Eugene residents voice concerns about police brutality to city council
Eugene-Springfield residents expressed their concerns regarding an arrest made by the Eugene Police Department during the weekly city council meeting on Oct. 24.
Gwendolyn Iris, one of the organizers of the rally “Speak Out Against Police Brutality,” asked the city council to launch an investigation into the actions of police during Friday’s arrest.
“They are public servants – they are supposed to keep the public safe,” Iris said. “It’s absolutely unacceptable what I saw on that video.”
Eight other community members echoed Iris’ sentiment.
“I’m grateful that the man is still alive,” Shanalea Forrest said. “What I saw was assault. I understand that there [are issues] that are bigger … the criminalization of the poor and the mentally ill is not helpful.”
Michael Adams, another speaker, called the arrest “excessive.”
“I don’t get how it took 20 police officers, sirens, sticks, tasers and taser guns to detain a man,” Adams said.
Another attendee spoke for the police during the public forum, praising their professionalism while dealing with a large number of “angry people.”
“What I saw in the video was a courageous female police officer standing in front of the crowd of 60 people and said, ‘Please step back,'” he said. “I have a lot of respect for the police at the scene that day.”
The public forum lasted for more than an hour and a half, with other residents talking about climate change, affordable housing and swimming pools in Eugene.
Mayor Kitty Piercy thanked community members for their feedback and encouraged them to contact the police auditor with any concerns. She also said the city council has been briefed by Eugene Police Department Chief Pete Kerns about the issue and will hold meetings in November 2016 to address the incident.
Councilor Mike Clark, who is tasked with police commission, sided with EPD in the incident, saying it’s the duty of police to arrest when they believe an illegal act was committed, regardless of the housing status.
“Comply or you will be forced to comply,” Clark said at the meeting.
Councilor Chris Pryor said he also watched the video. He believes the city must come up with ways to improve the downtown area.
“It’s easy to be emotionally invested while watching these videos,” Pryor said. “People will see what they want to see, hear what they want to hear, but we must be firm when addressing the issues we are having in the downtown area.”
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