City Councilor Pious Ali said this morning at a hastily called press conference: “I am here to categorically condemn any act of violence against the Police Department. 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.” His statement continued:
“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,…..”
His statement came following criticism Councilor Ali received because he did not contribute to a recent statement in which Mayor Kate Snyder, and Councilors Mavadones, Thibodeau and Ray expressed their opposition to a recent attack on the Portland Police Department on Middle Street. Ali did not explain why he did not contribute to that statement of support for the Portland Police Department. *
The At-Large Councilor also said that there will be a discussion at the Monday night Council meeting regarding an independent investigation of the Portland Police Department. This idea was introduced as a consequence of the June 1st Black Lives Matter protest which turned violent and in which 23 arrests were made by the Portland Police Department. “I think it should be a collective effort,” Councilor Ali said. “We need to get feedback from an independent investigation so that experience is not repeated.” He did not indicate whether or not he had any support from other members of the Council for an independent investigation of the June 1st reaction by the Portland Police Department. He did not know the cost of such an investigation either.
Leadership by the Mayor has been pathetically missing on this and most other critical issues coming before the city. She’s afraid of her shadow and/or having a voice of her own. There are several successful Maine women leaders. She is not one of them. She has squandered her platform to do the right thing – following in the footprint of Senator Susan Collins (R). Snyder’s recommendation was that a mural be painted on a wall near city hall. What courage that took.
The city of Portland was besieged with protests following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis the end of May 2020. This is the best the Mayor can do? The best the council can do?
NOTE: The Republican Press Herald, (city hall’s mouth piece) reports today, Saturday, July 11, 2020 in the article: “Portland City Councilor Critical of Police Condemns Recent Violence Against Officers” that Mayor Kate Snyder now regrets that she did not petition all city councilors to determine their views on the recent violence against the Police Department. “We were moving quickly trying to respond to a situation – I wasn’t trying to leave people out,” she said. What was so urgent, Mayor Snyder? *
The upcoming discussion on Monday’s city council meeting regarding hiring an outside investigation of the Portland Police Department’s action around the June 1st protest? Were you trying to poison public opinion against the outside investigation?
Portland’s Chief of Police was chosen by city manager Jon Jennings. His grand induction ceremony took place at the Merrill Auditorium rehearsal hall at city hall in September of 2019. Chief Frank Clark has been in office less than a year. Prior to this promotion last September, Chief Clark was a Lt. in the South Portland Police Department. Is he ready for prime time? An external and independent investigation could be an embarrassment to Jennings and his hiring judgment.
Vern Malloch, Assistant Police Department Chief, and long-time employee of the Department was passed over in favor of Clark.