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Summary of Peacekeepers Meeting with Eric King and Mike Krantz. 8/18/2020

On Tuesday (August 18, 2020) representatives from the Central Oregon Peacekeepers met with City Manager Eric King and new Chief of Police Mike Krantz. In attendance to observe were two local pastors. The meeting was respectful and productive, but hard. We told Chief Krantz up front that we intended to ask him hard questions, but that none of them were intended to be “gotchas”. We expressed that our goal was to build better understanding between the activist community and the police department, specifically around the events of August 12 at Crane Shed Commons. To his credit, Chief Krantz welcomed this invitation for difficult conversation, and agreed that hard conversations are vital for community building. We requested permission to record audio of the conversation for note taking purposes. Chief Krantz responded that he would prefer we didn’t, and we agreed to respect that request. We did take extensive notes, and the following recollections were written down immediately following the meeting.

The Peacekeepers had three major “Boxes” of questions for Chief Krantz, which were asked in order. The summary of those questions follows.

* Box 1: Cooperation with ICE.

The Peacekeepers asked Chief Krantz if Bend Police as an Agency cooperated in any way with any agency of DHS (ICE, Border Patrol, etc) in their removal operation on Wednesday the 12th, or if any individual officer of BPD cooperated with any individual agent from DHS in their removal operation. Chief Krantz initially answered “No.” Peacekeepers followed up by asking if he was certain, and if there were any actions at all that could be construed as cooperation. When asked this way, Krantz did admit that ICE agents had been permitted to charge their cellphones in Bend Police vehicles.

Chief Krantz said that letting them charge their phones was “Just the human thing to do.”

The Peacekeepers responded that this revelation was extremely troubling to us. The gas in those BPD vehicles is paid for by the people of Bend. That gas charged the cellphones of ICE agents involved in removal operations. The very simple fact is that this is material support for ICE in the effort to deport two Bend residents.Those cellphones were then used to call in the The Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC). BORTAC did eventually come. They took the two men off the bus, and in the process of doing so brutalized peaceful protesters with their fists, boots, and gas. We told Chief Krantz that we thought it was both immoral and potentially illegal that Bend Police resources were used to charge ICE cellphones to coordinate those operations. Chief Krantz responded that all of those things were “going to happen anyway”, and reiterated his belief that it was not illegal. His position was that it was not cooperation, because the individuals were already in custody.

* Box 2: Involvement of Local Agencies.

This “box” of questions had to do with the arrival of the Central Oregon Emergency Response Team (CERT), and with the involvement of the Prineville Police Department on August 12.

The Peacekeepers first questions had to do with the timeline of events leading up to the arrival of CERT. The Chief had put out a press conference saying that early in the events of 8/12, a call had been put out for all available units to respond to the Crane Shed Commons. In his statement and in this meeting, Chief Krantz claimed that CERT had come from training operations (though he admitted he did not know where that training was taking place or what kind of training it was). His position was that CERT responded as quickly as they could, and with little information because the situation was still unfolding. He claimed that this combination of their coming in from training and not having a full picture of the events on the ground explains why CERT arrived in tactical gear and with AR-15 rifles.

The Peacekeepers had several objections to this narrative.

The first objection has to do with the timeline. Chief Krantz says that he first became aware of the events at Crane Shed around 1:00pm. This is consistent with the fact that the Peacekeeper livestream began at around 12:30. However, Garrett Andrews of the Bend Bulletin live tweeted the arrival of CERT at 2:38 pm. This means that CERT had somewhere in the neighborhood of an hour and a half between being notified and their arrival on scene.

During that hour and a half, both the Peacekeepers and members of local clergy had already been in productive communication with Captain Nick Parker of BPD. The scene was peaceful and nonviolent. Officers in soft clothes were already present, engaged with peaceful protesters, and BPD had every reason to know that the event was proceeding without threats to officers. There was more than enough time for CERT to be made aware of all of that.

Further, the Peacekeepers informed Chief Krantz that we knew CERT did not, in fact, go straight to Crane Shed. They first staged in a dirt lot across the street from “IBEX global”, near Wilson and Hill (and we have a photo). Chief Krantz said he was unaware of the staging at IBEX, and asked where that was located. Eric King brought up a map to help orient everyone. Once the map was up, the Peacekeeper representative at the meeting reiterated the timeline: CERT got the call to respond some time shortly after 1:00...then they came into town from wherever their training was...then they staged at IBEX global for some time...then they finally arrived at Crane Shed at 2:30pm. We told Chief Krantz that these do not sound like the actions of officers responding quickly and without information to guide them. Instead, these actions demonstrate a deliberation and a decision making process. We told Chief Krantz that it defies credulity that the decision to respond with rifles and in tactical gear was not a conscious one. Chief Krantz offered disagreement with this timeline, indicating that he believed CERT arrived earlier than the 2:30 recalled by Peacekeepers and reported by Garrett Andrews at the Bulletin. Chief Krantz did not offer an alternative timeline, or evidence that our timeline was flawed.

The Peacekeeper representative also told Chief Krantz that the way in which CERT came on scene was disturbing. When they arrived, a Peacekeeper was engaged actively in conversation with Captain Nick Parker. This Peacekeeper looked over Parker’s shoulder and saw the CERT officers approaching, and one of them had his finger inside the trigger guard and on the trigger of his rifle. We told Chief Krantz that our Peacekeeper had shouted over Captain Parker’s shoulder “Can we have some trigger discipline here!?” Our Peacekeeper had said that nobody there was a threat to police, that they did not need rifles, and they certainly didn’t need fingers on the triggers. Chief Krantz did not respond to this issue of the trigger discipline from CERT.

Moving on, we asked the Chief who had made the decision for CERT to arrive in tactical gear with rifles. We told him that, as we see it, one of two things had to have happened. Either somebody ordered that response (which seems wildly inappropriate to the circumstances on the ground), or it had simply happened on it’s own without anybody giving the order. To the Peacekeepers, both options seem equally disturbing. Based on Chief Krantz’s answers, it appears to be the second. CERT operates with such autonomy that they simply decided on their own to arrive at a peaceful protest in tactical gear, with rifles (and at least one officer with finger on trigger). The Peacekeepers observed that this seems like a major problem with policy regarding CERT, and should be addressed.

To this, Chief Krantz insisted that he agreed the response of CERT in tactical gear and rifles was unnecessary, and that he was the one who had ordered them to stand down. In fact...he said that he gave that order several times. While the Peacekeepers were pleased to learn that the Chief shared our belief that the CERT response was uncalled for given the situation, we were disturbed to discover that it took more than one order from the Chief to cause them to stand down.

After discussing CERT, the Peacekeepers asked Chief Krantz why officers from the Prineville Police Department were staged near the protest. Chief Krantz said that he did not know why they were there, and that he did not call them. He allowed for the possibility that those officers were part of the CERT team, and that maybe they had changed out of their tactical gear into their regular uniforms when the Peacekeepers saw and photographed them. We told Chief Krantz that the fact he did not know why Prineville PD was on the scene or who had called them was also quite disturbing. We communicated to him our experience of seeing Prineville PD coordinate and cooperate with violent white supremacists at protest events in Prineville. Chief Krantz did not have a response.

* Box 3: The DHS justification for attacking.

When the BORTAC commander went on the bullhorn at the peaceful protest against ICE on 8/12, the justification he gave for attacking the crowd was that there was a “medical emergency” on the buses. He asserted that one of the drivers was diabetic, and required medical attention. The Peacekeepers asked Chief Krantz if this was his understanding of the justification given by ICE, and he allowed that it was.

The Peacekeepers then discussed actions that had been taken all day that make this assertion by ICE objectively false. For several hours before the arrival of BORTAC, Peacekeepers and local clergy had been trying (to no avail) to get ICE to agree to allow a welfare check of the individuals detained on the buses. This request was being passed through BPD to ICE. It was denied. In the course of these repeated requests for a wellness check, the Peacekeepers and clergy said MANY times that we would like to extend an unconditional offer to create a safe exit for the drivers if they wanted or needed to leave the buses. We inquired about their health and safety, organizers among the protesters took them water and food, and over and over again we told BPD that we would “part the red sea” to make a lane for the drivers to safely leave the buses. We told Chief Krantz that not only had we offered to help the drivers leave the buses, but that if they wanted to stay on the buses we were happy to facilitate any assistance they needed getting to them. And we made good on that offer by delivering food and water to the drivers.

Throughout the course of the events that day, the Peacekeepers and clergy had demonstrated that we were capable of influencing the protesters in positive and constructive ways. Chief Krantz admitted that he knew we had found elements in the crowd attempting to vandalize the buses and we removed them. He knew that we had deescalated several events that looked like they might become fights. And he was aware that we had arranged for food and water to be taken to the drivers of the buses.

We told Chief Krantz that it was quite frustrating for BPD to not communicate this knowledge, and that we believed they had an opportunity to refute the assertion of BORTAC that their brutal tactics were justified in order to respond to a “medical emergency.” If there had been a medical emergency, the peaceful protesters had spent hours going out of their way to communicate to BPD that we were capable of resolving it without the use of force. BPD knew that, because we had told them that. But BPD chose not to say that publicly. We told Chief Krantz that it felt like a betrayal.

To this, the Chief responded “Well, that’s your narrative. The feds had their narrative, and you have yours.” We responded that we strongly disagree with the notion that any of that was “narrative”. It happens to be a fact, and not an opinion, that the offer to safely escort the drivers away from the bus was made many times, without condition.

The Peacekeepers feel it’s important to simultaneously thank Chief Krantz for this meeting, and also strongly object to many of the things he said. We are genuinely grateful to the Chief for being willing to have the conversation, for listening to hard questions and answering them in what appeared to be good faith.

That said...many (if not most) of the answers themselves were deeply concerning. Below are the major objections Peacekeepers have to the response on 8/12:

- Using BPD resources (gasoline and vehicles) to charge the cellphones of ICE agents involved in removal operations is wrong and probably illegal. Those phones were used in efforts to deport Bend residents. The fact that those phones were used to call BORTAC, who then came to town and brutally attacked Central Oregonians is simply unacceptable.

- It defies credulity that CERT did not know the protest was peaceful when they arrived. They had an hour and a half to be brought up to speed. They did not deploy directly to Crane Shed, but rather stopped first to stage up at IBEX global. During this time, BPD had been in communication with Peacekeepers and clergy, and knew that the protest did not call for a SWAT team style response.

- The lack of trigger discipline from the CERT officer chastised by our Peacekeeper on the scene is simply unacceptable. No police officer should ever be walking around with their finger on the trigger of a rifle when no threat is immediately evident. This single failure of discipline had the potential to escalate the entire event.

- We should know who ordered CERT to arrive in tactical gear and with rifles. It is unacceptable that they simply made this decision on their own, in the absence of clear orders from the incident commander.

- Likewise, it is unacceptable that it apparently took the Chief of Police several attempts to successfully make CERT stand down. This is not the sort of order that should have to be given twice.

- We should know why Prineville officers were on scene. We should know who called them, and why. If they were CERT members, we should know that. If they responded because they were called in to supplement BPD, then we should know that.

- ICE and BORTAC lied about why they attacked our peaceful protesters. There was no medical emergency that required the use of force. BPD knew that, because Peacekeepers and clergy had been telling them for hours that we could get the drivers safely off the bus. We proved it many times by removing trouble making elements from the crowd, deescalating conflicts before they became real problems, and finally by delivering food and water to the drivers. BPD had an opportunity to tell the world that ICE was manufacturing a reason to attack peaceful protesters, and failed to do so.

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