Portland's Resistance to Mayor Wheeler: Replace Chief Marshman or Face Recall Effort
An anti-Trump march led by Portland's Resistance last November
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is on the verge of selecting a chief for the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) after a nationwide search. Activist group Portland's Resistance really, really, doesn't want Chief Mike Marshman—a finalist—to keep his job.
The group, which formed last November in the wake of Donald Trump's electoral college victory, says they will organize a campaign to recall Wheeler if he doesn't hire someone else to lead the PPB.
"Mike Marshman's reign at the head of the Portland Police Bureau has been marked by increased violence at protests, harassment of the houseless population and disproportionate arrests of black and brown individuals," wrote Gregory McKelvey, a co-founder of the group, in a statement released on Monday. "For those reasons, along with Mike Marshman's admitted history of domestic abuse and recent administrative leave, Portland's Resistance is calling on Ted Wheeler to refrain from hiring Mike Marshman as Chief of Police."
A recall effort is "very rarely done, and very rarely successful" said City Elections Officer Deborah Scroggin. If Marshman is hired and Portland's Resistance wants to follow through with it, they'll have to file a bunch of paperwork and then they will have 90 days to collect nearly 36,000 signatures from Portland residents sympathetic to the effort. If that happens, somehow, Wheeler would have to file a "statement of justification," triggering a special election for mayor.
"If Ted Wheeler doubles down on the business as usual approach to the Portland Police, we will work with our community partners and allied organizations to recall Mayor Wheeler and elect a mayor committed to pursuing justice for all Portland residents," the the group said.
Marshman was named as chief last summer by then-Mayor Charlie Hales. He's overseen a bureau often criticized for heavy-handed suppression of protests since the wides-scale rallies after Trump's election last fall (see our stories on controversial protest policing on Inauguration Day, President's Day, and the June 4 protest, for example). The "domestic abuse" Portland's Resistance mentions is in reference to a 2002 incident where Marshman grabbed his then-stepson by the throat and shoved him against the wall ("an unfortunate incident that occurred more than a decade ago and one that I wish never happened," Marshman explained last year).
Wheeler is expected to interview finalists this week and make his decision about who'll be at the helm of the PPB shortly later. As Maxine Berstein at the O notes, there are four finalists: Marshman and Pittsburgh Assistant Chief Larry Scirotto have been named by the city as candidates, and Bernstein also believes Seattle Assistant Chief Perry Tarrant and Oakland Deputy Chief Danielle Outlaw could be finalists.
McKelvey, who's spearheading Portland's Resistance's potential recall effort, also called for a recall last year (when he was affiliated with Don't Shoot Portland) for Commissioner Nick Fish for ratifying the controversial police union contract. That ended up not happening.
Here's the full statement about a potential recall effort of Wheeler from Portland's Resistance.
If Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler selects current Portland Police Chief Mike Marshman as the permanent Police Chief, Portland's Resistance will pursue a campaign to recall Mayor Wheeler. The mayor is expected to announce his choice in early August, and the decision could come as soon as this week.
Mike Marshman's reign at the head of the Portland Police Bureau has been marked by increased violence at protests, harassment of the houseless population and disproportionate arrests of black and brown individuals. For these reasons; along with Mike Marshman's admitted history of domestic abuse and recent administrative leave, Portland's Resistance is calling on Ted Wheeler to refrain from hiring Mike Marshman as Chief of Police.
Ted Wheeler has decided to delay or disregard his campaign promise to reform criminal justice in Portland. No steps have been taken to demilitarize the police, instead this mayor has overseen the violent suppression of first amendment rights of peaceful protesters and then turned around and provided free bus rides for alt-right agitators. Most recently, in a complete reversal from the public process he promised, the mayor has facilitated a secret process for hiring the next police chief. It is important to note that the only part of the process that has been made public: the community input survey, described a strong community preference against rehire Mike Marshman. If the mayor decides to ignore community input and abandon his commitment to taking the Portland Police Bureau in a new direction, and instead selects Mike Marshman as Portland's Police Chief, Portland's Resistance will pursue a recall of Ted Wheeler. The people of Portland elected a candidate who had bold ideas about a different approach to policing. The mayor that people thought they were electing has not materialized. If Ted Wheeler doubles down on the business as usual approach to the Portland Police, we will work with our community partners and allied organizations to recall Mayor Wheeler and elect a mayor committed to pursuing justice for all Portland residents. We understand that the police union is very intimidating, officers prefer a white male chief and Marshman has come up through the ranks of our violent police department. However, Ted Wheeler was elected as mayor and should do the right thing.