Article XIV. Abuse of Power — Platform of the Multnomah County Democratic Party

PREAMBLE

The Oregon Constitution declares “All power is inherent in the people.” We delegate specific powers to our local, State, and Federal governments founded on the people’s authority, to fulfill our purposes. Abuse of that power has been common in our State and National history, at the highest cost to those of us whose equal rights are still not recognized by all. Many have been forced to leave their land, to work without pay, or have been imprisoned or deported without just cause. Our governments have allowed corporate exploitation to threaten our peace, safety, and happiness, an abuse of the power to regulate business in the public interest. We hold government accountable for abusing power and we value our right to change, reform or abolish government when we see fit.

PLANKS

  1. We believe that every person deserves equal protection from the abuse of power inherent in the power structures of the military and law enforcement, other government institutions, and through the power inherent in employee/employer relationships including massive income inequality.
  2. We support governmental protection of natural systems that we living creatures are evolved to depend on, by adequate regulation of corporations. We oppose regulatory exceptions that prioritize private profit above public good.
  3. We oppose the death penalty for any crime, because it makes murderers of us all, because it does not deter crime, because it is cruel and unusual punishment, because our courts have allowed racially disparate death sentencing, and because some executed have been exonerated after execution.
  4. We oppose war and genocide.
  5. We oppose detaining and deporting civilians, refusing to recognize refugees or asylum seekers is an abuse of power.
  6. We oppose the use of military resources and/or economic sanctions to interfere in the internal or external affairs of other nations. Sanctions that carry humanitarian impact are an egregious abuse of power.
  7. We oppose the use of military and psychological warfare, especially torture, against people of any nation.
  8. We believe that no unarmed person should lose their life because a law enforcement officer mistakenly fears for their life. Irrational fear is not defensible as a rationalization for killing an unarmed person.
  9. We support strong, independent and enforceable oversight and transparency to deter disparate treatment and to hold government accountable for its employees’ unjust actions, including when associated with cultural or racial diversity.
  10. We expect all school district personnel to treat students equitably, with respect, understanding, and support for their learning. Inequitable treatment harms students, such as long-term effects of suspension and exclusion from school that can push them into the criminal justice system instead of higher education. Personnel should reduce disparate treatment of students by understanding differences in cultural backgrounds.
  11. We oppose exclusion of individuals from public places by law enforcement officers based on racial profiling that disproportionately deprives non-dominant members of our society from exercising their rights and autonomy.
  12. We oppose federal monetary incentives for law enforcement actions and private prisons. High rates of conviction for newly created drug crimes, and longer sentencing of African Americans relative to Whites, have resulted from such incentives. This flagrant abuse of power combined with community impacts encouraged racist repression and social damage to African Americans while enforcement of white collar and corporate crime diminished.
  13. We oppose financial exploitation of accused and convicted prisoners including through contracts with private vendors. We also oppose financial oppression of ex-offenders.
  14. We oppose militarized law enforcement in our communities. It is less effective for peacekeeping goals.
  15. We oppose use of digital surveillance of people, such as facial recognition and voice identification for commercial or law-enforcement purposes. Use of similar tools for investigative use must be severely constrained and allowed only when reasonable suspicion of a crime exists.
  16. We oppose legislative criminalization of civil protest and investigative reporting.
  17. We oppose physical restraints used to harm or humiliate captives and lawful prisoners, such as during childbirth.
  18. We believe elected officials should lose their positions immediately upon threatening physically violent actions by militant associates or themselves.
  19. We believe that voter suppression is abuse of power.

LEGISLATIVE ACTION ITEMS

  1. We support requiring our State and federal elected officials to prevent, halt, and restore damage to environmental systems that biologically support life and that provide other human values we hold in common, by adequate regulation of corporations that exploit people and natural systems.
  2. We support ending the interference of U.S. corporations in affairs of other nations, such as exploitation of resources and labor in Central America.
  3. We support advocating to enforce the Constitutional provision, limiting the Commander in Chief’s engagement in military action, that Congress alone has the power to declare war.
  4. We support advocating to end policies that make use of force against people part of government process, whether or not victims are citizens.
  5. We support efforts to stipulate that corporations are not people, and money is not speech.
  6. We support independence for the position of Oregon Public Records Advocate.
  7. We support advocating in local, State, and Federal government to curtail general digital surveillance and severely constrain similar digital tools used in investigations. Support transparency about pseudo-scientific claims for accuracy and benefits of surveillance technology.
  8. We call for responding to drug addiction with treatment not imprisonment.
  9. We support the passage of the Congressional Resolution to Repeal of the Authorization of Military Force.[1]
  10. We support ending law enforcement exemptions at every level from gun control laws.
  11. We support legislation holding law enforcement personnel liable for inflicting harm through the use of excessive force.

[1] S.J.Res.13 A joint resolution to repeal the authorizations for use of military force against Iraq, and for other purposes. https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-joint-resolution/13/text?format=txt&q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22H.R.78%22%5D%7D