Ten people were arrested in Portland, Oregon, Wednesday during protests at City Hall where the City Council approved a police contract that gave pay hikes to officers and raised concerns over the use of body cameras. The commissioners voted 3-2 in support of the contract.
Protesters from Don’t Shoot Portland and Black Lives Matter were also angered by Mayor Charlie Hales’ unprecedented move to hold the vote in a meeting instead of letting his successor Mayor-Elect Ted Wheeler address the issue in January when Hales leaves office. According to the demonstrators, there would have been extra time for public input had Hales let Wheeler address the matter.
Initially, the contract had assured police officers the right to review body cameras before filing reports. This raised concern among police watchdog groups. However, Commissioner Nick Fish told KATU-TV Wednesday that the contract did not address the body camera use policy.
“It was carved out and will be discussed with the community later,” Fish said.
During protests, police also used pepper spray on demonstrators who chanted and threw objects at police. One officer sustained non-serious injuries after being assaulted by protesters, Portland Police Bureau said, in a statement.
“It should be clear that ‘free speech events’ do not require a permit; but, marches or demonstrations occurring in public streets that restrict movement of other community members do require a permit issued by the City of Portland to allow for the safety of all. No permits were issued for today's events,” the bureau’s statement read.
On Tuesday, Police Chief Mike Marshman had said in a blog post that the contract was urgently needed to help the city hire new officers. By the month end, the police bureau — 880 members at present — will have about 90 vacancies after retirements. Furthermore, another 385 officers are estimated to retire in the next five years. Marshman said that a good salary will help Portland get new officers and stop current officers quitting their job.