Once again, the Portland Police Bureau has angered the activist community. On July 4, the police reportedly over-deployed personnel and vehicles to break up a small, legal political protest of flag burners. Angered by what they view as needlessly contentious and errant behavior by the cops, on July 30, the Police Accountability Campaign (PAC) wrote a letter to Chief Kroeker expressing their dismay and questioning police actions during the incident. According to the letter, police approached a small group of young people who were burning a flag in the street and ordered them into their yard. The group complied, but when Sgt. Harry Jackson arrived, he ordered them to put out the fire, which, at the time, was legal and completely contained.

Backup was summoned; a group that eventually included 12 officers, seven police vehicles, and a fire truck. Officers took six protesters into custody and, though none were intoxicated, escorted four to Hooper Detoxification Center. While Dan, one of the protesters (whose last name has been withheld by request) asked for a breathalyzer, police apparently refused repeatedly. Moreover, while in custody, the protesters were interrogated with questions about their political beliefs. According to Dan, when they requested legal counsel, Jackson replied, "You don't get a lawyer now, you can talk to a lawyer in court."

In addition, according to the protesters, the officers involved refused to give their names and badge numbers. When one protester questioned the legality of police actions, Jackson allegedly replied, "You can think about your rights later, when you're in court."

Since July 4, the police allegedly have continued to harass the protesters: A few days after the incident, officers returned to the house and took several photographs. Another time, police arrived at midnight without a warrant and asked for one of the protesters by name.

Two protesters were cited: Dan, for a misdemeanor, which was later reduced to a violation. The police entrapped him into a charge for drinking in public, he says, corralling the group and forcing him out of his yard while holding a beer. As soon as he stepped into the street, he says, "They slapped the cuffs on me."

PAC has requested that Chief Kroeker answer its letter by August 8. ANNA BOND