DeFazio: “Let me be clear, all forms of violence and vandalism are wrong and harm our communities. Whether it’s in Kenosha, Minneapolis, Portland or Eugene, violence and vandalism detract from the urgent matter at hand.”
Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio issued the following statement condemning the violence that is gripping Portland–and spoke out against the back shooting attempted murder of Jacob Blake by Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey and the vigilante murders committed by cop cadet Kyle Rittenhouse above:
“We are here again.
“Another horrifying police shooting of an unarmed Black American – this time Jacob Blake of Kenosha, WI, shot in the back seven times in front of his children and fiancé.
“Under the Justice in Policing Act—a bold, unprecedented police reform bill passed by House Democrats in June—the whole interaction between Blake and law enforcement would have been recorded on body cameras, which I believe would cause police officers to exhibit more restraint. Instead, the Senate has failed to take up this legislation, and Black Americans continue to die at the hands of police.
“I am also deeply alarmed by the continued presence of armed militia who have been using the cover of peaceful protests to antagonize Black Lives Matter advocates and instigate conflict. Their presence has heightened tensions and created understandable fear. Just two nights ago, an armed vigilante in Kenosha killed two individuals and injured a third.
“Let me be clear, all forms of violence and vandalism are wrong and harm our communities. Whether it’s in Kenosha, Minneapolis, Portland or Eugene, violence and vandalism detract from the urgent matter at hand—citizens peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights and petitioning their government for the fair and equal treatment of Black Americans. The violence must end immediately, and violent, destructive individuals should be apprehended and prosecuted.
“President Trump’s empty calls for law and order and authoritarian use of federal force do nothing to address the root causes of violence against Black Americans or help our nation heal. Just as malicious actors use the cover of peaceful protests to destroy property or carry out violence, President Trump is using the national demonstrations to sow fear, division, misinformation, and hate in order to distract from his abject failure to respond to the COVID-19 public health and economic crises.
“We can and we must come together to address this crisis as one country.
“But reform does not mean defunding the police. I am opposed to defunding the police. The Justice in Policing Act will instead transform the culture, practices and training of police. I’ve also introduced the CAHOOTS Act to help bring Eugene’s proven and innovative CAHOOTS program to communities across the country. This program will help reduce violence, prioritize effective, trauma-informed care, and alleviate a significant burden on local police.
“It’s time to end the division and politicking and come together to address systemic racism and make the words of the Constitution true for all. As Americans, we can together denounce hate and violence while working for justice.
“Our country cannot heal or become a better version of itself until we have a leader that has the strength to meet this moment. This is not a time for distraction and division—it is a time for collective action for all Americans.”