Back in federal court: Protesters v. Cops

There was quite a day of testimony in the U.S. District Court in Portland yesterday regarding alleged misconduct by Portland police at demonstrations. The group Don't Shoot Portland is asking Judge Marco Hernandez to hold the city's police bureau in contempt of court for violating a previous order outlawing various brutal tactics.

Yesterday's bones of contention were from the rumble at police union headquarters on June 30. Here's some of what I wrote about that night's festivities:

[T]he cops are acting like they're fighting the Nazis in World War II. Take a look at the video in this tweet. Tear gas (which they were ordered by a federal judge not to use), phalanxes of heavily armed riot police, the rockets' red glare, all of it. We don't need it. The police should know better. No matter how obnoxious the demonstrators are.

Then take a look at the video in this tweet, as some poor older guy gets maced in the face while being pushed around. After he hits the ground (that elbow's gotta hurt today), it looks like the goon with the mace is about to give him another shot while he's being pinned. Then the cops chase the person recording the whole sorry episode. Again, totally unnecessary.

It's interesting to try to reconcile the contemporaneous tweets with yesterday's courtroom statements. Maxine Bernstein at the O gets a lot of the testimony down here.

The judge did not rule immediately on the contempt issue. That ruling will come at some unspecified future time.

Meanwhile, Officer 67, whose photo illustrated my post about the June 30 violence, was just removed from street duty after questions were raised about his conduct at other nights' demonstrations. Latisha Jensen writes that development up in the weed weekly, here

That story also raises some right-on points about the fact that the police in Portland are now operating in complete anonymity: 

The secrecy surrounding the officer's identity is extraordinary, given that until May, all officers wore their names on their uniforms. But after nightly protests began in Portland following the killing of George Floyd, officers began taping over their name tags. The bureau said officers were at risk of being "doxxed," having their names, addresses and other personal information shared on social media.

That safety rationale for not displaying officers' names on their uniforms now extends to not revealing their names in almost any unflattering context. The city won't release the names of officers under investigation or cops who have been taken off street duty. Last Sunday, city officials released officer pay data to The Oregonian—and withheld the names of hundreds of officers. 

The city attorney is apparently telling the mayor the city can't legally reveal any police officer's name any more. That, my friends, is freaking ridiculous and has got to change. 


  1. If you're from Portland I'm sure you share my surreal feelings watching our humble little city get so much attention nationally. I didn't watch the debate last night mainly because there was no one here with a gun forcing me to watch it. However, I know previous events involving Trump have mentioned the Rose City, the mayor, and the murder at 4th and Alder over and over again. What pushed it even further into a surreal state was the killings and riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin - the town where my wife went to high school. Unlikely as that seemed, I was able to process it after a few weeks, but this? This is the tipping point for my sanity. Last night the latest incident of police shooting unarmed black teenagers took place in Waukegan, Illinois, the town where my wife was born and grew up. What are the odds of that? Up until now the most noteworthy thing about the place was that it is where Jack Benny also lived. His parents went into Chicago for the birth because they believed a baby should have a big city for a birthplace, but then they came back home to Waukegan and lived in the same neighborhood where my wife would live out her childhood years. There's even a statue of Jack Benny in the town square unless they've torn it down by now. So it's time for me to state how all this feels directly to the universe:
    Okay, I'm on to you. Each life comes with its own individual hologram designed around a person that incorporates weird so-called coincidences that are actually clues to a bizarre mosaic. Once you see this it all makes sense. Remember Jack's post about boxes of old cassettes? I too have boxes of old cassettes. See what I mean? I'm not losing it. No way. I'm just on to it - that's all.

    1. Waukegan is the birthplace of one of the finest 20th C. American short-story writers, Ray Bradbury, also author of Fahrenheit 451 among other great novels. No knock on Jack Benny, but that means he’s far from the most noteworthy person from Waukegan.

    2. Without Jack Benny, there would have been no Johnny Carson.

    3. No disrespect for Ray Bradbury and his many books also including "The Illustrated Man" and "The Martian Chronicles." But to say Jack Benny is "far from the most noteworthy person from Waukegan" is a diss too far. I mean I saw the statue with my own eyes. He's playing the violin. The Jack Benny Program was huge - it was on the radio and TV for 3 decades and had a major cultural impact on America. Plus he was funny. I used to work at a hotel in downtown Portland and I was up in the sound engineer's booth one day. He asked me if I wanted to hear Jack Benny's performance at the hotel. He played the tape and it was for insurance agents at a convention. Benny talked about the insurance company that covered him and he said in that dry delivery, "I'm not going to tell you how much I'm insured for, but when I go, they go." Benny was an iconic comedian. It's actually kind of humorous calling him noteworthy if you ever heard him play the violin. Maybe "most noteworthy" is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder. Wait, what am I doing? For me the most noteworthy person who ever came out of Waukegan was my wife.

  2. There's definitely a line to be drawn connecting those two, but don't agree that there would have been a void had Jack not gone first. The massively powerful TV medium was there, the economy was growing at a steady 3% clip, and TV sales were going through the roof -- the competition for eyeballs to sell to sponsors would inevitably produce a "Johnny Carson" dominance-level figure, even if it was not the exact Johnny we knew -- just as talents like Benny flourished in radio.

    Inventors and creators are indeed gifted, but many just as gifted fall by the wayside, unknown, folks who could have been "Johnny" in his place. As we are often reminded here, it takes a big staff of writers to feed a TV show, and that staff, toiling away behind the scenes, is what makes for an enduring variety show.

    1. No one else can be Johnny, as the decades since his retirement have shown. And Johnny adored, and imitated, Jack.

    2. I wanted to add this detail but I had to check with the wife to see if I remembered it right. Her family's house was across the street from another house and next to it on the corner was the house where Jack Benny used to live. One day when she was in grade school she came home and her Mom said that Jack Benny had come by to see his old home. She knew Ray Bradbury was from there but she only learned about that years later after she had already left town.

    3. You will enjoy this from Bradbury’s Wikipedia entry:

      Bradbury attended Los Angeles High School and was active in the drama club. He often roller-skated through Hollywood in hopes of meeting celebrities. Among the creative and talented people Bradbury met were special-effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen and radio star George Burns. Bradbury's first pay as a writer, at age 14, was for a joke he sold to George Burns to use on the Burns and Allen radio show.[11][12]

    4. Well done, Walker. Talk about tying it all together. It was a simpler time then with great opportunities. I read somewhere that freelance writers could toss bits over the wall at Jack Benny's house and land on national TV that way. I tried to fact check that to no avail but as my father used to say, "If it isn't true, it ought to be."


Post a Comment

The platform used for this blog is awfully wonky when it comes to comments. It may work for you, it may not. It's a Google thing, and beyond my control. Apologies if you can't get through. You can email me a comment at, and if it's appropriate, I can post it here for you.