PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Mayor Ted Wheeler announced his support for removing Portland Police from Portland Public Schools during a press conference Thursday.
“I’m committed to doing everything I can to disrupt the patterns of injustice,” he said. “I’m removing school resource officers from all of our schools and districts in the city of Portland,” he said.
PPS Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero made the announcement on Thursday that he was re-examining his relationship with Portland Police and removing SROs from schools.
Wheeler said he will be investing in the community by redirecting $1 million from the Portland Police budget to a community driven process, “letting the community decide where to spend the money.”
“This is not a comment on the officers who have been doing work in our schools,” he said. The change will be implemented in the David Douglas and Parkrose districts as well.
Wheeler said he originally didn’t support the removal of SROs but was swayed by community opinion. Commissioner Jo Anne Hardesty strongly supported the plan and also encouraged Wheeler to examine other speciality units including transit and the Gun Violence Reduction Team. He said he will be reviewing those soon.
He also said he proudly signed a pledge for reform with mayors from around the country to review police use of force.
“Thank you Portland for demanding change, and together, we are going to deliver,” he said.
Following Wheeler’s remarks, acting Portland Police Chief Davis spoke about Wednesday night protests. He said a total of 19 officers have been injured in the last week during protests. He responded to questions about the use of tear gas and said alternatives would include higher use of force. “We will gladly stop using CS gas as long as we can and still protect public safety,” he said.
Davis was filling in as Chief Jami Resch was resting at home after working all night.
Aside from a small number of agitators, Portland’s sixth night of protests started and ended peacefully as thousands took to the streets in response to a disturbing video showing a former Minneapolis police officer, who is white, kneeling on a black man’s neck for several minutes as he cried out for air before he finally stopped moving.
George Floyd’s death sparked nightly protests in Portland, some of which have turned violent. But despite Wednesday’s protests drawing the largest crowds yet, the day remained focused on the intended cause without any breakdowns.
Throughout the night, police officers engaged in calm conversations with peaceful protesters. The tone remained largely positive and many chanted “peaceful protest” as the night wore on.
At one point, a dumpster fire broke out a few blocks away but was quickly extinguished by firefighters. Police urged people over social media and a loudspeaker to remain peaceful, saying they support their First Amendment rights. Officers also said there were children in the crowd.
By midnight, the group had thinned down to hundreds of people. Police continued to ask people to stay peaceful. A few objects were thrown toward officers, some chanted slurs directed at police but officers remained unprovoked.