Hold Portland Police Department Accountable for Use of Flash Bang Grenades

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We, the undersigned, are asking for Mayor Ted Wheeler and the city of Portland to reassess the use of the flash bang grenades by the Portland Police Department. In the last few years we have noticed an upswing of usage of this weapon by the PPD during demonstrations. In our experience, the PPD has not allowed proper dispersal time for large crowds and very quickly escalates situations with the usage of this sonic warfare. These sound grenades have physically and psychologically traumatized many of us in the community. These weapons, when deployed, affect not only the people for whom they are intended, but anyone within hearing range, including bystanders, tourists, area residents, and animals. They have been used near children and the elderly. They have been used during permitted demonstrations. They have been used without proper warning and without reasonable time to disperse.

The use of this flash bang technology can and does cause both physical and psychological trauma. Physicians for Human Rights explain, “While their [stun grenade’s] stated objective is to cause disorientation and a sense of panic, the potential for injuries caused by the pressure of the blast or by shrapnel from the fragmentation of the grenade is disproportionately high, and could even lead to death. Therefore, these weapons have no place in effective crowd management.”

The police can very easily disperse a crowd without this technology and has been doing so for many years. While we do not advocate for any police presence in our streets, until a better system is put in place, we need to be vigilant and hold the police accountable for their actions and to us as a community. We strongly urge the City of Portland to reexamine the criteria for usage of such weapons against Portland citizens exercising their constitutional rights to free speech and assembly, publicly reprimand the Portland Police Bureau for its usage of this weapon, and to drastically scale back the usage of sonic warfare in our streets.