For Immediate Release: December 17, 2014
CITY COUNCIL INCLUDES HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES BY PRIVATE PRISONS IN CITY SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENT POLICY
Portland, Ore –. Portland City Council voted today to implement a Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) policy that will consider corporate abuses of human rights, such as those committed by the GEO Group which operates the Tacoma, WA Northwest Detention Center. The policy will be overseen by an appointed citizen committee that will be “reflective of the diversity of…Portland.” The human rights and diversity provisions were both requested by Voz and Enlace.
The original draft resolution by Commissioner Steve Novick did not include either provision. Novick moved the draft resolution and an amendment to include the community call for a decision-making body that is “reflective of the diversity of…Portland.”
Representatives from Enlace, Voz, SEIU 49, Portland Jobs with Justice, Portland State University, Center for Intercultural Organizing, Oregon Dream Activists, and Migrant Collective testified to demand a SRI policy that allows the City to consider whether a company’s business practices have a “disproportionate and detrimental impact” on people of color. Activists called on the city to make a SRI policy that is bold and responsive to the needs of the community.
“We applaud the City for committing to socially responsible investing that pays attention to corporate human rights abuses of private prisons and other companies that impact people of color, ” stated Peter Cervantes-Gautschi, Enlace Co-Director.
After the unanimous vote approving the SRI policy, Commissioner Novick stated, “We hope that this will be a model for other city’s and municipalities to follow.”
Midge Purcell, Urban League Portland Director of Advocacy and Public Policy stated, “Portlanders do not want their city to invest in companies that don’t reflect its values or that profit by creating undue burden for low income families and people of color. Any social investment policy must use disparate impact as a key criteria for deciding if our city dollars are being used to lift up all our communities and advancing justice and opportunity for all Portlanders.”
Romeo Sosa, Voz Executive Director, stated, “The SRI committee should have voices of the people who are affected to understand the dimension of the problem, and the problem includes corporate profit from institutional racism.”