350PDX is proud of the work we did to build an inclusive and just Climate Strike Rally and Festival. However, we live in a judicial system that targets and harms black and brown bodies, and 350PDX took on the responsibility of creating a safe and free environment for the youth to exercise their rights in, that included securing permits for the rally, march, and festival. Still, we know that with permits comes police presence, and for many in our community, the presence of police creates neither a safe nor a free environment.
Knowing this, we worked to minimize the presence of police and other types of uniformed responders. With the community in mind, we created a policy that on the festival grounds, police and first responders would only be allowed to enter the event when called in response to an emergency. Volunteer staff were instructed to notify attendees before the arrival of police and first responders, to accompany them at all times to limit contact between them and the community, and had identified safer spaces for community members to gather if they did not feel comfortable being near police and first responders. In accordance with this policy, volunteers did turn away three police officers that had entered the festival grounds without invitation or permission.
We sincerely apologize to our black and brown community members who were unsafe or felt unsafe at the Climate Strike Rally. Right now, we are currently working behind the scenes to support the students and their families who were targeted by police violence at the Strike on Friday, September 20. We are working to provide the type of support that is desired by these students and their families, such as legal and financial support. We encourage the rest of the community to join us in offering this support and we will broadcast to the community ways to do so when and if it’s appropriate.
We know that we can always do more to counter white supremacy in our work, and limit the risks that black and brown people experience at the hands of police. We want to share this resource about “How Videos of Police Brutality Traumatize African Americans and Undermine the Search for Justice,” as we recognize that many videos have been shared of the incident on Friday. We understand this is coming from a genuine place of concern for these students’ safety. “Yet because the images of police violence are so pervasive, they inflict a unique harm on viewers, particularly African Americans, who see themselves and those they love in these fatal encounters. This recognition becomes a form of violence in and of itself—and even more so when justice is denied.”
With that in mind, 350PDX pledges to do the following at any upcoming action we hold:
- Work with Don’t Shoot Portland and other racial justice activist organizations to learn best practices of protecting black and brown people from police brutality
- Train our volunteers, especially peacekeepers, in the importance of diversity of tactics and how to interrupt police violence with nonviolence
- Ensure that white folks are at the front of any action in which police are present, keeping those folks of color protected within the crowd
- Continue to develop policies around police and first responder presence that limits potential contact with the community and create safe spaces for community members to gather if it becomes necessary for police and first responders to be onsite with us.
We know that our community requires us to be accountable. We are working hard to ensure that any actions of police brutality are interrupted, that police are held accountable for their violence, and that white supremacy is dismantled in our own organizing.
In solidarity with black and brown people,