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What Portland Police Should Have Said

From the Portland Police Bureau:

On Tuesday November 17, 215, at 4:39 p.m., Central Precinct officers responded to Lewis and Clark College, located at 615 Southwest Palatine Hill Road, on the report of an online threat. 

Officers spoke with Lewis and Clark Public Safety who shared with police a report from some concerned students about some anonymous posts on the social media site “Yik Yak.” 

The posts documented in the report were general in nature and contained racially insensitive terminology and hashtags. Nothing in the posts represented an immediate threat to students or staff at the college. 

Central Precinct officers consulted with the Detective Division and the case remains under investigation. Based on the initial information provided to police, there does not appear to be a violation of Oregon law based on these social media posts. 

The Portland Police Bureau is sensitive to the fact that anonymous and offensive language used on social media can be upsetting and create a general concern about safety. As such, the Bureau encourages the reporting to law enforcement incidents such as this so that they can be reviewed for possible criminal violations and actionable information. 

If there is a threat that is direct and specific, people should call 9-1-1. For more non-specific incidents, please call the Police Non-Emergency Line at 53-823-3333.

This was certainly one way of responding to this. Another would have been:

On Tuesday November 17, 2015, at 4:39 p.m., Central Precinct officers wasted their time responding to a damn fool at Lewis and Clark College, located at 615 Southwest Palatine Hill Road.

The damn fool reported an “online threat,” but was actually just upset because someone had written something mean on the social media site “Yik Yak.” 

The posts documented in the report were general in nature and contained racially insensitive terminology and hashtags. Nothing in the posts represented an immediate threat to students or staff at the college. 

Central Precinct officers consulted with the Detective Division and agreed that it was a travesty how little the individual who registered the complaint understood about the First Amendment. Based on the initial information provided to police, there does not appear to be a violation of Oregon law based on these social media posts. As such, we have arrested the caller for wasting police time.

The Portland Police Bureau does not care what people write on “Yik Yak.” Indeed it would be wholly improper for police of any kind to care about this, or anything similar. We are here to prevent violence, not to superintend the Internet. The Bureau advises those who believe that the police exist to protect their feelings to do some reading, or, if possible, to autodefenestrate. 

If there is a threat that is direct and specific, people should call 9-1-1. For more non-specific incidents, please use Salon.com.

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