Article by Jake Dockter.

Portland, Oregon Mayor Tevis E. Wheeler would love you to believe that the answer to the gun violence spike is more money and more cops. 

Wheeler’s recent press release – echoed by Portland Police, Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese, and Matt Hennesse’s Interfaith Peace & Action Collaborative (IPAC) –  all tie gun violence rates to the 2020 defunding of PPB’s Gun Violence Reduction Taskforce (GVRT). 

The solution they propose over and over is money, money, money. Wheeler says funds are the solution but a closer look at PPB’s record shows that may be a waste of resources.

In a recent letter from IPAC, city staff and a few unnamed community members provided these recommendations to Portland City Council:

We ask that you support our proposed City investments, outlined in the attachments, to expand community-based programs and enhance police services to help end cycles of violence on Portland’s streets.

They then specifically asked for expanded resources for the Office of Violence Prevention, oversight, and more, as seen below.

(From IPAC)

While avoiding the name GVRT, the inclusion of “re-establish a uniformed patrol team” is a wink at what they truly mean. The bottom line is: all these demands mean more money and more cops. 

Looking at other recent moves by Wheeler, it seems to be the only game he knows how to play.

Screenshot from Oregonian: “Crime Mayor Ted Wheeler seeks $2 million to bring back uniformed police team to address spike in shootings Updated Mar 11, 2021; Posted Mar 11, 2021”
Screenshot from Oregonian, states: Portland mayor proposed bringing back controversial Gun Violence Reduction Team: ‘Sell it to the new council ASAP’

The summer of 2020 brought tens of thousands of citizens into the streets demanding police accountability and change. City Commissioners Eudaly and Hardesty reported thousands of calls and letters, setting records for community engagement. A huge number of those calls asked to defund police, an institution rooted in racism and not equitable public safety. The GVRT showed an entrenched commitment to racial profiling and targeted Black community members above their representation in the community. Ultimately, Portland ended up cutting the GVRT and other departments. 

Now Wheeler is beating the old funding drum to bring them back again and we have to ask…


What are we funding?

Why do we keep throwing our money away?

How can we spend in better ways?

What can we fund, besides racism and failure?