At-large Portland City Councilor Pious Ali condemned recent acts of violence against police at a brief news conference Friday.

But Ali, who has been outspoken about the need to combat systemic racism in city government, said he will also still push for an independent review of how police handled a June 1 demonstration that turned violent and resulted in 23 arrests.

Ali is one of three councilors who have called for a review in two council workshops, neither of which allowed for public comment. Councilors may take up the issue at a formal meeting Monday, but it wasn’t on the original agenda so will need the support of at least six of the nine council members to be considered.

Mayor Kate Snyder said the resolution wasn’t included on the agenda because it was submitted too late. Snyder said she was not sure if she would support an independent review of the police response the protests.

“I’m going to listen to the council debate,” she said. “I haven’t looked at the final language of the resolution.”

Approving the resolution doesn’t mean an independent review will take place. City Councilor Kim Cook, who has been pushing for an outside review, said the city attorney has said councilors can only request a third party review. Since the city manager oversees staff, only he can order an independent review, Cook said.

“It should be done by a third party so there’s credibility and transparency and so all voices are heard,” she said. 

Ali’s statement Friday was in response to an incident late Sunday night when someone fired multiple shots into the parking garage connected to the police station at 109 Middle St., spurring a police investigation that so far has not yielded any arrests. No one was hurt in the incident, but one police cruiser was struck by a bullet.

In recent weeks, police have been targeted by individuals who have shot fireworks at officers and cruisers, as well as at buildings and other people, mainly in the Kennedy Park neighborhood of Portland.

“I am here to categorically condemn any act of violence against the Portland Police Department,” Ali said. “It doesn’t have a place in our community, and I, my colleagues on the council and other city leaders will do all we can to make sure our police and city staff are safe.”

He added: “To the Portland Police Department, I want you to know that my push for change has nothing to do with supporting or not supporting you. I do believe that we are all operating in a system that is embedded in oppressive and systematic racism. And so far as I remain an elected person in this city, I will dedicate my work to changing the system we both operate in and I am looking forward to working with you and my colleagues in creating policies and practices that (are) fair and equitable to everyone in our city.”

Ali’s statement follows similar condemnations from Snyder and three other city councilors, who released their own statements on Wednesday expressing support for the police amid the violence.

Snyder said Friday she regretted reaching out to only three councilors for comments.

“We were moving quickly trying to respond to a situation – I wasn’t trying to leave people out,” she said. 

The council meets Monday and will discuss a plan to form an anti-racism working group charged with examining systemic racism in city government. The mayor would appoint nine to 13 members to the Racial Equity Steering Committee. The group would be asked to meet over a six-month period beginning in September and report back to the council in March 2021.

Staff Writer Randy Billings contributed to this report.

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