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Crimes Against Protesters Are Not Second Class Crimes



BREAKING: The Peacekeepers have just sent the following open letter to 34 local elected officials, law enforcement personnel, and journalists.

............


To whom it may concern,


We are writing to raise awareness about an appalling attack on a Central Oregonian exercising their First Amendment rights, and of the law enforcement response. This crime involved hate speech, a firearm, and an injured victim...but the Bend Police Department chose not to arrest and detain the perpetrators. Instead, they wrote a ticket and released these two armed and violent criminals back onto the streets.


In downtown Bend on July 11th 2020, Darrell Goddard and Robert Thompson of LaPine drove by a peaceful demonstration shouting homopbobic slurs. After engaging in this hate speech, the two men attacked a protester with a truck door, knocked him to the ground where they continued to assault him, and then threatened him with a handgun. The victim suffered cuts and bruises and a bystander’s vehicle was damaged. The assailants then fled the scene.


The Central Oregon Peacekeepers reached out to the Bend Police Department asking how an attack such as this could result in citing and releasing the criminals involved. We were informed that the Deschutes County Adult Jail had implemented Covid related acceptance guidelines for arrestees, and that BPD was simply acting in accordance with those guidelines. The Peacekeepers asked for and eventually were able to obtain that policy. We can unequivocally say that the policy was NOT followed in the case of the crimes committed by Darell Goddard and Robert Thompson.


We have attached a copy of the detention policy, and you will see that in “Acceptance guidelines for all arrestees:” section 2. b) “Unlawful Use of a Weapon {CF, ORS 166.220)” is listed as one of the crimes that arrestees will be accepted into the jail for. In the State of Oregon vs. Ziska (2014) the Oregon Supreme Court found that “when a person carries or possesses a weapon with intent to ‘use’ it to threaten or menace another unlawfully, without necessarily intending to injure the other person”, then they have committed the crime of unlawful use of a weapon. In the Ziska case, the weapon was a crowbar and there were no injuries. In the case of Goddard and Thompson, the weapon was a loaded firearm and they had already physically assaulted and injured the victim.


Later in that document (Item 8.b) under “Acceptance Guidelines”, it is stated that a suspect can be held if “defendant is currently a significant risk of causing physical harm to another.” These two perpetrators fled the scene of their crime with a loaded weapon. How can that possibly be interpreted as anything but a significant risk to others? Goddard and Thompson proved that they are a significant danger to anyone who expresses ideas they don’t like.

As this letter is being written, there are nonviolent suspects sitting in detention in the Deschutes County Adult Jail. There are people being held for DUI, and for third degree theft. There is at least one person being held for “unlawful use of a weapon” and several for 4th degree assault. Every day since the attack on the protester, BPD officers have made decisions to arrest, detain, and jail suspects for crimes that were objectively less serious and perpetrators objectively less dangerous than Goddard and Thompson.


The Central Oregon Peacekeepers are calling on our local elected officials to:

1) Explain why our law enforcement agencies are jailing nonviolent offenders during a pandemic, but allowing those who violently assault peaceful protesters to go free.

2) Engage with the local social justice community on examining the current detention policy at the Deschutes County jail. The current policy prioritizes punishment over safety, and seeks to detain those most easily convicted, rather than those who necessarily pose the greatest threat to public safety. The Peacekeepers believe that a policy can be enacted that delivers equal justice under the law, protects inmates and officers during this pandemic, addresses the problems of over incarceration of vulnerable communities, and focuses on public safety over ease of prosecution.

Activists, organizers, and protesters are being attacked in our community. There have been attacks with vehicles, death threats, battery, and menacing with firearms and other weapons. The Peacekeepers demand that our law enforcement agencies and elected officials take these matters seriously, and stop treating demonstrators as second class victims.


We call on the people of Central Oregon to demand justice, and equal protection under the law. We’ve had productive, good faith conversations with local officials (including the DA and various law enforcement officials) in the past. We trust in that good faith now, and look forward to conversations to create progress on these issues.

Sincerely,


- The Central Oregon Peacekeepers


“The Peacekeepers are dedicated to the safety of the Central Oregon activist community. We organize safety volunteers, identify violent counter-protesters, and research public figures. If you believe in justice, equity, and inclusion, we're here for you.”

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