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Portland Officials Narrowly Defeat More Police Budget Cuts

Portland commissioners rejected a budget amendment to slash another $18 million from the Portland Police Bureau amid months of racial justice protests, reports the Associated Press. The commission voted 3-2 against the amendment proposed by Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, the first Black woman on the panel that acts like a city council. The move would have shifted funds to the city’s pandemic response. Mayor Ted Wheeler, who won a second term on Tuesday, voted “no” on the amendment Thursday. He said, “Last week, we heard that it won’t require layoffs, which is wrong. It will require layoffs. This is not a detail. This is a critical piece of information.”

Wheeler added that, “Many Portlanders, and most of the people who testified about this item, do not trust the current criminal legal system — they do not trust the Police Bureau,” but cutting the police budget further was not the solution. The commission voted in June to cut nearly $16 million from the police — eliminating school resource officers, transit police and a gun violence reduction unit. Portland has been roiled by five months of near-nightly Black Lives Matter protests and Wheeler has come under intense criticism for what many see as an overly aggressive police force. A challenger to Wheeler’s left almost beat him by calling for police budget cuts of $50 million. On Thursday, a day after demonstrators smashed windows in the downtown, a group of protesters stood in heavy rain for several hours to call for authorities to reopen an investigation into the fatal police shooting death of Patrick Kimmons, a 27-year-old Black man, two years ago.