Alex Zielinski, Portland Mercury

Alex Zielinski

Portland Mercury

Washington, DC, United States

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Recent articles by Alex:

The Mercury's Top Policing Stories of 2021

[You can read all of the Mercury’s “Top Stories of 2021” here.—eds] After a year of sustained protests against police violence, Portland’s police force entered 2021 on shaky ground. This year saw police penalized for their actions during 2020’s protests, an alarming number of people killed at the hands of officers, and a reluctant acceptance that the city’s police force still requires a… → Read More

The Mercury's Top Politics Stories of 2021

[You can read all of the Mercury’s “Top Stories of 2021” here.—eds] City politics got messy this year. Between Mayor Wheeler getting pepper sprayed by a pissed-off dairy heir to commissioners clumsily attempting to make Texas feel bad for banning abortion, there was little time for political growth. The year saw the council’s two newest commissioners find their footing in City Hall (despite all… → Read More

Center for Investigative Reporting Digs Into Portland’s Problem With Policing Homelessness

In 2018, an Oregonian investigation found that more than half of all arrests made by Portland police the previous year were of unhoused people. That trend hasn't changed in the years since—and a recent episode of Reveal, a podcast by the Center for Investigative Reporting, helps explain why. The episode "Handcuffed and Unhoused" is the end product of a months-long investigation by Melissa Lewis,… → Read More

Portland Police Shoot Driver After Crash in Southeast Portland

Portland police shot a man Saturday night after causing his vehicle to crash in Southeast Portland. The man, who has not been identified, is expected to recover. The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) has provided little information on what prompted the incident, which began shortly before 8 pm Saturday. Here's what we know so far: PPB officers attempted to pull a driver over near SE 92nd and SE… → Read More

City Announces Third Planned Location for Homeless Village

City Commissioner Dan Ryan has unveiled the planned location for a third city-sanctioned homeless village, or "Safe Rest Village," one of six that are expected to be up and running sometime next year. This third village will be located at 2730 SW Multnomah Blvd, on property shared with a defunct army reserve building. The city purchased the defunct SFC Jerome F. Sears Army Reserve Center from… → Read More

Hall Monitor: If the Number of Cops Doesn't Impact Crime, What Can?

Hall Monitor is a column on issues related to Portland City Hall and its influence on the community it serves. ——— In City Hall discussions about the city’s budget (which, in Portland, seems to occur every few months), there is one factor that tends to steer the conversation: data. Bureau programs often win funding if they’re able to provide data on their program’s success—and lose it if they… → Read More

After Years of Negotiation, Burgerville's Union is Close to Finalizing a Contract

Burgerville Workers Union (BVWU), the country's only federally-recognized fast food union, has spent more than three years in contract negotiations with Burgerville management. From anti-union messaging to a ban on Black Lives Matter buttons to allegations of targeted firings, the restaurant chain's employees have faced a torrent of pushback over their union's bargaining work with little reward.… → Read More

Former State Rep. Akasha Lawrence Spence Announces Run For Commissioner Ryan's Council Seat

Former Oregon Representative Akasha Lawrence Spence is running for Portland City Council position 2, challenging first-term City Commissioner Dan Ryan in the May 2022 primary election. "I’ve always rooted my service in meeting a need," Lawrence Spence told the Mercury Tuesday. "Right now I see an opportunity to address the urgent community needs punctuated by health and economic crises of the… → Read More

Good Morning, News: Employee Vaccine Mandate Kicks In, Arbery Murder Trial Begins, Herd Immunity on the Horizon

The Mercury provides news and fun every single day—but your help is essential. If you believe Portland benefits from smart, local journalism and arts coverage, please consider making a small monthly contribution, because without you, there is no us. Thanks for your support! Good morning, Portland! I hope you had a lovely fall weekend. Make time for a mid-day walk today and tomorrow, since the… → Read More

Q & A with Jamila Dozier, the Portland Housing Advocate Running Against Dan Ryan

In just over six months, Portlanders will be dropping ballots in the mail to vote on city elections. That May 17 election will see three seats up for grabs: City Commissioner #2 (currently held by Commissioner Dan Ryan), City Commissioner #3 (currently held by Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty) and City Auditor. City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero isn't running for re-election, but both Ryan and… → Read More

A Peek Inside Portland’s Ill-Fated Police Oversight System

It’s been nearly a year since Portlanders voted to approve a new oversight system for police who engage in misconduct. Yet, because the process of overhauling a police accountability program takes time, the city is still operating under the oversight system the ballot measure aims to undo—the Police Review Board (PRB). That five-person board reviews the most serious allegations of police… → Read More

Portland City Employees Required to Get COVID Vaccine

Employees with the City of Portland will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 18, according to a directive from the Portland City Council. In a joint letter sent to city employees early Monday afternoon, city commissioners explained that, "With COVID-19 filling hospitals and claiming lives, we must do everything within our power to end this pandemic and restore our… → Read More

Mayor Wheeler Directs Police to Research Body Cams—Again

Police body worn cameras are once again a talking point in the mayor's office. Mayor Ted Wheeler has instructed the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) to begin research on creating a bureau program that would require officers wear body cameras while on duty. "I have directed the Police Bureau to begin researching equipment options and bids from vendors, while also pursuing possible grant funding… → Read More

Good Morning, News: Gov. Brown Vetos Bills, US Vaccination Rate Rises, and Belarus Olympic Sprinter Seek Asylum in Poland

The Mercury provides news and fun every single day—but your help is essential. If you believe Portland benefits from smart, local journalism and arts coverage, please consider making a small monthly contribution, because without you, there is no us. Thanks for your support! Good morning, Portland! Welcome to August, smack dab in the middle of one of our city's longest dry streaks. Sunday marked… → Read More

New Data Shows Most Portland Police Officers Still Live Outside Portland

As of July 2021, 18 percent of all sworn officers employed by the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) live inside Portland's city limits. That's 155 of Portland's 828 total officers. This percentage point, obtained through a Mercury public records request and some number crunching, is unchanged from the last time we requested this data, in 2018. In September 2018, 158 of the bureau’s 864 sworn… → Read More

Police Shoots, Injures Man in NW Portland

A Portland police officer shot and wounded a member of the public Tuesday evening at a convenience store in Northwest Portland. According to the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), officers were sent to respond to a call at 9:36 pm concerning an "unwanted person" at the McCormick Pier Grocery & Deli on NW Naito Parkway, just north of the Steel Bridge on-ramp. Officers were told that the person was a… → Read More

Grand Jury Declines to Charge Gresham Officer for Killing Israel Berry

A Multnomah County grand jury has declined to indict a Gresham cop on criminal charges for killing Portlander Israel Berry in May 2020. Gresham officer James Doyle fatally shot Berry, 49, on May 31 in Southeast Portland. Doyle and other Gresham officers were assisting Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers that Sunday evening due to PPB's preoccupation with racial justice protests occurring at… → Read More

Officer Identified in Fatal July 24 Shooting

Police have identified Curtis Brown as the officer who fatally shot a man in Northeast Portland Thursday evening. A surveillance video (a warning, the video is graphic and shocking) released by the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Friday evening shows Brown shoot a man in a black t-shirt in the parking lot of a Motel 6 on NE Grand and Holladay, shortly after 7 pm Thursday. The video shows several… → Read More

Federal Government Extends Eviction Moratorium to July 31

The federal government has extended the end of the national eviction moratorium from June 30 to July 31—giving tenants an additional month to gather rent money. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the extension Thursday, noting that it will be the "final extension of the moratorium." The news couldn't come sooner for Portland renters, many of whom weren't expecting… → Read More

City Council to Discuss New Guidelines for Clearing Houseless Encampments

Portland City Council will consider next week a plan to "de-prioritize" sweeping certain homeless campsites based on their location. The proposed ordinance, drafted by City Commissioner Dan Ryan, directs the city department tasked with clearing homeless encampments on public property to veer away from sweeping camps defined as "low-impact" that are at least: - 150 feet away from an elementary or… → Read More