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Portland Business Owners Ask Mayor Ted Wheeler to Defund the Police

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The Portland Independent Restaurant Alliance is circulating a petition written by Portland business owners, calling for a significant cut to the Portland police budget

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Mayor Ted Wheeler
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Brooke Jackson-Glidden is the editor of Eater Portland.

In the last two weeks, many Portlanders have been calling for a defunding of the city’s police department — yesterday alone, hundreds of Portlanders testified before the city council for five hours, many of whom asked to lower the Portland police budget by the $50 million recommended by Unite Oregon and Portland African American Leadership Forum.

Among the community calling for a defunded police: Portland business owners. An unnamed group of industry members started a petition yesterday, shared by the Portland Independent Restaurant Alliance, a newly formed coalition of restaurant owners and managers in the Portland area, formed in response to the coronavirus-related financial crisis.

PIRA began circulating a petition yesterday entitled “Portland Small Business Owners Demand Mayor Ted Wheeler Defund Portland Police Bureau,” and it’s already been signed by more than 700 people. The petition, started by “Members of The Portland Small Business Community,” calls for a rejection of the proposed $6,979,478 increase to the police budget, defunding of the Special Emergency Reaction Team, a ban on all chemical weapons, rubber bullets, grenades, and LRAD (also known as a sound cannon), a cut in the $13 million in overtime funding for policing protests, and a redistribution of all of those funds into social resources that support harm reduction and community-building, specifically in communities of color.

“Portland suffers from overwhelming systemic structural racism,” the petition reads. “The Portland Police play a pivotal role in this reality and we will not support the funding of this city entity who reinforces the disempowerment and repression of communities of color on a daily basis.” Some restaurant industry members have publicly announced their support of the petition, including Tiny Moreso’s Jenn Pereau, Yonder’s Maya Lovelace, and Hat Yai’s Katy Connors Daugherty.

“The petition was created by a small group of business owners who gathered last weekend. That gathering included members of PIRA,” Connors Daugherty says. “Since our inception in March, PIRA has sought to amplify the voices of members of the food and beverage community and the community at large.”

The current budget proposal allocates $246 million toward the Portland Police Bureau; the vote on the budget was originally planned for Wednesday, but it was pushed to Thursday due to the recent death of Wheeler’s mother. Testimony will continue today, and the city council is expected to vote in the afternoon.

Portland Small Business Owners Demand Mayor Ted Wheeler Defund Portland Police Bureau []
Portland Independent Restaurant Alliance [Instagram]
Hundreds Demand The Portland City Council Defund Police [OPB]