A New Ruling by Oregon’s Highest Court Could Curb the Over-policing of Black Portlanders

“Where are you headed?”

“Have any weapons on you?”

“Can I take a look inside your car?”

For decades, Portland police officers have been allowed to ask these kinds of questions to any driver they pull over for a minor traffic violation. Rarely are these inquiries related to the reason the driver was stopped, and rarely do drivers feel like they’re able to decline to answer.

More often than not, officers are simply using the premise of a petty traffic violation—like driving with a broken taillight or failing to signal before changing lanes—as an excuse to stop, question, and search someone they deem suspicious.