The time is now to speak out against excessive force

By Roey Thorpe of Portland, Oregon. Roey is an activist for social justice. She is the former executive director of Basic Rights Oregon and current executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon.

The killing of Aaron Campbell by police is its own unique tragedy: the needless, inexplicable death of a young man, grieving over the death of his brother, at the hands of the police. I say inexplicable, but the police have plenty of explanations, just take your pick: police reacting to a deadly threat, communication breakdown between officers at the scene, or a lack of necessary training to prepare police for these types of situations.

None of these explanations takes into account what for me is one of the most revealing parts of that terrible night: a young man left on the pavement to die with no one offering medical attention or help. The police say they could not come near him because he may have been armed and dangerous, despite the fact that he was fatally wounded. Picture it: a young man, distraught and sad beyond his own comprehension, laying on the ground dying while people milled around him, no one seeing him as a human being in the most desperate of situations.

When I heard this story, my mind raced back through my personal catalog of images to 2003, when Kendra James, a young pregnant woman also shot by a police officer, lay handcuffed on the pavement, left to die with no medical attention or care. At the time, I lived next door to Kendra's cousin, so the injustice and outrageousness of her death was all the more raw and close.

I feel numb and overwhelmed just picturing these two young people, shot and then left to die. And I have these questions:

Finally, when will white Portlanders stand up and say "not in my city"? It is critical we acknowledge that whatever the other ingredients are that have gone into the makings of these tragedies, racial prejudice and profiling are high on the list. And that the truth of that doesn't mean that somehow this is an issue that is less personal for white people or that we are less responsible. We are all responsible, and we are all hurt by this. Any time our city loses a young person we all lose everything that person might have achieved in their life, every dream they might have fulfilled, every gift they would have brought to our community. And anytime that prejudice is expressed, especially through violence, our city is brought down a notch, and our whole culture here fails to rise to level that it could. By letting this happen over and over, we all own a piece of it, and I think it's time that we all refuse to allow it.

Here's what we need to do:

  1. Stop making excuses for the police, and stop accepting the ones they are handing us.
  2. Stop believing that each of these murders is an isolated incident. There's a pattern. Acknowledge it.
  3. Don't accept the paradigm that to be critical of the police is to be anti-police--that's like saying that opposing the war in Iraq is anti-American. We're way smarter than that.
  4. Refuse to let anyone tell you this is a "Black issue." It's a Portland issue, it's a human issue. Speak out. Make it an election issue, a church conversation, a community concern.
  5. Write a letter, join a protest, find some way to tell the mayor and the police chief and the city council that you never want to hear about another Kendra James or Aaron Campbell being killed by police in our city. Let Commissioner Dan Saltzman know that he was right in calling for the grand jury testimony to be made public, and demand that he make sure that Officer Ronald Frashour be held accountable.

I'm starting with this article. What will you do?

Comments

  • (Show?)

    Thank you, Roey - very well said.

  • Jason Renaud (unverified)
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    Roey - glad to have you onboard, but complaining is not sufficient.

    Civilian oversight of the police takes many forms. Want to help? Get engaged.

    The district attorney has run unopposed for 30 years. Challenging authority exercises accountability.

    The Citizen's Review Commission of the Independent Police Review board, meetings of which generally have one or two members of the public attending.

    The accountable person managing the IPR, the city auditor, is running for election unopposed.

    A current election for the Dan Saltzman's seat, the guy holding the police portfolio (for which I am also a candidate) has drawn little interest or support outside of the leering media.

    The regular public meeting of the senior police brass - the Chief's Forum - was canceled last year without a peep from the media.

    The negotiations between the city and the police union are happening now. These happen every four years, and everytime there's a crisis both politicals and cop administrators point to the contract, say there's nothing which can be done. The media isn't following this story, and from what I can tell no one on city council is sitting in. These negotiations are open to the public.

    There are independent organizations, such as Portland Copwatch, Oregon Action, the Albina Ministerial Alliance and the Mental Health Association of Portland - together and apart we've been talking about these issues for years. You could join, volunteer & contribute.

    So wave your banner for a minute, or get serious and recognize justice is a full-time job. It's the glue which holds civilization together. Without it, with the corrosive of impunity unchecked, we're all endangered.

  • Mary Rarick (unverified)
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    I agree with you, Roey. Thank you for so eloquently stating what so many of us are thinking.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    I certainly agree, but would like some very basic questions addressed. I argue that the system, as crafted, is designed to do exactly what it is doing. If you want different results, there has to be a sea change...in structure! Otherwise we're just adding gears to the earth centered system and wondering why we don't get the prediction and control we want.

    You cannot- forget the police- bring any criminal complaint before the courts! As long as you only get a criminal complaint into court when a peace officer makes it, and a DA decides it's in the state's interest to bring prosecution, you're not the sovereign of your own life, and certainly not over any personnel implementing the state's interest. The next time you shake your head about "justice not being done" where the DA makes a plea bargain, remember that it's not about justice. It's about the DA securing the conviction that he thinks is in the state's interest. Research the not terribly rare cases where a person has come out and fully confessed to a murder, even, after another was convicted. In the vast majority of the cases the DA doesn't care. Got the win. A new trial might not result in a win. Why retry it? The system gives you just enough of an appearance of justice to keep you working within the system.

    Hold the police responsible? If your neighbor murders your kid, you can't hold him/her responsible unless a peace officer makes a complaint and the DA brings the case. As pointed out, the DA has a huge conflict of interest with the police. QED, as the system stands, this is what you are going to get. If you don't change it systemically, are you really saying that you think we'll be able to hold the police accountable in a way that you can't when you were on the scene and the crime was committed against you?

    Without systemic change, it seems to me that speaking out can only take the form, "please don't hurt us again". Do you know why they say PO-lice? Really, they're actually taught to say it with the accent on the first syllable. It's so you don't confuse it with "puhleece", as in "puhlease" (admittedly a bigger problem in the South). The word literally isn't in their vocabulary.

    I'm not criticizing the proposal. We need lots of people to speak out to get the attention of folks that think only Jesse Jackson's congregation cares about this. Then we need Jason's ideas to let the Council know that they will really have to do something different. Then, maybe, everyone will be on the same page enough to address re-engineering the system to produce the results that we would want, along the lines I stated. The speaking up bit isn't trivial. At the very least it forces those involved in the tacit conspiracy of state interest to become vocal and defend the system as it is. It's one thing having a system that isn't about justice, but it's a very different thing explicitly defending it. Unless the powers that be are questioned, and questioned long and hard enough by a diverse enough group that they can't ignore it, we'll be stuck as minorities have been for centuries, knowing that it's "no slack for the flack", and we can't expect any.

  • Michael M. (unverified)
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    Agreed, but one quibble. I think it is partially a race thing and partially a poverty thing. In either event, it is wholly a Portland thing. You don't mention James Chasse, perhaps because he was white. You don't mention the police slapping a chronic nuisance citation on Sisters on the Road, perhaps because Sisters is and serves a multi-ethnic community and because no one has yet been injured (or worse) in any incident there. I think, though, that these are all part of the same on-going trend in this city -- criminalization of poverty, of homelessness, of mental illness (Oregon's jail system is the #1 provider of mental health care in the state).

    There's an extent to which the police -- their lack of training, their union's tendency to defend officers' behavior even when it is indefensible -- are the problem, but an even larger extent to which the job the police are doing is simply one more symptom of an even bigger problem. Here, in "progressive" Portland, it is a crime to be poor. Being poor and black, being poor and schizophrenic -- those additional "problems" just might get you more time or harsher treatment or outright killed. Fundamentally, though, the problem is poverty and our refusal as a city to deal with it. Much easier to build streetcars and luxury condos and paint bike lanes.

  • Michael M. (unverified)
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    Agreed, but one quibble. I think it is partially a race thing and partially a poverty thing. In either event, it is wholly a Portland thing. You don't mention James Chasse, perhaps because he was white. You don't mention the police slapping a chronic nuisance citation on Sisters on the Road, perhaps because Sisters is and serves a multi-ethnic community and because no one has yet been injured (or worse) in any incident there. I think, though, that these are all part of the same on-going trend in this city -- criminalization of poverty, of homelessness, of mental illness (Oregon's jail system is the #1 provider of mental health care in the state).

    There's an extent to which the police -- their lack of training, their union's tendency to defend officers' behavior even when it is indefensible -- are the problem, but an even larger extent to which the job the police are doing is simply one more symptom of an even bigger problem. Here, in "progressive" Portland, it is a crime to be poor. Being poor and black, being poor and schizophrenic -- those additional "problems" just might get you more time or harsher treatment or outright killed. Fundamentally, though, the problem is poverty and our refusal as a city to deal with it. Much easier to build streetcars and luxury condos and paint bike lanes.

  • Mike Grigsby (unverified)
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    Thanks, Roey. I've been aghast and shocked too many times, and enough is enough. We need to keep marching, keep writing letters, and keep feet on the street. It's not a black issue or a white issue (that said, race and poverty absolutely play their roles)....the cops keep killing my goddamned neighbors, and that really makes me angry.

    I propose the answer is a radical change in how we go about policing...and it goes a lot deeper than that, to a change of our entire socio-economic-political hegemony and the recognition that single families living in little boxes is not the norm, over the long course of human history. Neither is a small group of people controlling the means of production and most of the wealth a norm, over the long course of human history.

    Yeah, I'll say it. What we need is a revolution.

  • Roey Thorpe (unverified)
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    Thanks, everybody, for your thoughtful comments. Umm... Jason? I'm engaged.

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    Mike, I hate to disagree with you, but it is a Black and White issue. When is the last time in you heard of the PPB turning the dogs on White people? Seriously, when? They turned a dog on Aaron Campbell. They treated him like an animal that needed to be chased with a dog, shot him, and left him there to die; bleeding to death like an animal. Can any of us even comprehend the sickening fear he felt as he died? Tell me when you've heard of them doing that to White person. If we do nothing to address the long-tem, sociological impacts of racism, this will continue to happen.

  • (Show?)

    Thanks Roey Thorpe.

    Jason, can you be more specific about what the police administration and the union cite about their contract? What's relevant and needed that their contract prevents? It would be useful to understand what changes we should be demanding of both parties in current negotiations -- the circumstances suggest the issues in question may not be ones where they have much or any disagreement.

    I don't buy that the issue is "lack of training." It is the content of the training and of the use of deadly force policy. Possibly wrong training. It is not just in Portland and not just with people of color, though I think Roey T. is right about lowered thresholds related to dehumanization partly tied to racial perceptions. But in addition to James Chasse, there was at least one case in the past year or two in the suburbs in which a white young person who was suicidal was shot to death by police. As in the case of Aaron Campbell the police were called substantially to help prevent the person from harming themselves (also to help prevent harm to others) but it seems that police training does not really have room for a suicide prevention function any longer.

    I am pretty sure that Officer Frashour would have been considered at fault and in violation of policy if he had not shot to kill if he believed Aaron Campbell might be reaching for a gun.

    There are four elements to the policy that might be scrutinized -- the treatment of officers' beliefs or perceptions, the level of uncertainty or certainty about what the person shot was doing (armed? reaching for weapon?), the speed with which "a situation" needs to be "resolved," and the presumption that "shoot to kill" is the appropriate level of force.

    These are not easy questions. A cousin-in-law of mine used to be a sheriff's deputy in Washington; she once got her nose broken by a sudden attack by someone she was arresting. People who appear or who information suggests may be erratic, irrational, unstable or unpredictable have got to be among the hardest for police officers to deal with. If we are talking about policy reform we have to face that fact, which shapes current policy, along with the fact that there is a pattern of wrong and unacceptable killings.

    That interplays with the widespread possession of firearms. In some ways the police reaction to erroneous reports that Aaron Campbell was armed with a gun gives the lie to the smug pro-gun truism that (supposedly) "an armed society is a polite society," showing that it really means "a fearful society" even for armed police.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Posted by: Karol Collymore | Feb 21, 2010 3:36:03 PM

    Mike, I hate to disagree with you, but it is a Black and White issue.

    They do that to poor whites as well. I just did a mini-experiment/demo with this a few months ago on a Tri-Met bus. Something happened- I don't even know what- and 4 black teens got into it with the bus driver, verbally. I listened long enough to see their point (and it was valid), which was about the time the driver called the cops. He asked them to wait outside. I (wearing a suit) went out and began to speak with them. What interested me particularly was that they had started attributing their treatment to race. Disgusted with the lot, I had a little chat with them while we waited (I'm cauc, if it isn't obvious).

    I basically laid it flat out to them that I was sick and tired of hearing the race card played when it is always about questioning authority. Then I offered to prove it. I told them that if they would be ultra polite, and stand there like angels, I would argue their point even stronger than they had, and we could see what the outcome was.

    We both played our parts brilliantly. The cops listened to all three (apart), did their little pow-wow and then left. The outcome? The kids and driver shook hands and he called for a supervisor to give them a lift home, as so much of their time had been wasted. The bus went on its route. I was barred re-entry and had to walk home. I never raised my voice or threatened anyone. Just basically made the case that the driver wasn't doing his job and had taken it out on the kids. Added a bit of union bashing for good measure, but, then, racists shouldn't notice that, should they?

    I'll be quite happy to repeat the experiment with Karol or anyone else that wants to see, first hand, that they may be racist, but if you really challenge cherished assumptions you are unconditional public enemy #1. Pigs have a keen sense of smell. They can smell my "anti-enforcement attitude" a mile away, and, when scented, they tend to go very color blind!

    One other point, about systemic change, is that the law, as written, actually allows for racism as a motive in a shooting. It is about how the officer feels, first, then facts. If a black man makes the officer feel more uneasy, then it is a justification. Obviously giving that power to someone that felt that a 4 year degree wasn't necessary, and that Rush is probably right, is monumentally stupid. But murder is illegal killing, and the law is so certifiably screwed as to make many of these shootings simply killings, not murders. My original point is that the system is not designed to bring justice. This is a good example. When the Normans introduced the first murder statutes, murder was defined as the death of a person that could not be shown to be non-Norman, at the hands of a non-Norman. It's a definition, not a moral absolute. "Killing is wrong" is a moral principle. "Murder" is a legal definition. The average person considers these killings murder. Alignment is best accomplished by changing the law to agree with the common language perception, don't you think? And BTW, it's worse vis a vis the legal protections given the dog, versus my pet. If my pet defends me, she gets put down. If the cop hound kills, it gets a medal. (But, on retirement, do they get PERS? Cat joke.)

    I won't belabor yet another, unmentioned point, that the military metaphor doesn't help either. But they carry guns, so it makes sense, and they have to because we won't enact firearms regs that are at least the minimum for industrialized societies. Now that would be political maturity. Recognizing that you have to tell citizens to turn in their handguns in kind with telling the police that they aren't the arbiters of life and death.

    Since none of this will get done, I vote for Black Panther patrols/escorts. It sure helped last election day. If I were the Governor, I would empower the Panthers as a militia. Now accuse me of sophistry or not taking this as life or death!

  • Anonymous (unverified)
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    Wow. BO says a union is wrong to back its members. Someone note down the date and time. What next? Will BO speak out against teachers' unions that protect child molesters?

    Roey, congrats - set a date yet?

  • Israel Bayer (unverified)
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    Thank you Roey for your piece. I very much respect you taking the time to get fired up and write something.

    On this issues, specifically it reminds me of a story a community organizer with AIM once told me.

    A young native kid walks into a truck stop and punches the first white guy he sees. The white guy, says, why did you do that? The young Native kid says, you stole my land. The white guys says, yes, but this has been going on for hundreds of years, why is it my fault? The young native says, because I have nowhere to be and just found out about it yesterday. And so, the journey begins.

    I would also like to note that individuals experiencing homelessness, many times with mental health issues, of all genders and races, are treated unfairly, as animals every single night and day in Portland and around this country— not by the police per say (who just enforce the laws set by City Hall, Mult. Co., ODOT, etc.), but by public and private establishments that refuse to let individuals use restrooms, to eat at certain eateries, to be refused service at local grocery stores, to not be allowed on sidewalks, in city parks, etc., etc., on and on. I witness this every single day. SR has ran two in-depth cover stories in the past year that highlighted multiple rapes of homeless women happening on a regular basis in Portland. It's maddening.

    SR tried to bridge the issues in it's recent editorial in SR. So much happens and nothing changes

    I would also like to see the community put the necessary resources into the groups that are engaging in these issues, (Fundraisers that go along w/community building) and for the organizations to be able to hire staff to actually work on this stuff day to day.

    It's not fair to turn around to any number of community organizations, from crisis to crisis and say, why aren't we helping more, when we are on the front lines every day, getting our asses kicked for social justice w/little to know resources.

    If we want real change in this community surrounding social justice and police issues then individuals, and foundations have to open up their pockets and kick down, and those organizations have to staff up and lead the way. In my humble opinion, until this happens, we're chasing our tales in circles on this specific issue.

  • Kori Vandia (unverified)
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    Posted by: Anonymous | Feb 21, 2010 4:41:37 PM

    Wow. BO says a union is wrong to back its members. Someone note down the date and time. What next? Will BO speak out against teachers' unions that protect child molesters?

    Roey, congrats - set a date yet?

    Why does this blog condone personal threats and disruption? It's labeled "delete". "Silence gives assent". Doh...that's what this article is about! How pitiful is that? We have to speak out against class violence!!! Troll comes in and engages in class violence. No one says anything.

  • (Show?)

    "Troll comes in and engages in class violence. No one says anything."

    You just did, Kori.

    With trolls, silence ≠ assent. As in "don't feed the trolls" etc.

  • Roey Thorpe (unverified)
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    Thanks again to the posters for your thoughtful responses. I want to say that while I agree with those who are pointing out that there is a class-based component to police violence (certainly, there is), I don't agree that somehow that overrides the racial bias that is being expressed. Yes, there are white people who are victims of police violence, but that fact doesn't mean that there is a kind racial profiling that also occurs. To write about one thing isn't to deny the other--I had a point I wanted to try to make, and I am happy that others are making the discussion more complex.

    But let's not use the fact of bias against poor people to deny the fact of racism. It's more accurate, in my opinion, to acknowledge the complexity of the interplay of race and class, and to notice that the two are so conflated in a harmful way that being African American often overrides class markers to the extent that even if you are a Harvard professor you can be treated as a thief in your own home.

    And btw, when I said I was engaged, I meant engaged in the issues, not engaged to be married. That's another issue entirely! Thanks again and let's try to keep the conversation on the issues and not snipe, okay?

  • Roey Thorpe (unverified)
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    I said: Yes, there are white people who are victims of police violence, but that fact doesn't mean that there is a kind racial profiling that also occurs.

    I MEANT to say "that fact doesn't mean that there ISN'T a kind OF racial profiling that also occurs."

  • William Thompson (unverified)
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    What we need is an end to rhetoric and more of a focus on facts. There isn't racial profiling in Portland -- the analysis of the Police Bureau's "stop data" statistics shows that beyond doubt. Saying it, and saying it repeatedly, doesn't mean that racial profiling exists.

    And it's terrible that Kendra James died, but that's a tragedy that can't be laid at the feet of the police. Her death was reviewed by the Police Bureau, by a grand jury, by a civil jury that rejected the lawsuit of her relatives, and by an arbitrator, and everyone agreed that the officer appropriately used deadly force. After all, Ms. James, with a near-lethal dose of cocaine in her bloodstream, was accelerating down the street dragging an officer who was half-in and half-out of her car.

    The diatribe has to stop. The dialogue has to start. And it won't start until the name calling ceases.

  • (Show?)

    @William Thompson:

    You call for an end to the "diatribe" and "name calling," but preface that call with a blatant denial of the fact of racial profiling. That kind of dishonesty is no basis for dialogue.

    Chief Sizer herself accepted the reality last year when she released the PPB Plan to Address Racial Profiling. As the Oregonian put it: "The chief acknowledges that police bureau data from 2007 shows that people of color are searched more often once they're stopped, although the minority drivers who are searched tend to possess contraband at lower rates than white drivers."

    Even Commissioner Saltzman acknowledges profiling as a reality, referring in his statement yesterday to his commitment to "[a]ddressing head-on the fact that racial profiling exists and working with Chief Sizer to take action on a concrete plan to end racial profiling within the bureau."

  • William Thompson (unverified)
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    In response to Dan, the fact that some people of color are stopped more than others does not amount to racial profiling. Asian-Americans, for example, are stopped far less frequently that would be reflected by their percentage of the population. Does that mean that the police favor Asian-Americans?

    The question is whether the officer knows the race of the driver when the stop is made, and if the stop is influenced by the race of the driver. When you pose the question in that manner, as you must, the statistics show categorically that race does not impact the decisionmaking of Portland officers as to who to stop.

    This isn't speculation. At least one nationally-recognized racial profiling expert outside of Portland looked at the statistics and concluded that no racial profiling existed in Portland. And, if one needed more, not one successful racial profiling lawsuit has been brought against the Police Bureau.

    For the life of me, I don't understand why anyone would want to be a cop in this town. No matter what the facts are, you can't win.

  • Bill Michtom (unverified)
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    Michael Moore makes the case that racial profiling is the major part of the problem here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeOaTpYl8mE

    But, as is always true, class is the ultimate difficulty. James Chasse could have told you that. The young man I witnessed being beaten by the cops, the fact that even in "liberal" Portland nothing is done to control the police who, functionally, see their job as protecting the status quo (and themselves) from all criticism: these all speak to a systemic problem and to the comment that it is not poor training, but doing exactly what they are trained to do that causes these killings.

    When the current version of the so-called Independent Police Review board was installed under Katz, she overruled her own hand-picked commission--that had voted 2-1 to have a truly independent review board--to make sure that it would be a puppet for those in charge.

    Another thing that speaks to a class-based system is that the killings and beatings are done by police of all races. They serve their masters--and that ain't us.

  • AB (unverified)
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    But let's not use the fact of bias against poor people to deny the fact of racism

    I am not trying to be antagonistic here, but I don't think anyone is trying to deny that racism exists or racial profiling exists. It does. There is no doubt about that. But what I hear you saying is that racial bias is worse than class bias. Perhaps that is true. But, it seems the human outcomes are often the same -- people beaten, arrested, left to die, discarded like animals, etc.

  • Bartender (unverified)
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    Cops are trained to view all interaction with the public as potentially adversarial. So in my view, it IS a race issue, AND a class issues, but it's also - at it's most basic - an us vs. them issue, especially if you buy into their action-reaction theory.

    What I would argue that it isn't, is just a Portland issue.

    This needs to be addressed at the state level, with a reworking of the laws. To paraphrase someone else here on another thread: right now, the legal standard for using lethal force is so ridiculously low as to be meaningless. To use the justification that one felt threatened, when one's main job is to deal with threats and potentially threatening people, is absurd. It's sort of like me being offended because someone gets drunk in my bar. Only no one dies, of course.

    So, march on City Hall and rail against the Council and Sizer (they all deserve it, IMO), but until the Oregon statutes are changed, they will always have that ridiculous law to back them up. And though when these things happen in Portland, they get the lion's share of attention, these horrible incidents are not just happening within the city limits.

    On a hot Indian summer day in September of 2005, a horribly injured car accident victim, a young man named Fouad Kaady, was killed by police in rural Sandy. When they came upon him after getting reports of the crash, the cops stated in their own words that Kaady was sitting catatonic in the road, nude, so covered in blood that he appeared painted red, and so badly burned that skin was hanging from his arms. The officers, in their infinite wisdom, commanded Kaady to lie prone on the hot asphalt so they could restrain him and "gain compliance." When he did not obey their inhumane commands, they tased him. Twice. When he leapt away from the painful stimulus and began to retreat, as any being would so out-of-his-mind in pain, they shot him. Seven times.

    They later stated they were afraid of getting his blood on themselves.

    This case was as egregious as any I've ever heard of, yet I'm willing to bet most of you haven't even heard of Mr. Kaady. Or that Gerry Spence is representing the family in a civil suit against Clackamas County set to go to trial this spring. Or that the City of Sandy settled for a RECORD one million. (More than even Chasse.)

    If you have heard of it, you never mention it.

    So broaden your horizons, all you progressive movers and shakers and start looking out for all Oregonians. Not just the ones that are your race, or sex, or income level or even neighbor. This is a state-wide problem.

  • Comfortare (unverified)
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    Roey, I appreciate what you wrote and I do agree with a great deal of it. I especially liked the tone you took. Too often these tradgedies bring out anger and hate within good people, but you obviously brought your better angels with you to this discussion. Thank you.

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: Karol Collymore | Feb 21, 2010 3:36:03 PM Mike, I hate to disagree with you, but it is a Black and White issue.

    Really?

    So James Chasse was black?

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    @William: Perceptions of and bias against different racial/ethnic groups are in fact different, and the elevation of one group as a "model minority" is part and parcel of how systemic racism operates. In other words, profiling can lift up both purported positive characteristics as well as negative ones.

    Re. Chasse: The Chasse case is indeed central to how all of this has unfolded; it's the festering wound whose lack of resolution for going on four years now has most undermined public confidence that police will be held accountable for abuses, and Jason Renaud has written very powerfully on this blog about it, as have others.

    For the life of me I can't understand the City's strategy in failing to settle this case. The fallout has been immeasurably more harmful to the city at large than any financial settlement might have been.

  • Bye Bye (unverified)
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    For the life of me, I don't understand why anyone would want to be a cop in this town. No matter what the facts are, you can't win.

    Which begs the obvious rejoinder:

    If you're a scumball cop, judge, or prosecutor who says ignorant trash like William Thompson speaks for you, no one is forcing you to take the job.

    You know where door is.

    Don't let it hit you in your dirtbag ass on the way out.

    Put that in your pipe and smoke it William Thompson

  • (Show?)

    @lestatdelc On this blog post, we are discussing Aaron Campbell and the problem PPB has with shooting Black people. Just because there are other issues with the mentally ill - which there most certainly is - does not negate the fact that some police officers participate in racial profiling and then act accordingly.

  • Greg D. (unverified)
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    Under the current collective bargaining agreement between the city and the police union, it is virtually impossible to fire a sworn officer unless he/she commits first degree murder in front of two appellate judges, a priest, a rabbi, and a quorum of the city council. Amend the union agreement to allow officers to be terminated based upon the majority vote of an oversite panel that is composed of an equal number of police officers, private citizens and a tie-breaker person such as the mayor. Such a panel will not prevent future tragedies or guaranty that police are prosecuted in the criminal system, but it should go a long way toward guarantying that officers who commit acts generally regarded as outrageous will not keep their jobs.

  • Buckman Res (unverified)
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    ”Mike, I hate to disagree with you, but it is a Black and White issue.”

    Once again we see a legitimate discussion about a serious subject that effects all citizens, in this case police authority and accountability, being high-jacked by those bent on making everything a “black vs. white” issue.

    They receive reinforcement when professional agitators come to town making incendiary accusations of police “executions” without having any understanding of the particular situation or the community where the event occurred.

    As usual they succeed only at dividing the community along ethnic lines and making a bad situation worse.

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    Buckman Res: It is a serious issue that affects all of us. But all you have to do is read the report put out by Chief Sizer herself to see that there is a problem with racial profiling in PDX. To deny it is wrong and does nothing to help start to chip away at the problems. The issues are multi-faceted to be sure, but the issues around color are one of them. Pointing this out does not take away from the discussion.

    The "professional agitator" I'm sure you are referring to is Rev. Jesse Jackson. I would disagree with that sentiment. This is a man who stood next to Martin Luther King Jr. for years and witnessed as he died, shot to death on a balcony. Despite the constant fear of murder, he continued on a quest for racial and economic equality.

    If we want to talk reform, we talk all pieces.

  • Bartender (unverified)
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    If we want to talk reform, we talk all pieces.

    Can we then extend the conversation to include those citizens outside of Portland as well?

  • joel dan walls (unverified)
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    When will we stop accepting the kneejerk defense of the police union of every officer in every situation? The union needs to take a good long look at itself and ask how its leaders can credibly say that its officers always do their best and never deserve punishment.

    The police-union president is to his members as a lawyer is to his client. When was the last time that a lawyer declared that his own client was a lying, scheming bastard? So at that level, I have no problem with the union always standing up for the officer under investigation. The problem is that there's effectively no plaintiff's representative as a countervailing force against the police union, because the DA and the police are on the same side. We have a system where the only recourse by the injured is a civil suit against the City, meaning that you and I pay for the damages and the offending cops walk free. (Or even better, they file for a stress disability claim. Yep, sure is stressful having one's questionable actions held up for examination, all right.)

    Without independent police review and discipline, nothing will change.

  • Roey Thorpe (unverified)
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    I'd appreciate it if we could not just criticise what I didn't write about, but instead focus on solutions about what I did. I've learned a lot from those of you who are doing that, and I'll bet others have as well.

    It's too easy for people to say "it's not just about race" and never really address the part that clearly is about race. Even if there are other factors at play, and there clearly are plenty of people who have been victims of police violence from many communities in our city and state, that doesn't negate that racism IS a factor here. By continually pushing to broaden the conversation, I fear that we lose the ability to talk about racial profiling and prejudice, and the long history of the African American community being targets of abuse. I'm all for broadening the scope IF we're dealing with this issue, and so far I think that unfortunately, as a city, we are not.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    OK. We'll ignore that the system is crafted so as to be answerable to the state and not you. Maybe if we shout enough about how angry we are, and say "racist" enough times, things will change! Worked with the Presidency. Now we have a black man in office. And...well everything has changed. Have to accept that. Because. Just have to.

    At least this thread has demonstrated that one can't have any kind of substantive discussion about this without hearing the folks simply repeat what they've already decided, louder and louder.

  • BigBaldwin (unverified)
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    There is too much minutiae being employed here. Keeping this simple is the only way we will ever see change in our lifetimes. Cops and police unions want change to be impossible, but still want the paychecks. The only way to keep both ends of the stick in play at once is to make the citizen run in circles, and that is what they have been doing forever. Breaking that circle located inside the cop smokescreen is the only way out for the citizen. We do that by eliminating the police union voice by simply ignoring them, and the cop voice by "helping" them understand that the people created them and therefore own them via our tax money. We do that by eliminating all political candidates who don't want an effective citizen review panel, one that can and does hire and fire the police department. Then, we elect the Chief, and hire and fire the rank and file. That way, we sculpt the department, eradicate the problems now being tolerated, and stop the cop's carrot on a stick we are being fooled with now. BigBaldwin.blogspot.com

  • ogsendmarged (unverified)
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    Yaaaaaaa.nice article.

    http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Weider-X-Factor-Review&id=3860999

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