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Will Portland adopt a law to restrict protests?


What you’ll read today

  • Spotlight: Will Portland adopt a law to restrict protests?

  • New evidence reveals Columbus police filed misleading reports on Stormy Daniels arrest

  • 50 preventable deaths over five years in New York’s prisons

  • Private prison company spends record amount on midterm elections

  • Police kill 26-year-old Black security guard

  • A holistic defense approach leads to better client outcomes

In the Spotlight

Will Portland adopt a law to restrict protests?

Tomorrow the Portland City Council votes on an ordinance proposed by the mayor that would impose time, place, and manner restrictions on protests in the Oregon city. The mayor and police department have pointed to recent clashes between protesters and anti-fascist, or antifa, counterprotesters to insist that the restrictions are necessary to prevent violence. Opponents of the proposal have pointed to the police use of violence against left-wing protesters and have criticized the mayor and police department for equating the actions of the right-wing extremist groups like Patriot Prayer with those of counterprotesters. Critics have argued that the restrictions would constitute an unconstitutional infringement on the First Amendment rights of protesters. [Alex Zielinski / Portland Mercury]

The ordinance, if adopted, would expand the city’s ability to place “content-neutral time, place, and manner” restrictions on protests. It would allow Mayor Ted Wheeler, in his current capacity as police commissioner, to control the location, size, and duration of a protest if there are two or more groups involved that have a “history of violence” or if there is a “likelihood of violence” based on protesters’ past conduct. The commissioner could also order limitations on a protest based on a belief that the protest will endanger bystanders. [Alex Zielinski / Portland Mercury] The proposal came directly in response to violence during an Oct. 15 “flash mob for law and order” called for by Joey Gibson, founder of Patriot Prayer. [Lester Black / Portland Mercury]

Critics of the proposed ordinance have cast doubts on its legality. Immediately after Wheeler’s proposal, the ACLU of Oregon released a statement arguing that “[t]he mayor’s proposal grants broad authority to the mayor’s office to regulate constitutionally-protected speech and assembly with no meaningful oversight for abuse.” Jim Oleske, a constitutional law professor, told the Portland Mercury that the city would struggle to demonstrate that decisions made in accordance with the proposed ordinance were content-neutral, as constitutionally mandated, if a protest was regulated based on an expectation about how listeners would react to the regulated speech. The ordinance also grants broad discretion to the commissioner in determining which protest activity to regulate and how. [Alex Zielinski / Portland Mercury]

The debate around the ordinance has been closely tied to concerns about the Portland police department’s treatment of left-wing protesters. In August, antifascists showed up at a march organized by the far-right, white nationalist group the Proud Boys. When the counterprotesters did not comply with police orders to move, police fired flash-bang grenades and pepper balls at them, causing multiple injuries. [Katie Shepherd / Willamette Week] The scene harked back to large dueling protests last June when the police’s treatment of left-wing protesters led to a lawsuit and, ultimately, to recommendations for reform from the city’s independent police oversight office regarding the treatment of protesters.  [Katie Shepherd / Willamette Week]

At a hearing Thursday, one of the City Council commissioners questioned the police department about use of force against protesters and differing treatment of right-wing and anti-fascist protesters. Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who has said she will vote against the ordinance, asked the police department representative a series of questions about police violence against anti-fascist protesters at recent protests. Eudaly asked the assistant chief of police why the department treated protesters who did not obey dispersal orders, but were not engaged in violence, “as ‘fair game’ for riot cops to shoot with exploding munitions and pepper spray,” according to Willamette Week. The assistant chief’s response was that by ignoring a dispersal order, people were breaking the law. [Katie Shepherd / Willamette Week]

In her testimony Thursday, the ACLU of Oregon’s legislative director pointed to “many instances of the safety of our community being endangered by police response to protest,” insisting that “If we’re serious about addressing the safety of communities, we need to talk about the use of crowd control weapons, what sort of de-escalation techniques we’re using, and what kind of training law enforcement have to actually respond to protests in a peaceful manner.” [Alex Zielinski / Portland Mercury]

Jo Ann Hardesty, a longtime civil rights activist who last week became the first Black woman elected to the City Council, also testified Thursday. Hardesty, who will take office in January, argued that the ordinance was premature and that the city should wait for the results of an inquiry into why police officers deployed flash-bang explosives into a crowd of anti-fascist protesters on Aug. 4. She said the police department had not told the truth about why they used force. And she pointed to the history of disparate enforcement of laws to warn that the law would be used to punish protestors of color, saying, We don’t all experience the police the same way. We cannot have a police force for white people, and then a police force for everybody else.” [Katie Shepherd / Willamette Week]

Stories From The Appeal

Stormy Daniels and her attorney, Michael Avenatti [Drew Angerer/Getty Images]

New Evidence Reveals Columbus Police Filed Misleading Reports on Stormy Daniels Arrest. In internal documents obtained by The Appeal, the vice unit’s supervisor admits no specific complaints were lodged against Daniels or the club before the police took action. [George Joseph]

Stories From Around the Country

50 preventable deaths over five years in New York’s prisons: In the past five years, 50 people died preventable deaths in New York state prisons. These are the conclusions of a state board, which reviewed the deaths and found that they could have been prevented with the provision of adequate medical care. The reports, which are not publicly available, were obtained by the Daily News through a Freedom of Information Law request. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration has criticized New York City’s slowness in closing Rikers Island, but Jack Beck of the Correctional Association of New York told the Daily News, that Cuomo “really should be looking at his own system and seeing what those problems are.” The medical reviews depict a system where medical staff members ignore serious health problems for far too long, fail to carry out even basic checkups and mental health screenings, and in some cases ignore direct pleas for help from incarcerated people. One man died by suicide in 2015 after being repeatedly placed in solitary confinement for failing to supply urine on demand for drug tests, due to a medical condition, even though he had cleared 10 drug tests over the years. He addressed his suicide note to state medical staff. Many of the 50 cases were deaths by suicide of people with mental illness in solitary confinement. [Reuven Blau / New York Daily News]

Private prison company spends record amount on midterm elections: The Florida-based private prison giant GEO Group funneled an unprecedented $1.2 million into the state’s midterm elections this year. During his campaign for governor, Democrat Andrew Gillum became the rare Florida politician who vowed not to take prison industry contributions and said private prisons “ought to be illegal.” Twelve percent of incarcerated people in Florida were held in private prisons in 2016. GEO also spent over $400,000 in elections outside Florida. This included in campaign contributions to Democratic Representative Henry Cuellar of Texas who previously praised GEO for playing “an important role in maintaining our public safety,” saying that “without them, rapists, murderers, and other offenders would not be incarcerated.” Democratic control of the House could have implications for GEO’s ICE revenue stream—immigration detention was the source of a quarter of GEO’s revenue last year. [Madison Pauly / Mother Jones]

Police kill 26-year-old Black security guard: At a bar in Robbins, Illinois, police officers shot and killed Jemel Roberson, a 26-year-old Black law student working as a security guard at the bar where he was killed. During a confrontation at the bar outside Chicago, one of the people involved left, brought back a gun, and shot multiple people. Roberson reportedly returned fire and apprehended one suspect. What happened after police arrived remains unclear. As one witness stated, “they [police officers] basically saw a black man with a gun and killed him.” Police have shot and killed at least 19 people in Illinois and at least 840 people in the U.S. this year. Of those killed nationwide, 181—or 22 percent—were Black. (Black people make up about 13 percent of the U.S. population.) Roberson’s killing comes amid nationwide debates over the efficacy of armed security guards in public places. [Mark Guarino, Alex Horton, and Michael Brice-Saddler / Washington Post]

A holistic defense approach leads to better client outcomes: A study conducted by the RAND Corporation and the University of Pennsylvania Law School looked at the outcomes of 587,000 criminal cases in the Bronx over nine years between 2000 and 2014. Researchers compared outcomes for clients of the Bronx Defenders, which pioneered the holistic defense model (and where both of the Daily Appeal’s curators worked as public defenders), and the Legal Aid Society in the Bronx. Together the offices represent 95 percent of defendants in the borough’s criminal cases.The researchers found that for the cases in the study, Bronx Defenders clients were 16 percent less likely to be sentenced to jail or prison and, when sentenced, spent, on average, 24 percent less time incarcerated. Though holistic defense services require greater funding, the shorter sentences for Bronx Defenders’ clients accounted for $165 million savings in incarceration costs. Both offices’ clients had better case outcomes than those represented by court-appointed private attorneys. Tina Luongo, attorney in chief of Legal Aid’s criminal defense practice urged that the study’s finding not be interpreted “to make it seem as though we pit each other against one another,” noting that after a successful fight, in 2009, for caseload caps the organization was able to devote more resources to social work and other services for clients. [Eli Hager / Marshall Project]

Thanks for reading. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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