Racial tensions drive Portland group to have open discussion - KPTV - FOX 12

Racial tensions drive Portland group to have open discussion

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A Portland group took initiative Sunday to have an open forum regarding racism in the Rose City after it claims the city’s mayor refused to have "an honest conversation" about tensions surrounding race and a new police union labor agreement.

Greg McKelvey with Don't Shoot Portland said they hosted the discussion because the community deserved to have the opportunity to talk about issues openly.

McKelvey said its top priority is to delay a new police contract which Mayor Charlie Hales and the police union have agreed to move forward with ratifying the labor agreement. 

Under the terms, it would address its staffing crisis, eliminate a 48-hour advance notice for officers before they're interviewed about use of force, and increase transparency.

"It doesn't make sense that this mayor is negotiating this contract when it’s the next mayor that’s going to live out the terms of the contract," McKelvey said.

In September, Don't Shoot Portland along with others protested on city streets to voice their concerns. There were tense moments as demonstrators came face-to-face with police. Portland police confirmed pepper spray was used against a man who charged at an officer. However, the man denied that he charged at the officer.

Mayor Hales told protesters he would meet them the following week to continue the discussion. McKelvey said they were initially told to meet at City Hall, but added its venue was abruptly changed where many people weren’t able to voice their opinions. A spokesperson for the mayor said the change was announced in advance and both parties knew about the change.

"We felt that really silenced a lot of voices and we want those voices to still be heard," Mckelvey said.

After the meeting, McKelvey said the leaders of the group will relay the community's thoughts and concerns to the mayor. The group says it plans to meet with Mayor Hales on Tuesday.

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