In an open letter published late Monday, the ACLU of Oregon "rebuked" calls by Portland Mayor Charlie Hales to end the string of protests that have taken place every night in the city since Donald Trump was elected president. The civil liberties group told Hales that he doesn't get to decide when the protest is over.
The ACLU of Oregon told Hales, “We fully rebuke both your calls for the protests to end and your statement that protest cannot affect change in our democracy.”
Speaking on OPB's Morning Edition on Monday, Hales said change doesn't come about through protests.
“You make change by doing the hard work of democracy,” Hales said. “If you think protests in and of itself will make change, think back to Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Portland. What changed on Wall Street as a result of those protests? Nothing.”
In a statement Tuesday, Hales said he understands that many people do not feel protected as a result of this election.
"There are also many in our community that do not feel safe because of violent protesters," the statement continued.
During the past several days, police arrested more than 100 people related to protests stemming from Trump's Nov. 8 victory. On Monday, more than 500 Portland Public Schools students walked out of class. They spent much of the day marching around the city. Also Monday, a 14-year-old made his initial court appearance related to the shooting of a protester on the Morrison Bridge early Saturday morning.
In its letter to Hales, the ACLU of Oregon called for an end to “violence and vandalism.”
"It's our job to stand up for free speech,” said Mat dos Santos, the legal director for the ACLU of Oregon. “We are working to protect the rights of protestors and to ensure those that voice their concerns know their rights."
The ACLU’s letter to Hales states that one of the city’s values is to take to the streets and come together when there are fears and anger over political events.
“So please, Mr. Mayor, do not dismiss the protests,” the letter continues. “Empathize with your constituents’ fears, and if you cannot give them hope for change, at least respect their right to ask for it.”