Police Reform Progress 2021
“Say his name!” yelled a woman through a bullhorn. “George Floyd!” the marchers responded, their voices ricocheting off the county courthouse and towering Justice Center, which also serves as the headquarters of the Portland Police Bureau (PPB). As the two groups converged, PPB officers standing nearby exchanged glances, nervously shifting their weight from one leg to the other. Within hours, the Justice Center’s first floor would be ablaze and shattered glass from retail shop windows would mosaic downtown streets.
Four days earlier, a Minneapolis cop had killed Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, by kneeling on his neck until he could no longer breathe. The moment resurfaced memories of similar police killings of Black Portlanders—Quanice Hayes with his hands in the air as he crawled toward officers, Andre Gladen seeking refuge in a stranger’s house during a mental health crisis, Keaton Otis stopped by police for driving a car that looked “too nice.” The upset of seeing yet another Black man die at the hands of law enforcement drew hundreds—and eventually, thousands—of Portlanders to the streets calling for an overhaul to the county’s policing system.
As the days turned to weeks, activists focused their lens on the PPB and the city’s reluctant police commissioner, Mayor Ted Wheeler, waving signs and signing petitions that called on elected officials to rein in a city police force that’s long victimized Black residents through budget cuts, policy changes, and, for some, total abolition.
One year after Portlanders first brought their demands to the streets in the form of chants, poster board messages, spray painted pleas, and emails to city commissioners, here’s a look at what’s actually changed in local policing since that first night of protest. The progress, or lack thereof, can be broken down into four categories: funding, policies, outcomes, and outlook. To read more about each category, click the corresponding link on the right-hand sidebar.