension automotive windshield, offers the opportunity to commit atrocities without individual blame.

      I kinda like the idea of dressing all police riot gear up to look like Barney the Dinosaur but I expect that might lead to some extra violence.

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      • jeff November 18, 2011 at 12:12 pm

        how about a bandanna or a theater mask?

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        • q`Tzal November 18, 2011 at 2:11 pm

          Pure psychology: given a situation where an anonymous person will not be held accountable for their actions empathy and ethics far too often are disregarded and people act as thuggish and brutal as the do in video games.

          Police officers whose personal identities are shrouded by obstructive face shields are much more likely too abuse the power they have.

          In addition: if we want to keep these situations social, on a human level, and not mechanistic responses to robotic stormtroopers it is advantageous for protesters to see the facial expressions of the police officers. This way protestors know just how much they have pissed off this human in a police uniform.

          As for a bandana or theater mask:
          I try to imaging how much more or less effective that street clearing would have been if all of the riot geared police were in 7 foot tall riot gear rated Hello Kitty costumes. A solid wall of angry, rushing, cute white furry riot control officers. There has got to be some way to mitigate the explosive rage level at these situations, maybe stupid silly costumes?

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        • sorebore November 18, 2011 at 2:49 pm

          The women was knock over by our fine public servant.She seems to be trying to stay ahead of the crowd. The Boy In Blue decides to take her out from behind. I call this chicken poo poo!!!! We have no idea from this video if any provocation happened down the street, so we are led to wonder why. IMO, This is the problem with letting humans become police officers.
          "Armys for the RICH, they'll throw you in the ditch!"
          MDC
          And in response to the bandanna, I would not need one to face a riot squad. The woman in this video is not wearing one, and if the situation were to escalate, Is this the type of person you would want in clad riot gear??
          "A Pig is a Pig, and that's that."
          Plasmatics

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          • 9watts November 18, 2011 at 2:53 pm

            "We have no idea from this video if any provocation happened down the street, so we are led to wonder why."
            There is a rather abrupt scuffle between the two in the first few seconds. It is difficult to make out the details, but the cop with the thrusting bike and the woman with the long hair who ends up splayed in the street had just engaged in some unfriendly exchange immediately prior.

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    • Alan 1.0 November 18, 2011 at 11:58 am

      Another angle on that incident is here and while I still can't see enough to understand exactly what happened, it is clear that there was conflict between that protester and the police before she was knocked down by the bike cop. (The music coming in at 2:30 is perfect! Anyone know if that is dubbed or did someone actually play it at the scene? Anyway, someone should have it handy to play at the next march!)

      q'Tzal mentioned anonymity and identifiability. I think the riot cops have numbers on the back of their helmets, but individual identification should be visible from the front and sides, too. Those are angles that citizen observers are more likely to document if/when abusive force is used.

      Yes, Jonathon, I agree that using riot cops too soon escalates into a much worse situation, and that has happened several times in recent Occupy Portland protests.

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      • q`Tzal November 18, 2011 at 2:19 pm

        Love the Star Wars Imperial March being piped in late in that video!

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        • sorebore November 18, 2011 at 3:20 pm

          I cannot here the that,... but I do here the delightful comment from the bicycle cop.."What's wrong with you people? Let's get it (keep) it goin'"
          Oh so helpful he is.
          He appears to be Office Smiley in J.M's first photo.

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          • sorebore November 18, 2011 at 3:23 pm

            hear not here !! oops!!! :) God, I gotta get some lunch and go ride my bike!!! peace out, everyone!

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          • q`Tzal November 18, 2011 at 3:44 pm

            At 2:13 in we hear the female PA voice ordering people,
            at 2:29 we hear the very first note of a the Imperial March out of something with poor fidelity but lots of volume.

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  • 9watts November 18, 2011 at 10:47 am

    military style occupations of what is still civilian infrastructure and not a war zone is unhelpful. Let's not discount the plausible effect on those the police seem to think are 'out for a fight' of showing up in garb that suggests they too came for a fight. Occupy Portland, and even kids with bandanas aren't out to start a war. Why spend taxpayer dollars we don't even have to make it look like a war?

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    • SJ November 18, 2011 at 12:56 pm

      Ridiculous. This isn't tanks on the street, isn't Marshall law, isn't barbed wire and M16's. They're simply wearing black uniforms no more meaningful than hockey or football pads to keep themselves safe so they can protect you from the bad elements in the crowds (and those bad elements exist). Ever been to an actual military occupation?

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      • Natalie November 18, 2011 at 1:14 pm

        Sorry, I'm gonna call BS. Riot police aren't just civilians in hockey gear. When I visited the protests the other day, they had their batons out, guns on the second line, decked head to toe in armor, vans, motorcycles, horses, helicopters, and they had cut off all routes except for one so that all the protestors and onlookers felt trapped and intimidated.

        And by the way, they're the ones who get freaked out when kids start showing up decked out in all black and with bandannas on their faces.

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        • SJ November 18, 2011 at 1:50 pm

          You're right; they are not civilians. But let's say they aren't there. No cops are there. You get pelted with a brick because some very small minority anarchist decides to throw one. The crowd goes crazy, you're on the ground, bleeding. You need medical attention, now. Do you want someone who has protected himself from such an attack to come to your aid? Maybe get you to an ambulance? Maybe arrest the anarchist who assaulted you? We see what we want to see. I have friends who are cops, anarchists, hippies, lawyers, business owners. I was on crutches the other day, and a "friendly" protester got in my face because he thought I was a bank employee or something; an officer basically got in between us and looked at him like Hey, this guy is on crutches and vulnerable. Maybe step back? He did this in riot gear. He wasn't a robot. It takes more than "calling BS" to see that humans are human and can show restraint, be provoked, help, hinder or otherwise depending on their history, training, opinions, etc.

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          • bikeyvol November 18, 2011 at 3:22 pm

            Would have to agree that cops and protesters are people first, regardless of their outward appearance. It always focuses on the few bad apples in the bunch and it seems that unsuspecting people get caught in the middle. Nobody wins.

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        • sorebore November 18, 2011 at 2:53 pm

          I second you...

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          • sorebore November 18, 2011 at 2:55 pm

            Natalie , that is.

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  • PedInPDX November 18, 2011 at 10:59 am

    100% agree. From my own personal exp., there's a palpable difference in atmosphere & crowd response b/t the two presences. If protesters showed up en masse with makeshift weapons, the latter response would be entirely justified. But honestly, whenever PPB deploys dozens of robocops, it puts everyone--police, protesters and bystanders alike--on edge. (Not to mention the serious financial commitment to bring in riot police, and their trucks/cruisers/motorcycles from four separate counties, in terms of both labor, maintenance & fuel costs.) Contrast the first OP march with more recent events. Before, PPB bike police were facilitators for peaceful march (that included the mayor). Now every time a march occurs they treat it like a full-blown terrorist action.

    Psychologically speaking, it boils down to this: it's much easier to approach, reason with, sympathize with and listen to instructions from someone on a bike resembling a bumblebee than someone decked out in Darth Vader garb.

    This dichotomy even plays itself out in terms of physical space. What force of police is more likely to facilitate both protest & safe flow of traffic? Not police hanging off trucks or on motorcycles or in bulky riot gear standing in the street, but ones with their own speedy, nimble & compact "jetpack" (to borrow the BTA phrase).

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  • 9watts November 18, 2011 at 11:10 am

    quote of the day, PedInPDX!
    "someone on a bike resembling a bumblebee than someone decked out in Darth Vader garb."

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  • Hugh Johnson November 18, 2011 at 11:16 am

    There is an element here that hates the police no matter what uniform they are in.

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    • 9watts November 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm

      I can't imagine why. Can you?

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      • SJ November 18, 2011 at 12:57 pm

        Ever call a cop when you've needed one?

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        • Natalie November 18, 2011 at 1:17 pm

          Yeah, and it's sad that the same people who we call to protect us spray us in the face with tear gas and ram us with horses for exercising our first amendment right to protest.

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          • SJ November 18, 2011 at 1:55 pm

            That's not why those actions are taking place. Be honest with yourself if no one else. Are they spraying you in the face with tear gas BECAUSE they hate it when you voice your first amendment-rights protected opinion? or is it because they have given numerous warnings that you are indeed blocking the street and have provoked the encounter? I know, because of my employment, of at least three instances of ambulances being prevented from getting to hospitals yesterday because of Occupy traffic. How does knowing that you possibly contributed to someone dying from a heart attack in the back of an ambulance because they couldn't get to needed medical care strike you?

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            • 9watts November 18, 2011 at 2:06 pm

              SJ -
              please! cops only use pepper spray after repeatedly being provoked. You go to different demonstrations than the ones I've been to. And what is with the wildly speculative 'protesters blocked ambulances and someone died from a heart attack' scenario? Haven't you heard here repeatedly that the ones blocking traffic yesterday were those wearing turtle costumes?
              Don't lose sight of the White Rabbit.

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          • sorebore November 18, 2011 at 3:26 pm

            Can I have an amen, Sister?

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          • JRB November 18, 2011 at 4:18 pm

            I already had a long post on Maus' other story as to what I observed yesterday during the confrontation between police and protestors at 6th and Yamhill around 4:30. Nobody got pepper sprayed because they were protesting. One cop discharged some pepper spray because protestors were pushing and shoving the cops who were trying to clear Yamhill street so Max and traffic could get by. As I said before, I support the protests, but I don't support people blocking the street to prevent other members of the 99% from going about their business. This includes my coworker, another occupy supporter, who needed to leave to pick up her sick child from daycare and was delayed by people blocking the street. From what I observed, the police did not once try to stop somebody from exercising their freedom of speech.

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            • peejay November 18, 2011 at 4:51 pm

              And, do you know why the protesters were in the street? They were pushed off the sidewalk onto the street by the riot cops. They were trying to return to the sidewalk.

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              • JRB November 18, 2011 at 5:07 pm

                BS. I saw the incident with my own eyes from 9th floor of a building directly overlooking the square. There were no cops on the sidewalk pushing people into the street. Look at the picture taken by the Oregonian of the poor woman getting hit with the jet of pepper spray. There are no cops behind her or anyone behind her.

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    • PedInPDX November 18, 2011 at 12:25 pm

      There is an element everywhere that does so, in and out of demonstrations. The vast majority of Occupy Portland expressly realizes the PPB is part of the 99%, an idea that is repeatedly put forth and repeatedly reinforced through popular support. When the police turn out to facilitate freedom of expression, they are welcomed. When they turn out in all black with their faces obscured by masks and faceshields, with 3-foot long batons, riot-control weaponry, Kevlar and black jackboots, is it any wonder why it puts protesters on edge?

      If you were correct about your characterization, why then is one of the most popular chants at protests in Portland, "You're sexy, you're cute, take off your riot suit"? Protesters will and DO respond differently depending on how police show up equipped to respond to our right to peaceably assemble.

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    • sorebore November 18, 2011 at 3:07 pm

      Hello Hugh, It's me... You know, you don't have to hate 'em to wonder why they act out the way SOME OF THEM do when they think they can get away with somethin'!! Go to the first post today and check out the video, then get back to us. I can only guess, but I am sure my situations with cops and yours are vastly different on so many levels. I do not hate them per say, and some have shown me grace at times when they did not have to, but I have witnessed countless abuses at he hands of VIOLENT cops, seen friends laying in comas,and other situations beyond the scope of this blog. No, we may not hate them. We just can't always trust 'em.

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  • Andrew Holtz November 18, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Anyone else notice the similarity of police riot gear face shield & car windshield?

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    • PedInPDX November 18, 2011 at 11:40 am

      I didn't make the connection at first, but it's so true. Both give illusion of physical detachment, leading to real emotional detachment... I see it in motorist behavior all the time in town. But as the Modest Mouse lyric goes, "You're not invisible inside your car." And neither are the riot police behind their faceshields.

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    • jeff November 18, 2011 at 12:13 pm

      ya, I believe they're both designed to protect one's vision from projectiles.

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  • kerry November 18, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Not to mention the stifling effect on freedom of expression. I like bike cops; they're friendly, approachable, with nonthreateningly cheerful jackets and nerdy rack trunks. But as a "normal" citizen if I see riot cops, I'm OUTTA there. No march for me. Unless I'm protesting something immediately high-stakes (like we're about to start shipping folk off to internment camps or something) I'm not taking a chance on random arrests, water cannons, and a face full of riot grade pepper spray. I think a lot of people would stay away from an action that they stand behind to avoid interacting with riot police.

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  • 9watts November 18, 2011 at 11:52 am

    It is worth noting that the militarization of our local police force is part of a much broader longstanding nationwide trend. Christian Parenti's book Lockdown America is a good start down that road.
    http://www.christianparenti.com/reviews/lockdown_monthly.html

    an excerpt from this review:
    "• Police Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams. Los Angeles created the first SWAT team in 1966. There are thirty-thousand such units today. SWAT’s serve as the vanguard of militarizing the police, with weapons such as assault rifles, armored vehicles, attack dogs, and helicopters—all too often accompanied by a commando mentality that makes all Black and Latino people the enemy. While providing some grisly examples of overkill, Parenti emphasizes the broader function of intimidating entire communities."

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    • Mike November 18, 2011 at 12:54 pm

      I recall an incident in Hollywood, 1997, that had a direct impact on the militarization of our police forces.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Hollywood_shootout

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      • 9watts November 18, 2011 at 1:28 pm

        Yeah, let's have an arms race. See how that turns out for everyone.

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        • JRB November 18, 2011 at 4:23 pm

          Really, your answer to criminals with military weaponry is for the cops to hold hands and sing kum-bah-yah? If you are instead suggesting we do more to keep such weapons out of the hands of criminals, I'm with you 100%.

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          • 9watts November 18, 2011 at 4:26 pm

            Yes to disarmament. And no need to have it be unilateral. I suspect there will be time for kum-ba-ya later.

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            • JRB November 18, 2011 at 4:34 pm

              Agreed, if guns weren't so cheap and easy to come by in this country, we might be able to do without armed police, although I remember somebody saying that violence is American as apple pie, which makes me think that an America where the majority of guns are only used responsibly for sporting purposes may be a pipe dream.

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  • wsbob November 18, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Portland's bike cops can do a lot of good, practical tasks, and their friendly appearance and demeanor is a definite PR asset.

    In the event though, that a demonstrator instigated dangerous incident breaks out and police are obliged to intervene and break it up, bike cops aren't the guys that should be expected to endure that level of danger. Bike cops aren't equipped with adequate gear for that type of danger.

    I don't buy the rationale that mere presence of police in protective gear incites peaceful demonstrators to violent action. There's a bit of irony in people complaining about the number of riot police brought out, when it turns out after the fact that the riot police didn't actually have to do anything much but stand around.

    So they won't have to do anything, is partly why they're brought out. Of course, if worse comes to worse, they're there and ready.

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    • sw resident November 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm

      Police in Great Britain do not even carry guns. In August 2011 the London protests turned into full blown riots and looting. A combination of government inaction, a lack of a credible threat of the use of even non-lethal force, and in some areas a complete absence of police, contributed to the riots lasting 5 days. This exacted a massive economic and social cost. In London the rioters knew their actions would not be met in kind or with any significant push back and so managed to destroy whole neighborhoods fro days on end. The traditional English community policing model of the neighborhood bobby did not work in this situation.

      I agree with wsbob. One of the arguments so often employed by those who take issue with the riot gear is that it "provokes" otherwise peaceful people to act violently and "makes" them uncomfortable. (If this were true then London would have remained an idyllic city of tea-sippers). This is what psychologists refer to as a person having an external locus of control: the world "forces" you to do things. If you interpret the presence of Portland police in riot gear, who have used non-lethal force only once in the course of two months, as scary and aggressive and making you prone to aggression then ask yourself why. Take responsibility for your actions and responses to stimuli - 99% of the protesters did not act aggressively or get pepper sprayed.

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      • 9watts November 18, 2011 at 12:28 pm

        cops in turtle suits don't make me aggressive, but their overwhelming and uncalled for presence works against out best democratic instincts. It creates an atmosphere wherein those who would protest are made to feel like this is a war zone. Many stay home. This is not the fault of the few kids with bandanas, even if the powers that be would like us to think so.

        As for London, don't blame that on the Bobbies. Remember Watts? Rodney King? Chicago?
        Oh, I forgot, you probably think those who are upset with how things are should express their displeasure at the voting booth.

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        • sw resident November 18, 2011 at 12:48 pm

          Expressing displeasure at the voting booth is likely more effective than looting large and family-owned stores, burning and smashing up your neighbor's cars, setting fire to your neighbor's houses without regard for who might be inside (and don't forget that includes children and pets), and generally terrorizing the neighborhood.

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          • 9watts November 18, 2011 at 12:53 pm

            and those are the only two options, yes? Thanks for your insights. Very nuanced.
            Fortunately many of our fellow citizens think that direct action, civil disobedience, protest is precisely what is called for because voting at the national level certainly has ceased to inspire.

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        • wsbob November 18, 2011 at 1:33 pm

          "cops in turtle suits don't make me aggressive, but their overwhelming and uncalled for presence works against out best democratic instincts. It creates an atmosphere wherein those who would protest are made to feel like this is a war zone. Many stay home. ..."

          If the public is staying away, it's more likely they're staying away from some of the demonstrators that may be intent on initiating or escalating a confrontation. Standing clear of the demonstrators that are getting right up close to the riot cops is what most people are going to be doing.

          Don't even have to stand that far away. 20'-25' is probably going to be good enough in most situations.

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          • 9watts November 18, 2011 at 1:39 pm

            wsbob,
            from your remarks I don't get the impression that you go to that many demonstrations. I can't recall one protest in 25 years, when those present were cowed by the "demonstrators that may be intent on initiating or escalating a confrontation." I realize we are talking about those not present and whether it is the over-armored turtle cops or some other group that discourages them from participating, but extrapolating from the mood on the ground I'm having a hard time agreeing with you.

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            • wsbob November 18, 2011 at 7:20 pm

              I can't account for your recollection.

              It certainly seems as though there were more than enough people willing to make up the crowd that included the woman refusing to clear the street or distance herself from the riot cops, who subsequently gave her a blast of pepper spray.

              Who are the 'those who would protest' that you think is choosing not to come to the demonstrations due to the presence of riot cops there? I think that's essentially what you said:

              "...It creates an atmosphere wherein those who would protest are made to feel like this is a war zone. Many stay home. ..." 9watts

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              • 9watts November 22, 2011 at 9:11 pm

                wsbob
                "Who are the 'those who would protest' that you think is choosing not to come to the demonstrations due to the presence of riot cops there? "

                here is one answer:

                "Every time the citizenry watches peaceful protesters getting pepper-sprayed — or hears that an Occupy protester suffered brain damage and almost died after being shot in the skull with a rubber bullet — many become increasingly fearful of participating in this citizen movement, and also become fearful in general of exercising their rights in a way that is bothersome or threatening to those in power. That’s a natural response, and it’s exactly what the climate of fear imposed by all abusive police state actions is intended to achieve: to coerce citizens to “decide” on their own to be passive and compliant — to refrain from exercising their rights — out of fear of what will happen if they don’t.

                The genius of this approach is how insidious its effects are: because the rights continue to be offered on paper, the citizenry continues to believe it is free. They believe that they are free to do everything they choose to do, because they have been “persuaded” — through fear and intimidation — to passively accept the status quo. As Rosa Luxemburg so perfectly put it: “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.” Someone who sits at home and never protests or effectively challenges power factions will not realize that their rights of speech and assembly have been effectively eroded because they never seek to exercise those rights; it’s only when we see steadfast, courageous resistance from the likes of these UC-Davis students is this erosion of rights manifest."
                from this article: http://www.salon.com/2011/11/21/chancellor_katehis_impressive_learning_skills/

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  • esther c November 18, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    The bikes make a great nonthreatening tool for keep the streets clear etc. Occasionally officers used them inappropriately.

    The riot police seemed excessive to me. I saw the bike police able to clear out the streets in minutes with or without the riot police so I wasn't sure why they were there.

    Considering the large amount of mentally ill who have gotten involved with the Occupy movement its amazing that there aren't more problems in large marches like this. Its all the more reason for large numbers of people to get out there and join to help keep thinks cool and police fellow marchers, reminding them that it is a peaceful demonstration.

    I saw many instances of fellow marchers intervening when protesters for no reason, got up into cops faces, and were haranguing them. I intervened a few times myself. Just said, hey, thats not cool, this is a peaceful protest, leave that guy alone.

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    • PedInPDX November 18, 2011 at 12:29 pm

      Right on, Esther. I've acted similarly in certain circumstances since protests began in October, and the results often prove that cooler heads can prevail.

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  • BURR November 18, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Y'all are living in some kind of fantasy world, the bike cops can get just as nasty as the riot cops, and they do.

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  • JF November 18, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Of Course bicycle police more non-theatening compared to riot gear police. Ask any three year old.

    However, the reason riot police are called is if there is a credible threat to the city and its citizens. Personally, I do think the N17 was more hostile compared to the first occupy march.

    Despite the N17 being advertised as a non-violent event, there were still messages surrounding the event that made me question the intention of the event itself. Examples: a swarm of bikes to be pesky, a sit in on banks, action committees, organized training about what to do if confronted/arrested, etc...

    The N17 organizers were prepared for police action, so the police were prepared to handle whatever the N17 was going to be. Something along the lines of "the best laid plans of mice and men..."

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    • BURR November 18, 2011 at 5:18 pm

      whatever, an expectation of non-violent civil disobedience does not justify or require riot cops, they just escalate the situation.

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      • wsbob November 19, 2011 at 6:05 pm

        BURR
        whatever, an expectation of non-violent civil disobedience does not justify or require riot cops, they just escalate the situation.
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        Okay...go on and tell us how you think the presence of riot cops at the demonstrations escalate whatever situation it is you're referring to.

        So far at least at the Occupy related demonstrations, the SWAT equipped cops don't seem to have done any escalating.

        Some of what they have been doing, is repelling certain demonstrators that have been employing divisive tactics that take advantage of vulnerable citizens, such as in...invading bank lobbies and streets, the result being that people are delayed in conducting business at the bank and getting where they need to go on the street.

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        • BURR November 19, 2011 at 8:28 pm

          you haven't seen any of this personally, have you?

          I thought so.

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          • wsbob November 20, 2011 at 11:22 am

            By now, hundreds of thousands of people have in various forms, personally seen certain OP demonstrators not simply peacefully gathering and expressing their views in public, but badgering and harassing working citizens and the people employed to protect them and everyone else that's trying to go about their business.

            burr...if you've got something of substance to say...just say it and try thinking about rising above posting simple minded remarks.

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            • BURR November 23, 2011 at 3:10 pm

              People who are more concerned about getting to work on time than on the larger social, economic and political issues affecting our country today are part of the problem and not part of the solution; and American apathy is a the 900 po9und gorilla in the room in this case.

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              • wsbob November 23, 2011 at 4:07 pm

                People that are apathetic about what government and business is and isn't doing, is a problem.

                Especially with economic times not being good, and jobs being far and few between, I think that people that have jobs find it extremely important to be able to get to those jobs to keep them. This is something that people working with or choosing to be involved with OP need to recognize if they expect to sustain public support for their efforts to correct business practices that are harmful to many people forced to get by on meager incomes.

                Something constructive that OP might consider doing more of, is to help people understand what the heck the Glass–Steagall Act is, and why some people think tossing it out contributed to big economic problems, not just in the U.S. but around the world.

                Fewer symbolic arrests in bank lobbies attended by black clouds of very expensive to deploy riot police and instead, perhaps more street theater helping people get interested in understanding what sounds by the name Glass–Steagall, to be boring, boring, boring...but is probably a key part in the very complicated economic situation that has allowed people to be ripped off and put out of work.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass-Steagall_Act

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      • JF November 28, 2011 at 11:17 am

        BURR, you missed my point. Despite the N17 event being advertised as non-violent, the mixed message surrounding the even made me question the motives of the N17 itself. In general, yes, you are correct, but in regards to the N17, it had the initial appearence of being more violent compared to other events advertised/promoted as being related to Occupy.

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  • Dave Cary November 19, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    "voting has ceased to inspire" It's more often the case that voting has ceased. Our pitiful voting turnouts suggest that a whole lot of people are not giving voting a chance to effect an outcome. Besides, voting is not nearly as sexy and exciting as massing in the streets and yelling at the top of our lungs and refusing to listen to anybody who doesn't feel exactly like you do.

    And what exactly is it that these protesters really want the City of Portland to do? I mean, WHAT do they want? I am with them on my unhappiness with the mess of our country that has been made by Wall Street and the banks and lawyers. But WHAT do they want the City of Portland to do about it, and if they did, would they shut up and go home? Probably not, because then there would be another injustice that needed immediate attention. Let's face it: there is no shortage of injustices if that's all you want to see.

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  • Paul in the 'couve November 19, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    The Atlantic - article on how the police became militarized

    This is giving me a lot to think about concerning this issue. I generally support the city and the cops in keeping the crowds under control and think they have done overall a great job, and I've defended the police use of riot shields, but this article is getting me to think about the issue differently

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    • wsbob November 22, 2011 at 1:39 am

      A Washington Post article (link below) has a wider range of perspective on the UC Davis pepper spraying than the Alantic article. It leans more towards reporting rather than the editorializing of the Atlantic article.

      The WP article quotes law enforcement consultants that allude to the current feeling in law enforcement circles, that pepper spray is less harmful to resistant people than is physically grabbing them.

      "...Charles J. Kelly, a former Baltimore Police Department lieutenant who wrote the department’s use of force guidelines, said pepper spray is a “compliance tool” that can be used on subjects who do not resist, and is preferable to simply lifting protesters.

      “When you start picking up human bodies, you risk hurting them,” Kelly said. “Bodies don’t have handles on them.” ..."

      What's the general public think about what Kelley says regarding pepper spray? Familiarity with being pepper sprayed isn't probably near as common as being physically handcuffed and hauled off.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/video-shows-police-using-pepper-spray-on-line-of-seated-protesters-at-uc-davis/2011/11/19/gIQAhtzjbN_story.html

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  • 9watts November 19, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Well, now isn't that interesting.
    Mike Reese is listening. Good for him!

    found here: http://www.portlandonline.com/police/pbnotify.cfm?action=ViewContent&content_id=2621
    "This may be an opportunity for us to collectively take a pause and reassess the way the police and protestors have been approaching this situation, to find a uniquely Portland solution. Today, we tried something new. Our Incident Commander Mike Leloff met with protestors before a march and asked if they wanted a police escort. When they told him no, he asked that they self-police their event and obey the law; police would only respond if there were complaints. The march participants agreed, and the event proceeded without any problems, or a police presence.

    This is a model of cooperation that we could build upon for future events, and I want to thank today's marchers for making this possible. We all share a responsibility for public safety and respecting the rights of everyone in our community. I look forward to further dialogue with Mayor Sam Adams and Occupy Portland protestors about how we can maintain a safe and welcoming

    community, while respecting the right to free speech."

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    • wsbob November 19, 2011 at 11:14 pm

      "...he asked that they self-police their event and obey the law; police would only respond if there were complaints. ..." police chief Mike Reece

      This should work out as long as OP demonstrators can manage to at least try and demonstrate without provoking complaints. Helping accomplish this would probably include demonstrators deciding not to try camp in city parks, or march into places such as shopping malls and banks to interrupt service and be arrested.

      This evening, I saw part of Reece's appearance on KGW's 'Straight Talk'. His answers to questions were more reasonable than not.

      Glad that he offered up an apology fairly quickly for getting the story wrong about why the dept failed to have its officers meet the assault victim at the appointed time, keeping her waiting...for three hours. Not getting the facts right when trying to make the kind of point he was trying to make is a serious mistake.

      I'm curious about the details of the three hour wait for the police this person experienced. Were the police in contact with her at least some time during the three hour period, explaining to her why they weren't showing up? I hope so. The nature of the type of assault and its effect on the victim, should make responding to victims willingness to come forward about such a crime, a fairly high priority.

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      • Kristen November 21, 2011 at 10:46 am

        It was a three-hour wait for police to show up to an incident that happened 2 days prior. Dispatch sent it to the precinct, who looked at ALL the facts and decided it wasn't priority 1. Police went out on that call as soon as they could.

        Once I knew the facts of the matter, it didn't seem as though the police OR the occupiers did anything wrong or out of the ordinary.

        I'm glad that the Chief is willing to let the occupiers self-police, and that the occupiers are taking it seriously.

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        • wsbob November 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm

          "It was a three-hour wait for police to show up to an incident that happened 2 days prior. Dispatch sent it to the precinct, who looked at ALL the facts and decided it wasn't priority 1. Police went out on that call as soon as they could. ..." Kristen

          In this day of electronic communication, it probably didn't happen, but since it wasn't reported otherwise, I couldn't help imagine this person possibly sitting by themselves in a fast food restaurant for 3 hrs, waiting for the police to show up. Hopefully, they were in touch with her during the 3 hr time period, letting her know they were being held up, so she could be off doing other things, or at least not having to hang around there. Not everyone has cell phones though.

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  • Chrehn November 20, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Being a cop is a demanding and stressful job. It takes a unique person to be a good cop. The bad cops need to be weeded out.

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  • Jonah November 21, 2011 at 11:40 am

    There was not a single police officer present after we left the Saturday Market area and there was no issues whatsoever, aside from people crossing the street and having to wait in the crosswalk for a few seconds after the light changed to wait for the crowd to move forward. At least one media outlet called that an exception to the non-violent nature of the protest. Watch out pedestrians! If you get caught in the crosswalk after the orange hand stops blinking you're behaving violently!

    The bike swarm did a very good job helping keep people on the sidewalk too! I see the bike swarm as an extremely useful group for future protests if the reduced police presence continues!

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  • jeremy November 21, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    I appreciate the insightful article that Paul in the 'couv linked to in his post. I have to ask, of the people who are supporting the intensification of the militarized, weaponized, armored response to a citizen's protest how you will feel when you are no longer on the side of the authority? Ever since 9/11 we have seen a chipping away at our citizen rights and an increased police presence (at the airport, through the PATRIOT act, etc) which, while it seems justified now, can easily come back to haunt us. If we allow the police to overreact based on the possibility of violence/destruction, what is keeping them from always using that as justification? What appears as a minor inconvenience to many, at the airport, for instance, has led to some very serious ethnic/racial profiling targeting Muslim-American citizens. What will the police have to do in order for us to be alarmed they have gone too far? I for one would trade the minor inconvenience of traffic delays in order to ensure our right to protest, speak and gather are preserved. I will never support the use of force (non-lethal or otherwise) to end what is in actuality an inconvenience. People marching--even into banks to non-violently disrupt business, even onto the streets to block traffic, even to sit at the lunch counter where they are not welcome--hardly rises to the threat level worthy of a military response from the already powerful. If you accept that the government should bring out the storm troopers to keep people on the sidewalk, it is a short distance to them keeping us wherever they would like, whenever they would like.

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  • greenerwheels November 22, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Think:
    Middle school lunch ladies in riot gear with ladles and big spoons. If they can handle the kids, with the right tools they can handle anything.

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