Authorities in Portland, Ore. may be racist in the way they define “riot,” according to National Public Radio.
The taxpayer-funded media outlet aired a report Thursday in which it claimed that state laws governing riot declarations “have roots in the state’s racist history.”
An accompanying article by Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Jonathan Levinson linked to a June interview with Black studies educator and writer Walidah Imarisha, who claimed the state’s historically racist laws “absolutely” echo through Oregon’s current governance.
“Oregon began as a white-only state,” Levinson wrote. “While it banned slavery at its founding, the state adopted strict Black exclusionary laws which had been in place in the territory for decades. The law banned Black people from living in the state or owning property.”
The Portland Police Department and Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comments. As Levinson’s article notes, Portland Police Bureau Deputy Chief Chris Davis defined riots in a video posted online.
“A riot is when six or more people engage in tumultuous and violent conduct, and thereby intentionally or recklessly create a grave risk of causing public alarm, excluding people who are engaged in passive resistance,” Davis says in the clip.
Levinson’s article argued that definition “is subjective, and the dispersal inevitably affects hundreds of nonviolent protesters.”
Apart from the clip of Davis defining a riot and an annoucement declaring protest to be a riot, no police officers are quoted in Levinson’s report. He does interview Oregon Democratic Rep. Janelle Bynum, who has sponsored legislation requiring police to declare a riot before using tear gas on demonstrators.
“A lot of the riot and crowd control philosophy and statute was developed around the ’60s and ’70s when protests around some of the very same things- rights for Black people – were taking place in the state and particularly in Portland,” Bynum told NPR.
Levinson also quotes a protester who suggests the regulations were too vague.
Dan Gainor, Vice President at the conservative Media Research Center, blasted NPR’s article in a statement to Fox News.
“NPR has joined with the rest of the major media telling Americans that riots are not riots. Except now, Levinson claims even calling a riot by its true name is racist. He acknowledges the violence of protesters and then disputes calling what they do a riot,” he said.
“He also calls water bottles ‘protesters’ weapon of choice,’ without admitting that the rioters freeze them and use them as potentially deadly projectiles. Of course, this all happens on taxpayer-funded NPR. And we all have to pay for his pro-rioter lies.”
Story cited here.