PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer is hosting a town hall on Saturday morning to discuss police brutality and police reform.
Blumenauer will be joined by State Senator Lew Frederick and Urban League of Portland CEO Nkenge Harmon Johnson, who he says he’s had illuminating conversations with over the last week. This town hall is spurred by the national outrage over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer restrained him and knelt on his neck for over 8 minutes.
“This has shed an intense light on the injustices faced by black people every day in this country, and the systems in place designed to continue that oppression,” said Blumenauer.
The town hall began virtually at 11 a.m.
“We’re going to get some things done and we’re not going to be silent or quiet about it,” said Senator Frederick.
They dove into questions about the use of tear gas against protesters, not only around the country but right here in Portland. Johnson asked the congressman what his thoughts on tear gas tactics are.
“There are health consequences, both for the people upon whom it is inflicted and people around them in the broader neighborhood,” said Blumenauer. “It is a symbol, I think, of how we have turned to attempting to force behaviors. It’s part of the militarization — tear gas is actually a weapon of war and is a manifestation of that mindset of how to deal with disturbances. I would personally favor banning it in our city I would favor having federal standards that would limit or prohibit it.”
Federick told the story of how his first experience with tear gas was when he was just 8 years old.
“I remember it well. It hurts — especially when you’re a kid, it hurts,” he said. “There’s absolutely no excuse, no reason to be using tear gas in this situation. This basic attempt is once again an intimidation approach. It is a militaristic approach.”
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