Portland defunded the police, now the county is using ‘relief funds’ to combat rising gun violence

PORTLAND, OR – Following the death of George Floyd in May of 2020, Portland leaders, in particular, Mayor Ted Wheeler chose to defund their police department, and side with radical groups such as Antifa and Black Lives Matter.

Now, after slashing their police budgets and essentially tying the hands of their officers, Multnomah County, home to Portland, is seeking millions of dollars of pandemic relief funds to combat their rising violent crimes. 

This decision comes as the shootings in Portland have more than doubled since this time last year. 

Law Enforcement Today reported that the Portland City Council’s folly has led to a 2000 percent increase in homicides.

This is hardly surprising, as cities across the country which implemented similar defunding measures or otherwise tied the hands of their police departments have experienced similar results. Crime is exploding everywhere.

Multnomah County Commissioners approved a budget for next year hoping to reduce community violence.

The budget however blames the pandemic for the massive increase in gun violence, as opposed to the obvious problem which is a lack of policing thanks to overreaching politicians. 

County commissioners unanimously earmarked four million dollars from the American Rescue Plan and about $600 thousand from the general fund to address these factors, on top of work the county’s already been doing, according to Fox12.

Erika Preuitt, the Director of the county’s Department of Community Justice said:

“What these programs and resources that were funded in our budget do is they help us to continue the good work expand the good work and to go in places that we see gaps, so we are really reaching community members that really need us,” 

As one example, some of the money will add three new community health specialists. These are people who help families directly impacted by gun violence with safety plans, trauma support or even basic needs. They estimate they’ll be able to help 50 to 60 people, Fox12 reported.

The money also expands programs centered on communities of color.

Preuitt said:

“Our goal’s going to be to connect them to services which includes treatment, supportive housing and behavioral health,” 

She continued:

“We believe that by providing these resources to those that are most at risk in our community of violence to commit violence will help us to have an impact.”

More than half of the money is reportedly based on prevention from a public health approach. Part of that is a new Gun Violence Behavioral Health Response Team made up of seven people including clinicians to provide services for kids and families impacted by gangs, Multnomah County reported

Instead of investing the funds into rebuilding their strained police force, Interim Health Department Director Ebony Sloan Clarke outlined some of the ways the funds will be used. 

Some of the investments Clarke described include

  • $1,116,000 in community partnerships & capacity building in Public Health – This new funding will scale up a wraparound model using community health workers in community-based organizations.

    The County will contract with the Nonprofit Association of Oregon to provide technical assistance to smaller BIPOC organizations, and contract for culturally responsive maternal child health services in the African and Latinx communities.  Funding will also go to expand Pacific Islander and Latinx coalitions, as well as the Future Generations Collaborative.

  • $1,200,000 in a Gun Violence Behavioral Health Response Team – A seven-member team composed of clinicians and peers would provide services for gang-impacted youth and families. The team would work closely with DCJ’s Juvenile Services Division and use therapeutic interventions to address underlying needs.
  • $170,000 in FaithBridge Trauma and Healing and Recovery – This funding would supplement culturally specific opportunities for women emerging from trauma and/or life transitions to reconnect to faith in a deep and life-transforming way.

    These women could be emerging from abuse, abandonment, incarceration, and addiction. Eighty-four percent of Black women say religion is very important to them.

  • $186,000 in culturally specific justice-involved addictions care benefit coordination – This position would work with Black and African American individuals who are on supervision with the Department of Community Justice.

    The goal will be to connect them to services, including residential treatment, intensive outpatient treatment with supported housing, outpatient treatment, outreach/engagement, recovery mentoring, and recovery support, including connections to housing supports and prosocial/drug-free activities, and help with basic needs.

While the county is going to take relief funds and try to combat rising violent crimes with a public health and community outreach approach, the residents of Portland feel like they are being held hostage in their own homes due to the violence and crime.

Here is more on that story. 

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PORTLAND, OR – Despite mostly silence from mainstream media, the residents and businesses in Portland continue to suffer under relentless anti-police riots more than a year after the violence began.

Residents have been held hostage in the city as violence appears no longer tied to protests, but to simple anarchy. One 44-year-old Portlander told The Epoch Times:

“There are brazen shootings and killings in broad daylight which did not happen before this past year. The violence is no longer limited to nights or certain neighborhoods.”

A 64-year-old woman said companies are also struggling in the violent atmosphere that has become daily life in Portland:

“Some companies are having a hard time recruiting employees because people perceive Portland as a dangerous place and don’t want to move here. The violence and especially the perception of lawlessness have very much affected hiring.”

The mainstream media covered the violent protests and riots in Portland for about 60 days following the death of George Floyd at the hands of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin but have widely ignored the continued violence since.

After the initial 60 days of unrest, then-President Donald Trump ordered federal troops to intervene in the city in July 2929. The move was in response to nightly vandalism at the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse and a fire set at the Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct building.

Jason Dunn, U.S. Attorney, District of Colorado in Portland, said at the time:

“(There is) widespread use of rocks, lasers, slingshots loaded with ball-bearings, explosives, and other methods to assault federal employees. There are also nightly attempts by rioters to storm federal buildings and destroy them.”

After an initial two weeks of intervention by federal troops, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler demanded they leave or be restricted to federal buildings. The call was echoed by several Democratic members of Congress.

Following the removal of federal officers, national media coverage almost completely ended. Yet even the election of Democrat Joe Biden to the presidency and the conviction of Derek Chauvin in Floyd’s death have not stopped the violence in Portland.

The Epoch Times reported:

“While most left-wing activists welcomed the Biden inauguration, Portland activists unveiled signs that read “WE DON’T WANT BIDEN—WE WANT REVENGE” and swarmed the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility, throwing rocks, bottles, and a pepper-like spray from paintball guns.

“’At one point, the air was so thick with gas and smoke that it was difficult to see,’ reported Oregon Live. Demonstrators also smashed the windows of Oregon’s Democratic Party headquarters.”

Riots also broke out following the police shooting of Daunte Wright in Minneapolis in April, which included setting fire to the Portland Police Association headquarters.

Shockingly, riots broke out in Portland following the conviction of Derek Chauvin for second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd. The conviction was praised by left-wing groups nationwide, except in Portland, where they smashed windows and damaged property.

The residents of Portland are growing weary of the violence and said that a small minority of people are holding the rest of the city hostage. Residents point out that only six percent of Portland is black, and that the violence is primarily caused by young, white Antifa supporters.

Portlanders interviewed said that black and white moderates are afraid to speak out against the violence for fear of reprisals. a downtown Portland employer told reporters:

“My black employees say, ‘We want the police guarding our homes’ and that the violent protestors do not speak for them. Gestapo-like atmosphere that currently exists.

“Friends of mine who survived civil wars in Southeast Asia and other places are especially aghast at the brazen violence that is tolerated in Portland and how criminals are emboldened. They spend one night in jail and are bailed out the next day!”

One reason for the continued violence is placed squarely on the City Council, which cut the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) budget by $18 million in 2020 folding to calls by protesters to defund the police.

PPB Sergeant Kevin Allen said the budget cuts resulted in program cuts and response time issues:

“Certainly, it has made it more difficult for members of the Bureau. We believe the Youth Services Division (school resource officers) was a progressive program. Officers were a caring resource to students and frequently employed restorative justice principles to avoid arresting students. Likewise, we felt that having Portland officers in a dedicated Transit Police Department made the transit system safer. Our Traffic Division was dedicated to making our roads safer.

“That said, we work for the community, and we will be the agency that the community wants. It’s difficult now because due to budgets and staffing issues, our officers spend a lot of time explaining why their responses were delayed or why they can’t engage in an investigation into a crime. Even the ‘low level’ crimes are important to the victim.”

Brian Hunzeker, president of the Portland Police Union, said the budget cuts make it hard to police the violence. He told city leaders in January:

“I would say look at the data that is in front of you. You have reduced and taken away certain divisions of the police force that serve an integral role and you can see the data.”

Hunzeker pointed to the slower response times and the increase in gun violence that coincided with the city’s decision to disband the Gun Violence Reduction Team. He continued:

“Police cannot solve every single gun violence and every single homicide just by increasing numbers, but you can see by stats and data that without the police, they go on the rise.”

In April, Mayor Wheeler, who refused federal help last year, asked the public to stand together to “take the city back” from violent rioters:

“They want to burn, they want to bash, they want to intimidate, they want to assault. Our job is to unmask them, arrest them and prosecute them.”

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