As a Deaf civilian, I have had countless negative and damaging interactions with law enforcement. In Portland and other cities, I have lived, the police force severely lacks necessary training to serve its Deaf civilians. In 2012, after an incident involving the Portland Police Bureau resulted in litigation we came to a settlement after much negotiation. One of my demands included a new directive; policy 640.40 be implemented. This policy is a protocol on how to provide communication accommodations for the Deaf. Especially when a Deaf civilian is being arrested, is a victim of a crime or a witness to a crime.
After this settlement, a Deaf Commissioner of the Portland Commission on Disability (PCOD), reached out asking me to become involved with PCOD in a more active political role to enforce the new directive. Soon after that, I was appointed to the Community Oversight Advisory Board (COAB) where I served my first year as a voting member and my second year as chairperson.
During my time on the board, I was involved with Civilian Police Training. Hired by the city of Salem’s Department of Public Safety Standard Training, I worked directly with the state’s trainers for six months. From that involvement, I now apparently know what change needs to be implemented for community and police relations to be improved.
After my work, the state of Oregon is now implementing this curriculum as mandatory police training. I continue to push for in-depth training to include people with disabilities and public transit police in Portland. Now in my role as liaison between PCOD and our city mayor, Ted Wheeler, I have specific goals to improve public safety.
With my experience, work, I recognize that there are many more needs for police reform such as:
- Implement a policy requiring body cameras for all on-duty officers. Footage cannot be reviewed prior them filing a report after using deadly force
- Require action on COAB’s 100 recommendations for police reform to be implemented
- Funding for Emergency Crisis Intervention Teams
- Work with Police Commissioner (Ted Wheeler) and Chief of Police (Danielle Outlaw) closely on all concerns regarding police reform
- Require all officers directly responsible for deadly force to be suspended without pay during investigations
- Form an independent agency responsible for investigating police homicides
- De-militarize law enforcement and create a policy removing any officers having affiliation to neo-nazi groups or organizations
- Restriction on automatic military grade weapons for law enforcement
- Adopt a Community Control Over Police Surveillance approach which mandates transparency, maximizes community input and focuses on civil rights
Change policies on crowd control to ensure public safety
Ban police sweeps
We must address and tackle houselessness crisis head-on. Houseless people suffer from untreated mental health issues, exposure to diseases, drug addiction, criminal convictions, violence, starvation, suicide, barriers in accessing services and encounters with the police. They are the most ignored people and often have nowhere to go. They are in every part of the city. I witness their lives every day as I walk through downtown where I live. Due to a lacking support system, people fall through the cracks, and the disparity between the poor and rich is ever widening. Without aggressive intervention, it will spiral out of control. I want to create a cooperative program that focuses on prevention and ensures all who are houseless are receiving care as equal citizens. I believe we can solve these issues if we focus on fundamentally changing our mindset about the housing crisis head-on in an orderly systematic approach. It is not just about getting Portlanders off the street but also giving them the care, help, and support they badly need to achieve and sustain their economic independence. Also in addressing houselessness, we shall focus on:
- Developing a robust and sustainable housing plan
- Develop a set of programs, policies, and initiatives to rehabilitate and support our houseless population
- Expand affordable and accessibility options while protecting those at risk of displacement
- Create new rehabilitation centers with safe interim housing that ensures lasting placement support which includes and is not limited to: mental health services, comprehensive physical care, child care, parenting support, vocational training and job placement programs
- Immediate financial assistance with new rent subsidy programs. Developing and expanding community-based public housing campuses by adding hundreds of thousands of new affordable units for singles, couples, and families
- Financial incentives for conversions of commercial and privately owned residential buildings in the private sector and creating alternative housing options such as space sharing, automation, and virtual offices
- Identify and address root causes of systemic issues with housing and economic inequality
- Create a fairer income distribution and more robust public programs to make it possible for people to pay for their rent, receive adequate mental and physical care and obtain the educational and vocational training needed to thrive in the modern workplace
- Ban houseless sweep by police
“The industrialised nations made a terrible mistake when they turned to the automobile as an instrument of improved urban mobility.”
– J.H. Crawford, author of Carfree Cities
According to the TomTom Traffic Index, Portland has become one of the top ten cities in the nation with the most traffic congestion. With our ever-growing population, issues abound with inadequate public transportation and commuting options for drivers. Our current infrastructure does not support the hundreds of thousands of cars on the roads, and there are many necessary repairs needed to restore bridges and highways. The current City Council proposal does not reduce carbon emissions, focuses on unrealistic highway expansion and minimal street repairs for a total of 450 million dollars. In other growing cities such as Los Angeles, Seattle, etc., it has been statistically and historically proven to increase one-person driver vehicles and has been unsuccessful in eliminating or decreasing traffic congestion.
How can we create a city that is more green, provides excellent public transportation and also has a budget for maintaining sustainable city infrastructure? Well, I believe the answer lies in redesigning how we get around our city. With the proposed highway project of 450 million dollars solely designed for a few street repairs and minimal expansion, I firmly believe these funds be invested in creating more modes of public transit and a complete overhaul of downtown. I propose that downtown Portland become a pedestrian, public transportation and biking area only with well built and easily accessible parking lots for car commuters. I propose that we design a subway or light rail system in addition to this as it would reduce carbon emissions, be built with earthquake technology and increase foot traffic to the local business. These few projects would total to less than 450million dollars which would leave a surplus to repair already degraded bridges and streets.
It’s time for us to show the world that here in Portland we genuinely care about the people and our environment, known as our Mother Earth. We, the people, deserve the best air quality and transportation options. Join me and let us revolutionize our approach to traffic and create a better Portland for everyone.
I believe together we can achieve success such as:
- Approve funds to invest in traffic infrastructure reform to expand public transportation options and decrease dependence on our congested highways/freeways
- In-depth analysis and funding projections for building and maintaining urban Sky Trams and Aerial Trams
- Mandate all Tri-Met transportation display captions and voice announcements at each stop for people with disabilities’ population
- Install more Park n’ Ride sites for car commuters while stop adding new parking lot buildings
- Start collecting data on traffic so we can track what to expect in the near future with growing number of people using traffic
Maintaining good mental health is very important for every human being. Every day people struggle with managing stress, anxiety, and depression which leads to a multitude of health issues. Then there are also many who suffer from severe mental health issues such as PTSD, Bi-Polar disorder, Schizophrenia anxiety, addiction, suicidal thoughts and more. Many people go untreated and unsupported to care about their mental health issues. All human beings deserve to be treated holistically and with respect but unfortunately, there is a negative stigma surrounding mental health. I firmly believe we can help if we focus on pursuing these initiatives:
- Expanding affordable and accessible for people needing mental health services within downtown Portland and surrounding neighborhoods which shall include referrals, workshops, medical, counseling, and advocacy starting with a mother hub
- Develop stricter policies and protocols regarding law enforcement’s role and expected conducts when interacting with civilians in perceived mental health crisis according to the Settlement Agreement with Department of Justice and City of Portland
- Mental health centers in Portland to partner with hospitals, low-income facilities, houseless shelters/transition projects, Planned Parenthood clinics, Domestic Violence agencies and group homes in filling the gap, so people get services they need
- Add mental health as a part of education in public all high schools
- Develop an updated mental health protocols/training/resources with emergency responses such as fire, ambulance, and police
- Develop a policy which would protect all the people who are receiving affordable and accessible mental health services for POC, LGBT, women, and people with disabilities in a safe space environment
- Add a new approach for civilians with addiction needing treatment as a medical issue instead of criminal issue
- Enforce Medicaid to cover mental health services for houseless population
“The Disability is not the problem. The Accessibility is the problem”
– Mohamed Jemni
Accessibility here in Portland is moderate, and although I, myself, have benefited from having accessibility, it is still not enough for the people here in Portland. Accessibility is not limited to sidewalk ramps, braille or sign language interpreters. It means creating fair and equal employment opportunities and welcoming those with differently-abled bodies to become leaders in our city and communities. Portland can become a leader in accessibility by establishing certain requirements that ensure all members of our community can become involved as well as creating safe spaces to welcome them into places of leadership. This creates an inviting atmosphere that can attract new talents to improve and enhance our city. Disability is not the issue, preferably it is accessibility that needs to be addressed.
I firmly believe if we start with these few ideas we can achieve great success and empowerment together:
- Require all Portland Bureaus to receive diversity and sensitivity training with in-depth instruction on ADA laws
- Require all public political events to be accessible for all people including people with disabilities, ie, providing wheelchair access and sign language interpreters
- Add more sidewalks in the outer of Portland areas for wheelchair accessibility
- Reduce Tri-met fares for honor citizens
- Increase minimum work wage $15 an hour for Oregon residents
- Expand emergency evaluations plans from natural disasters in City Hall, public schools, and public buildings
- Hire staff sign language interpreters for City Hall’s all public sessions
- Ensure that sign language interpreter are certified when requested by Fire, Ambulance, Police and Child Protection Services
- Train all emergency dispatchers and implement protocols on providing accommodations
- Implement a policy on rent control for the City of Portland