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Portland Superintendent Kicks School Resource Officers Out

Portland Public Schools Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero announced the end of the SRO program on Thursday.

Portland, OR – The superintendent of Portland Public Schools (PPS) has severed ties with the Portland Police Bureau (PPB)’s school resource officer program.

“The time is now,” PPS Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero tweeted on Thursday afternoon. “I am discontinuing the regular presence of School Resource Officers @PPSConnect. We need to re-examine our relationship with the PPB.”

The school resource officer program provided area schools with 11 armed police officers, The Oregonian reported.

Guerrero said that in lieu of police, the district plans to invest “in direct student supports” such as counselors, culturally-specific partnerships and social workers for its 49,000-plus students.

“What we are hearing loudly and clearly from the community is that they do not want this direct, physical, ongoing presence in the schools,” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said, adding that he had already decided to end the program prior to Guerrero’s decision, OPB reported.

The superintendent nixed the school resource officer program just one day after Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty’s latest call to defund the $1.6 million program, The Oregonian reported.

Hardesty, who is the only black member of the Portland City Council, is also pushing to defund transit police and Portland’s Violence Reduction Team.

Although armed officers will no longer patrol the hallways of the city’s schools, police will still respond to calls for service on any of the campuses whenever they are needed, Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner said, according to The Oregonian.

Students likely won’t have to wait more than ten extra minutes for officers to arrive during an active shooter.

Guerrero made the decision to discontinue the program in the wake of the May 25 in-custody death of 46-year-old George Floyd.

“These violent acts traumatize us as students, family members, educators, and community members, and I share in your grief and anguish,” Guerrero said at the time, according to OPB. “Now more than ever, we must remain resolute in our commitment to Black students.”

Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was arrested on May 29 and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death during his arrest. His charges have since been upgraded to second-degree murder.

On June 3, former Minneapolis Police Officers Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder for their role in Floyd’s arrest.

The officers had responded to a call about a counterfeit $20 that Floyd had allegedly used to make a purchase at a deli.

Store employees pointed out the suspect to police and they arrested him.

The complaint used to charge Chauvin said Floyd actively resisted arrest and then fought being put in the back of a police car once he had been handcuffed.

Viral cell phone video showed then-Officer Chauvin and three other officers holding Floyd on the ground.

The video showed Officer Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, during which time the suspect lost consciousness.

Chauvin remained on Floyd’s neck for almost three minutes after he was unresponsive.

Floyd was pronounced dead 90 minutes later at the hospital.

After three days of violent riots and looting that left Minneapolis and its sister city, St. Paul, in flames, the state investigative agency announced it making an arrest.

Chauvin was taken into custody by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension four days after the incident and held on a $500,000 bond, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington announced, according to WCCO.

According to charging documents, the medical examiner’s preliminary report found no physical evidence that Floyd had suffered from asphyxiation or strangulation at the hands of the Minneapolis police.

The preliminary autopsy findings indicated Floyd had died from a combination of his underlying medical problems and possible substances.

“The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death,” according to the complaint.

But veteran forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden told reporters on Monday at the Floyd family press conference that his independent autopsy determined that the man had died of asphyxiation much in the same way Eric Garner died from a choke hold in New York in 2014, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

The Eric Garner autopsy report showed no damage to any area of his neck, and it was determined that he died of a medical emergency induced by officers who were arresting him.

But the final autopsy findings released by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office hours later confirmed that Floyd had died from heart failure.

“Cause of death: Cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression,” Floyd’s autopsy said. “Manner of death: Homicide.”

“How injury occurred: Decedent experienced a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement officer(s),” the report continued. “Other significant conditions: Arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease; fentanyl intoxication; recent methamphetamine use.”

The toxicology results showing fentanyl and methamphetamine directly contradicted assertions by the forensic pathologist that Floyd’s family’s attorneys hired to dispute the initial medical examiner’s report.

And a postmortem nasal swab showed that Floyd tested positive SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, according to KSTP. He had previously tested positive for COVID-19 in April 3.

Protests erupted in the Twin Cities after Floyd’s death, leaving both Minneapolis and the state’s capital of St. Paul burned, looted, and destroyed.

Rioters overran and torched the Minneapolis Police Department’s 3rd Precinct where the officers accused of Floyd’s homicide were assigned.

Protests spread across the United States, and became very violent in major cities like Atlanta, Dallas, Portland, Oakland, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Washington, DC.

Holly Matkin - June Thu, 2020

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