More than 1,000 demonstrators swarmed Portland’s streets June 1 to protest institutional racism and violence by police against people of color. Police advance on the protesters on Middle Street. Derek Davis / Portland Press Herald

PORTLAND — Two city councilors have called for an independent review of police actions at two Black Lives Matter protests this month in addition to a report the council expects to receive from the Portland Police Department next week.

Mayor Kate Snyder said Monday a “full report as to how our Portland Police Department officers conducted themselves” will be presented during a June 22 workshop along with the “suggestion we have an independent investigation and report.”

Councilors Kimberly Cook and Pious Ali want an outside examination of what transpired at the June 1 and June 2 rallies downtown that ended with dozens of arrests of protesters. Councilor Jill Duson has said previously that she also supports both a report from the department and an independent review.

An independent review is important “to show that our city leaders are listening to the calls for change and demonstrate our respect for all voices,” Cook said.

The June 1 rally began with hundreds of people peacefully demonstrating in the streets of Portland, but ended with police deploying riot gear and using pepper spray to control the crowd, which police said had begun throwing bottles, bricks and rocks at officers. Close to two dozen people were arrested, mostly for failure to disperse, and many businesses were vandalized. The rally on June 2 also started peacefully but ended with 10 failure to disperse arrests.

“We have the incident reports for the arrests that were made and we are trying to get a broader picture in terms of progression, the timeline and the responses that were made in the field that night,” Portland Police Chief Frank Clark said at a June 9 Health & Human Services and Public Safety Committee meeting. The meeting included a presentation on the department’s practices and policies on hiring, use of force, internal and external complaint investigations and the training officers receive.

Whether an independent review is necessary may depend on what is presented at next Monday’s session, Councilor Nick Mavodones said.

“I don’t want to weigh in on it,” he said at the June 9 meeting. “I want to wait for the information from the 22nd.”

Ali, who did not attend the demonstrations, said by the morning after the June 1 protest his phone was full of messages from attendees and non-attendees asking him to look into what happened.

“In my role as a city councilor, I am in a position of asking what happened. I can ask the police department and they can give me their perspective, but they may not see it from the same perspective of other people there,” Ali said. “It is my duty to respond to my constituents. I am hoping what comes out of this will help us with guidance for the next time we get into a situation like that.”

Cook, who didn’t attend the rallies either, said she also has heard from people who were concerned about the way police acted during the protest.

“The purpose of requesting a review and report is to evaluate what happened, whether any actions were inappropriate and to learn from the events on those nights,” she said.

The Police Citizens Review Subcommittee, a group set up in 2001 to review how police investigate internal and external complaints, has not received any complaints about the protests. Clark referred questions about whether the Police Department had received any internal or external complaints about officer conduct at the June 1-2 rallies to City Communications Director Jessica Grondin. Grondin did not respond to a Forecaster request for information.

Some protesters have said they were caught off guard by officers who were posted atop nearby buildings at the June 2 rally.

Grondin told the Press Herald the two officers on the rooftop June 2 were spotters.

“They were armed, but they were not pointing a firearm at anyone,” Grondin told the newspaper. “What is seen in photos being pointed is a spotting scope on a tripod. It is a completely separate device and not part of the firearm.”

Police Commander James Sweatt said officers were stationed on the roof after police received a tip that there might be an armed counterprotest at the June 2 rally.

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