After Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rally

Jo Ann Hardesty

While some want to portray Rev. Jesse Jackson’s participation in the Albina Ministerial Alliance (AMA) Coalition for Justice and Police Reform as meddling … or grandstanding, I welcome the national spotlight he will bring to our community.

The tragedies of officer-involved killings of unarmed Portlanders have a long history. Three unarmed men have been shot in the back in the past five years, two fatally. Portland Copwatch has documented over $4,500,000.00 in city payouts for police misconduct since 1993.

Our political institutions have proved themselves unable to stem this tide of misconduct. In fact, deaths in custody are overlapping subsequent investigations. We have no resolution in the James Chasse beating death and now we must now endure the killing of Aaron Campbell.

But what will happen when Rev. Jackson departs and the news cycle takes its focus elsewhere?

Will you lend yourself to the kind of sustained campaign that is required to effect institutional change, to bring effective law enforcement to the community? Will we unite in a broad-based coalition to address injustice? Will your organization be unrelenting in demands for accountability? Oregon Action, the AMA and others have a history of reasoned response to these seemingly unrelenting tragedies: we have local leaders who understand the tactics that have stymied us in the past.

There are many who have been inspired to call for systemic changes within the Portland Police Bureau. They include:

For a short time the press spotlight will shine on Portland. In a few weeks the media will have moved on. But, for the families experiencing this nightmare, this trauma will be slow in healing, if it ever comes. How long do you, Blue Oregon readers, expect to participate? How much of your talent will you contribute to solving this emotional, difficult and entrenched problem? When will you begin? On Tuesday night at 6pm, at the Maranatha Church (on Skidmore between NE 12th & 13th Avenues)?

If not now, when? It is time for us to stand together as a community: black, white, immigrant and differently able persons; because - but for grace and chance – this tragedy could have befallen you or those you love. I invite your participation!

Yes, I welcome the national attention Rev. Jesse Jackson will bring to this cause. But more importantly I look forward to community members stepping up in response. Help out. Make your time available, to ensure that we as a community have done all that we could to prevent another senseless death!

Comments

  • Jo Ann Bowman (unverified)
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    [Impersonation removed. -editor.]

  • Hardhonesty (unverified)
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    It bothers me that the Portland Police Bureau seems crouched in a self-protective niche in law enforcement. It seems obvious that, when they execute a person for failing to comply with their instructions, they have taken the court's role to determine guilt and impose sentencing. As we step away from a system of checks and balances, designed to protect Americans from capricious use of power, we eliminate the citizen’s role as a jury. I fear that – on far too many fronts – we have removed the people’s means of constructive participation.

    The Grand Jury deciding the Campbell case has used extraordinary measures to notify the public that something has gone awry in our police force. The mental health community is speaking out, putting a lie to the effectiveness of the latest round of police training ... in crisis intervention. I have even heard the Chair of Commissioner Fritz’s moribund Community and Police Relations Committee publicly value investigative authority with subpoena powers. In City Hall testimony and in individual meetings with the Mayor, the Police Commissioner and the Human Rights Commissioner, Oregon Action has been diligent in asking politicians to address the root failures of our disastrous police policy. But you are right, Jo Ann: effective change will depend on engaged citizenry who now know this is not simply a race or mental illness issue.

    I hope that the discussion will turn to effective community oversight. Either by an ‘old boy’ network, or through entrenched, institutional power, the police union has for too long been allowed to dictate its terms to the community. Didn’t Commissioner Fish run as a civil rights lawyer? Perhaps it will take a Reverend Jackson or Attorney General Holder to compel Portland City Council to take a leadership role and reverse their long history of failing to protect our human rights.

    This has been going on for so long, with so many parts of the community weighing in, I don't think leadership will be able to tell the public that we just don't understand how policing works. So many mayors and council members have abdicated effective oversight, with so many glaring and costly errors resulting, that I don't think our city fathers will once again be able to convince the electorate that delay or further neglect of the problem are in our best interests.

    So contract negotiations with the Portland Police Association begin. Will the media spotlight – or the attention span of your readers – be sufficient to prod policy makers to reach deep under the hood?

    Our police have been well trained … to determine whether drivers are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, yet the city’s agreement with the union prevents the same tests be from being administered to officers who kill in the line of duty. Though police training makes effective use of interrogation techniques among those it suspects, union agreements provide a 48-hour ‘cooling off’ period before officers who’ve employed deadly force can be questioned.

    In an era where we can go online to find the home address of sex offenders, union/city agreements prevent our government from disclosing which officers are repeat offenders of the Bureaus’ use of force policy, or the names of those who have been cleared time and again by internal processes designed to resolve citizen complaints.

    These double standards for law enforcement must be removed. The ‘get tough on crime’ mantra never seems to call for tougher standards or greater accountability for police misconduct. Our District Attorney fails to provide the testimony of the officer in charge on the scene in the Campbell killing, something that would never be overlooked in the trial of an accused citizen, but seems permissible in the secretive world of ‘fact finding’ by a Grand Jury. The absence of citizen oversight is simply one part of a criminal justice system that will not police itself. Perhaps national attention will give us broader vision ... inform us about how to implement law enforcement that meets the public safety needs of the people it was designed to serve.

    It is quite likely that media attention will be elsewhere when the city council/police fraternity negotiates on our behalf. Will your readers remain engaged while unpaid community leaders seek to eliminate union agreements that prohibit the chief from disciplining officers who violate Bureau policy? Who will be in the spotlight when concerned citizens demand accountability from leadership, so that police who violate our rights will be identified by the those who govern us … and made known to the public?

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    Jesse Jackson is not an appropriate spokesperson for a higher morality. His appearance here will not win anyone over on either side.

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    The first comment was not posted by me. Administrators, please delete!

    Thank you! Jo Ann Bowman

  • Jo Ann Bowman (unverified)
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    [Impersonation removed. -editor.]

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    One of the more sordid aspects of life is that members of the establishment, wherever that entity may be located, will assemble whenever and in whatever order is necessary for their mutual protection. And, as always, law enforcement, including its rogues, will be among the assembly. And when required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance they will piously declare with hand on heart "... with liberty and justice for all."

  • Andy (unverified)
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    Jesse always shows up with his hand extended. His constant attempts to extort money in exchange for racial forgiveness is funny. He must think of himself as a priest from years ago exchanging money for blessings. Jesse is one of the most worthless people in the country at the moment.

  • Rev. Joseph Santos-Lyons (unverified)
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    I appreciate the update from Joann Bowman, and the call for increasing civic participation.

    I'm disappointed that yet again a post on Blue Oregon addressing racial justice issues is prone to personal attacks (on Rev Jackson), extreme negativity and impersonations. I guess I've only seen a few, but it just seems that in Portland, any time you talk about race, whoever the messenger, it just devolves badly.

    These poor race relations unfortunately undermine our progressive movement.

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    Thank you, Jo Ann, for your post. I'd been meaning to post the news about Rev. Jackson's visit - but hadn't time earlier today.

    And Joe, it's also true that there are all sorts of anonymous cowards who are comfortable expressing their racist views on the internet, in ways that would never be acceptable face-to-face. Let's not assume that those folks speak for anyone but themselves.

    Comments on a blog are certainly not a representative sample of anything.

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    Jo Ann, I've cleaned up the formatting on the post - and added a link to more info about Rev. Jackson's visit.

  • Bill Wilkinson (unverified)
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    Does this country ever move forward? We need a chapter of the panthers!

  • Jason Renaud (unverified)
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    The notion all acts of violence by police officers are immaculate, as proposed by the new old-boy network, is insane. Offered as a rational why civilian oversight of the police is unimportant or trivial or unworthy is insulting.

    Since before Tony Stevenson was strangled by officer Gary Barbour in 1985, the political capacity of citizens to oversee and control the policies and actions of the PPB has been suspect. Tested by Dickie Dow, Kendra James, James Perez, Jose Mejia Poot, James Chasse, and now Aaron Campbell, civilian oversight repeatedly failed. Defending the status quo diminishes credibility.

    Repairing Justice is hard, tedious but worthy work. "No Justice No Peace" is not a street corner chant, it's the formula which begets civilization.

    Joanne's question is invaluable. How committed are you, typical Blue Oregon reader, to the maintenance of Justice? Civilian oversight of the police is our key responsibility; any shortcoming is our own fault. Time for repairs.

    Ready for change? Here's how to get started.

    1. Know the facts - what happened to Aaron Campbell.
    2. Principles before personalities - be tolerant.
    3. Suit up, show up at 6:30 tonight at Maranatha.
    4. Don't be apathetic - get engaged. Write a check, volunteer your time, talk with your friends & colleagues. The time is now.
  • Tanita (unverified)
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    Jesse constant attempts to extort money in exchange for racial forgiveness is funny

  • Daniel (unverified)
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    Jesse is one of the most worthless people in the country at the moment.

    Regards, Daniel

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    If bringing in Rev. Jackson to highlight the failure of the City and Police Bureau to get real in dealing with these killings is what it takes, so be it. Perhaps becoming a national embarrassment and shame - alongside the Grand Jury's remarkable letter - will shake Portland into action; nothing else has. Thanks Jo Ann, Jason et al.

  • Karl (unverified)
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    I wonder if the press will ask Jesse Jackson about the illegitimate kids he has sired here in Oregon?

  • Calling Out (unverified)
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    Thank you, Jo Ann, for your post. I'd been meaning to post the news about Rev. Jackson's visit - but hadn't time earlier today. And Joe, it's also true that there are all sorts of anonymous cowards who are comfortable expressing their racist views on the internet, in ways that would never be acceptable face-to-face. Let's not assume that those folks speak for anyone but themselves. Comments on a blog are certainly not a representative sample of anything.

    Kari, you are example #1 of that scummy, elitist, white Portland hypocrisy. You've been "meaning to post the news about Rev. Jackson's visit". For exactly how many days while you filled this blog with what kind of items? I first learned of it 4 days ago now on other genuinely progressive blogs and news sources and was wondering how long it would take the smug white trash (Portland style) at Blue Oregon to get around to it. Looks like never, until Jo Ann Bowman spoke up late yesterday, that is. Good on you Jo Ann.

    Jesse certainly is coming to call out the corrupt Portland police department, Schrunk's office, the Mayor's office, and all those knuckle-dragging regressives who are only one part of the problem.

    But this is mainly about a disgustingly hypocritical Democratic Party, and a supposedly liberal/progressive community on the I-5 corridor that most definitely is NOT. It's that crowd that keeps electing big talk, do-nothing white politicians like Adams, Katz before him, Saltzman, Wyden, Merkley, Blumenauer, Kulongoski, Bradbury, Hunt, Bates, Brown, J. Smith, etc. and the list goes on of "leaders" who have sucked up specifically to that crowd to get elected. The crowd who, most of all, has kept Michael Schrunk in power. The guy who has failed to hold clearly unfit bigoted PoPo cops accountable, SINCE 1981. A prosecutor who, assuming even the best, is obviously so incompetent he couldn't get a Grand Jury to indict a cop with a questionable record who shot an unarmed man in the back so a jury can decides the facts as they are supposed to.

    It's your crowd who does hold the power to hold police accountable, but it's that crowd who don't mind the police doing their politically dirty work and so keep electing the kind of politicians who do nothing about it, that Jesse is going to expose to the whole country as FRAUDS.

    When Avel Gordly left the Portland/Oregon Democratic Party because it no longer stands for true civil and economic equality, only the charade of that, it's that crowd, all the Democratic power players in Portland and Salem, and this blog who had nothing positive to say.

    Good on you Jo Ann Bowman for finally taking it on yourself to post something and great on Jesse Jackson for coming to Portland to remind us just who really is the problem here in the elitist, white, privileged, selfish, falsely liberal, but definitely politely-bigoted NW. Go Jesse go!

  • RedTed (unverified)
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    I think Jesse Jackson is a worthless, hustling clown of a human being, capitalizing on the suffering of others to line his own pockets.

    Does that make me a racist on Blue Oregon?

    What if I told you I feel the EXACT same way about Pat Robertson?

    Does that make me a hero on Blue Oregon?

  • Jim (unverified)
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    Red Ted--it makes you another person who makes statements but provides no data.

  • tyrone (unverified)
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    [Racist crap deleted. -editor.]

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    CO --

    I learned about Rev. Jackson's visit on Sunday night, on Jack Bogdanski's blog. His opening line was "If this is true..." -- which indicated to me that I should do a little fact-checking before passing it along.

    I find it amusing that you slam me for "scummy, elitist, white Portland hypocrisy" and praise Jo Ann Bowman, considering I'm the guy who asked her to join us on BlueOregon -- and regularly defend her online and off. (Not that she can't defend herself!)

  • Alex Ansary (unverified)
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    While I applaud your efforts on exposing racial profiling, I find it upsetting your voice isn't being raised about racial discrimination going on at PCMTV with your friend Sylvia. Perhaps you have no clue what's going on at PCMTV since the producers never see your face but Sylvia sure does, doesn't she?

    I think its obvious you only seem to care about one part of the community, and your silence and potential ignorance of what's going on speaks louder than words.

  • RedTed (unverified)
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    Who would have thought that on BlueOregon - of ALL places - I would be asked to provide facts to support my personal opinion that Pat Robertson is a "worthless hustling clown of a human being, capitalizing on the suffering of others to line his own pockets."

    Maybe there is hope for progressives yet.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Portland police you have at best a public relations problem. At worst you have a true racial divide. I am a little surprised that the rev Jackson took so much time getting there.

  • Susan (unverified)
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    The Portland Police are simply not held accountable for these killings, and show a propensity to kill, rather than defuse a situation.....and the death is always "justifiable" regardless of the lack of weapon. We must have independent reviews and strict guidelines on the use of force beyond "I felt threatened...." Why wasn't a mental health team called in and a negotiator in charge?

  • Tom Hastings (unverified)
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    I'm so glad Jo Ann Bowman is Out There, doing her excellent work. Unlike many of the commenters, she is so gracious, and for a skinny little woman she has the broadest shoulders, professionally and relationally, I've ever seen. The attackers who come out every time she writes really have deep personal issues, it's obvious, whether they are ripping on Jo Ann or on whomever. The assumptions made by so many of the commenters are just over the top. If Jo Ann writes about one problem, someone will claim that OBVIOUSLY she doesn't care about a different problem. If the Abina Ministerial Alliance brings in a national spokesperson who isn't faithful to his wife, then some feel obliged to focus on that totally irrelevant issue. I am nonplussed by the generally mediocre quality of the comments following such a great and informative piece. Well, Jo Ann, you certainly do ignite people! I wish we could UNITE people to do away with the police union. They defend any behavior by any officer, period, and Schrunck goes right along. How can Portland countenance this obdurate behavior? We see success in civil courts at times, but we need to see real law enforcement, not a blanket good old boys system of brutality. Thank you, Jo Ann, for keeping our eyes on the ball.

  • Fireslayer (unverified)
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    I am pleased Rev. Jackson took the time to come to Portland and share our concern. Not only because I am a long time fan (a state convention delegate in his presidential campaign) but because he brings national media focus to the terrible situation of serial summary executions of our citizens in the streets of Portland to light.

    Good work, Jo Ann. Keep pouring it on.

    Now let us do something about this abomination if we have to replace the entire city government in the process.

  • Zarathustra is my real pseudonym (unverified)
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    Time to take on the right wing, then, and I don't just mean in the Republicant party. We have to address the military metaphor. This is what you get with it. But we use the military metaphor for the simple reason that they carry guns. Military training is about not shooting your buddy and following orders; not about civilian empathy. But they carry guns because they face the same. Until you separate every small time hood from his/her "constitutional right", that can't happen.

    Most the gun totin' lobby won't be profiled. That is no small part of their love of the law as it stands. For the rest of us, we lack the will to implement gun policies that are standard throughout the industrialized world. We are far, far behind that curve.

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