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Report: Springfield police could’ve avoided protest conflict

March 25, 2021 GMT

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Springfield police could have adjusted their response during a July protest to avoid the conflict that happened between marchers, counterprotesters and officers, according to a new report from a use-of-force expert.

Rick Braziel, who provided city officials with a report on his probe into a July 29 Black Unity protest in Thurston, wrote that many officers “were not adequately trained or equipped for this type of event” and some gave preferential treatment to counterprotesters, The Register-Guard reported.

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He made 38 recommendations among them that the department should conduct a thorough investigation into the force used to take Tyshawn Ford, a Black Unity member who has since sued the city, into custody, and leadership should re-enforce that officers must be neutral, fair and respectful when talking to all community members.

Braziel also advised the department to develop better strategies to separate protesters and counterprotesters, and create a separate complaint system for use of force reports.

Braziel — who was a member of the Sacramento Police Department for more than 33 years, including five as chief — reviewed information from sources including video, training records and department policies, as well as previous protests. He also talked to police and held a community forum.

Mayor Sean VanGordon said in a statement that the city is “committed to learning and improving from this experience.”

“Our growth is possible thanks to the many community members who participated in this assessment and offered their voice so that we can pause, reflect and implement change,” he said.

The protest on July 29 was not focused on police, but was centered around a resident hanging a skeleton from a noose in a yard. Fourteen people were arrested.