Police use of excessive force is a growing civil rights issue in the United States that primarily affects communities of color. Dozens of heinous instances of police brutality have made headlines from some of the country’s most racially divided cities, sparking a national movement to protect Black lives. Yet, what many culturally “aware” citizens might not know is that police brutality remains a plague on one of the country’s most seemingly liberal cities.
Portland, Oregon is the poster child for progressivism in America, and yet the Portland Police Bureau holds a less than favorable reputation among civil rights activists. While law enforcement personnel are supposed to protect and serve their communities, too often rogue officers take destructive measures that cause profound suffering among those who rely upon them for support. While the media often portrays Portland as a liberal mecca, the city’s troubling history with white supremacism has made it difficult to make significant strides in police reform.
Portland’s Ugly Past
Portland is known for much more than its progressivism. The city is home to world-famous gardens, craft beer pubs, food carts, seemingly never-ending drizzle, and the largest per-capita concentration of white people of any other large city in the United States. What is not so well-known is that before Oregon even became a state, it expressly prohibited African Americans from existing within its borders.
In 1844, the territory’s government penned laws prohibiting slavery while requiring all African Americans to leave. It made the “crime” of being black punishable by whippings; public floggings would take place every six months until the perpetrator left. Five years later, another law was passed forbidding freed African Americans from entering Oregon.
In 1857, the state constitution banned people from entering Oregon, residing in Oregon, and owning property in Oregon. On the contrary, any white male settler could receive 650 acres of land and double that if he was married. After the passage of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, state laws prohibiting Blacks from living in the state and owning property were trumped by federal law; however, Oregon did not ratify many of these laws until much later. When the Fifteenth Amendment gave blacks the right to vote in 1870, it took Oregon until 1959 to officially ratify the amendment.
As if the state weren’t hostile enough to people of color, Oregon had the highest percentage of Klan members per capita of any other state. The police bureau itself was largely comprised of Klansmen. To this day, tensions remain between the African Americans and police officers in the city.
Incidents of Police Brutality in Portland
Though African Americans make up just 6.3% of Portland’s population, 14% of traffic stops involve a black driver and 25% of people shot or shot at by police are African American. Based on these numbers, it is clear there are instances of police abuse of power. If you are targeted for police abuse in Portland, you should know that you are protected by federal law from the use of excessive force and brutality. Excessive force is when police use more force than necessary to take control of a situation.
What to Do if You’re a Victim of Police Brutality
When police brutality and the use of excessive force leads to an injury or death, you have the right to seek justice through a lawsuit against the officer and the police department that caused you harm. It may be possible to seek financial compensation for economic and non-economic losses. Immediately take notes of the situation while it is fresh in your mind and speak with a passionate civil rights lawyer near you about your legal options to seek justice.
Talk to attorney Richard Rizk of Rizk Law to discuss your police brutality case in Portland for free. He has decades of experience fighting for justice and ensuring that his clients receive the compensation they deserve for their pain and suffering. It may be possible to receive funds for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, disfigurement, reduced quality of life and more. Call (503)245-5677 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.