Here’s why it’s ridiculous that Mayor Ted Wheeler didn’t learn until his police chief said it at a press conference that his Portland Police Bureau would be coordinating with Oregon State Police during the purported transition away from the paramilitary shock troops of Mine Furor’s Interior Ministry Department of Homeland Security.

If we’re going to have a militarized police force — and it’s going to take time to demilitarize in addition to defunding them — than the clear chain-of-command needs to stop and start with the elected civilian political official in charge of the Police Bureau. In this case, that means Wheeler.

His “apology” for the use of tear gas is an empty one given that his approach to the police is to defer to their decisions (per today’s news conference) or to “ask” them to do things rather than order them to do things (per his at-the-protest “listening session”).

The problem is that Wheeler is not required by law to have any political skin in the “game” of being the police commissioner.

Under the city’s 0635.10 Crowd Management/Crowd Control directive (currently under review, according to that page), it’s the responsibility of the Crowd Management Incident Commander to “[a]uthorize the deployment of riot control agents and/or special impact munitions, when objectively reasonable, to address civil disturbance and crowd dispersal”.

This should change.

Wheeler, as police commissioner, should be required either by city code or by policy directive to be present at the Justice Center or other appropriate command center whenever there’s a protest. I’ve literally no idea if he ever is; for all I know during these nightly protests he is asleep and finding out the next day what his police happened to do.

Further, it should be the express purview of the police commissioner — the elected political official responsible for the Police Bureau — to authorize the use of “riot control agents and/or special impact munitions”, barring the outright prohibition of such weapons.

(Wheeler’s statement of early June doesn’t count, as it continues to allow the Bureau’s incident commander the wide leeway to determine what is “violence that threatens life safety”.)

Not the chief, or the incident commander, or any other agent employed by our militarized police force. Only and solely the police commissioner.

For the Mayor’s apology to mean anything for the future of the use of riot control weapons, he needs to take actual, not merely rhetorical, responsibility for their use.

Given his habitual deference to the Police Bureau, however, I think it’s fairly clear that the only reason Wheeler maintains an in-name-only control of the Bureau is to protect them from any day-to-day oversight.

Ted Wheeler today was shown that as Police Commissioner he knows less about what his police are doing than does Acting Secretary Chad Wolf Chief Chuck Lovell. What a sentient farce is this guy.

“I will defer to the Portland Police Bureau and state police,” Wheeler said, when asked whether PPB would be working with OSP near the courthouse. “My understanding, the last time I was updated two days ago, was that it would exclusively be OSP. If that’s changed, I’m not aware of it.”

When asked a similar question, Lovell said that “OSP and PPB will work jointly”—and indicated that OSP will serve as a link between Portland police and federal officers who will remain in Portland after the speciality team leaves.

I guess the reason why Wheeler didn’t want to hand over the Police Bureau to Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty is because he doesn’t actually want anyone on the City Council controlling the Police Bureau at all.

Some new polling of Oregonians from DHM Research and the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center includes some fairly interesting results when it comes to various proposed changes to how we structure policing.

As noted by Aaron Michael Brown, whether they understand it in these terms or not, 58% of Oregonians support defunding the police, while 37% support abolishing police departments outright.

On a sitenote: one of my pet peeves is polling a question that demands ungathered context in order to understand the results. In this instance, the matter of approval or disapproval “of the way police have responded to the protests”. People who think police should be more tough and those who think police should be more lenient can state that they disapprove of the police response.

These types of poll questions are effectively useless for public policy discussions, unless you’ve got the per-respondent answers on whether or not they support the protests; even then, it’s not going to precisely correlate and give you a full sense.

I guess my peevish sidenote ended up being longer than my main point of interest.

Well, this is disturbing: the out of control policing-by-gas downtown appears to be causing menstrual irregularities, including “[t]rans protesters who had stopped menstruating since taking testosterone [seeing] their cycles restart”, according to interviews with “36 protesters, ranging in age from 17 to 43” conducted by OPB.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown says that “[b]eginning Thursday, all Customs and Border Protection and ICE officers will leave downtown Portland”; Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf says they “will continue to maintain our current, augmented federal law enforcement personnel in Portland until we are assured that the Hatfield Federal Courthouse and other federal properties will no longer be attacked”. Question: is Wolf saving face, or did Brown get played?

Jill Lepore’s examination for The New Yorker of the “invention of the police” has been sitting in my Pocket account, and so on my Kobo, for weeks, waiting. I finally got to it tonight, in part because Jack Bogdanski linked to William Finnegan’s New York-centric examination of the outsized role of police unions in protecting the police from reform. The two pieces are worth reading together, if you haven’t gotten to either of them yet.

Where do we even begin with United States Attorney for Oregon, Billy J. Williams? The latest, per Maxine Bernstein of The Oregonian, are his remarks about the nightly protests outside the Federal courthouse.

It is absolutely destroying the soul of our city.

Let’s get some things straight. The map below encompasses almost all of Portland. You can see my the marker the location of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse. (Ignore the blue dot; that’s me.)

This next map shows the four square blocks at the core of the nightly protests in downtown Portland, consisting of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse, the Multnomah County Detention Center and Portland Police Bureau (collectively known as the Justice Center), and Chapman and Lownsdale Squares.

This geography does not represent the soul of Portland, except in a way that Williams never would concede, and perhaps can’t even see: that the people who have been gathering there every night for two months represent the soul of Portland, and that it’s been the alternating and sometimes combined forces of Williams’ government and our own local which have been seeking to destroy it.

That soul is very much on display not just on the frontlines at the federals’ fence, which sits not just on the United States property of the courthouse but on City of Portland property in the street and bike lane, but across the street in Lownsdale park, where everyone from street medics to food tents set up night after night.

Does he see that soul? No. In fact, per Bernstein, he hates what’s become of Lownsdale Square.

It doesn’t help anything.. It’s pretty astounding to see. That is an issue the city of Portland needs to address.

Williams can’t help but see his Federal government as the center of things. “This building is the solution not the problem,” Bernstein quotes him as saying. “It absolutely represents everything essential to our system of justice.”

Setting aside whether that’s ever been the case, it’s certainly not the case right now. His building represents everything that’s wrong with our system of justice, in that it hosts paramilitary forces which came to town to — in Mine Furor’s own words — quell a demonstration for racial justice because our own Portland Police apparently were not being violent enough, were just not quite using enough tear gas on our own citizens.

Williams needs to do some soul searching, for his own as well as for Portland’s, which has been staring him in the face for two months.

Conrad Wilson and Jonathan Levinson have a pretty good look at the internal and external tensions — or, let’s say, the differences of opinion — around the various approaches, strategies, and tactics of two months of Portland protests. They talk to a number of Black activists and voices on the ground, and its great primer for understanding the dynamics of this particular debate.

In the crowd that night was Byrd, a middle aged Black woman who has been attending protests at the Justice Center since they started. Among other events bringing people to the street, she said the federal law enforcement officers’ actions have made people scared that their fundamental right to protest is in jeopardy. The hand wringing over white people in the protest misses the bigger point, she said.

“You’re either for human rights or you aren’t,” Byrd said. “We can’t concede the point that now there’s an energy that is bent toward racial justice for Black people. And that’s the focus.”

They also report that Mine Furor is increasing the numbers of paramilitary shock troops in Portland, which makes Ed Pilkington’s unsettling profile of Customs and Border Protection generally — and Bortac specifically — just that much more unsettling (via Andy Baio).

As news circulated of demonstrators being shot in the face with “less lethal” munitions, and of unidentified masked agents in camouflage strong-arming civilians into unmarked vans, the nightmare scenario Tomsheck had heard expressed by his bosses almost a decade ago – of border patrol becoming a nationwide militarized force operating outside constitutional constraints – was becoming real.

“Border patrol has always seen itself as a militarized force, and that aspiration is now being enabled by the current administration,” Tomsheck told the Guardian.

It’s unnerving to see in Pilkington’s piece that discussions of CBP in fact are beginning to refer to “the interior”; recall David A. Graham’s recent depiction of Trump effectively trying to cobble together a de facto Interior Ministry.

Maxine Bernstein’s bizarre puffery about what it’s like for Mine Furor’s paramilitary shock troops inside the Federal courthouse sets a new standard for literal puffery with this paragraph.

The federal officers needed to wait them out. One deputy marshal joked that most people until now didn’t have a clue who they are or what they do and that when he says he works for the Marshals Service, people sometimes look at him and ask, “marshmallow?”

For the record, Marshmallows are fans of Veronica Mars, not wannabe Interior Ministry troops for Trump’s improvisational fascism.

Where is Ted Wheeler? As near as I can tell, no one’s heard from the Mayor since a Saturday morning tweet (I’ve tried looking for news stories that might have gotten a more recent quote but to no avail; ping me if I missed something), and it’s difficult to view this silence as anything other than an inability for him to hop onto national newscasts to posture about Donald Trump and the abuses of his paramilitary shock troops from the Department of Homeland Security given that last night the Portland Police that he commands as Police Commissioner were full partners and participants in those very abuses. Wheeler and the rest of the City Council literally just this past week adopted a resolution prohibiting that, so I’d really love it if the local press corps could get an answer here: is the Mayor just trying to snow us all with his preening on television, while actually supporting his police’s behavior, or has he simply lost any and all control over them?

In addition to reportedly rendering the first seven floors of the Federal courthouse uninhabitable due to their own tear gas, paramilitary shock troops from Mine Furor’s ad-hoc wannabe Interior Ministry also are gassing inmates in jail at the Justice Center next door.

The sheriff’s department couldn’t say how many inmates or employees were affected. But tear gas infiltrated the sixth, seventh and eighth floors of the detention center and affected more than 60 inmates, according to defense lawyers who serve as public defenders to those incarcerated. The center’s eighth floor, which houses women, was the hardest hit, according to Maxfield.

On the morning of July 21, Maxfield said female inmates woke around 1 am to the sounds of another inmate screaming, “I can’t breathe!” As the gas continued seeping into cells, inmates began to panic because no jail staff are present at night. “So there was no one to help them get to a safe place,” Maxfield said. “It was pretty terrifying.”

Nothing suspicious about the feds sending paramilitary shock troops to Seattle so they are there “if needed” the day before they then sue Seattle to stop (pdf) a ban on the use of tear gas. The judge in the case has issued the temporary restraining order but called it “very temporary” while he hears from more parties.