Local residents will have a chance to hear and speak with a leader in the police accountability movement from Ferguson, Mo., when Rev. Robert White speaks Nov. 1 at 3 p.m. at the Maranatha Church, 4222 NE 12th in Portland.
White is the president of Clergy United for Peace in Ferguson, Mo., where riots and protests have rocked the city over the Aug. 9 fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager walking down the street with a friend.
The event is a race and police accountability forum, sponsored by the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform.
The event includes an update on the new twist in the City of Portland’s settlement with the US Department of Justice, which in 2012 filed a lawsuit, U.S. vs City of Portland, charging that the Portland Police Bureau has engaged in improper uses of force against mentally ill people or those who the police thought were mentally ill.
The federal government declined to charge the bureau with disproportionate uses of force against people of color despite a large volume of complaints from the African American community about police shootings, Tasings and arrests that many see as unfair and unjustified.
After two years of negotiations, hearings and forums – which this summer culminated in an order by US District Court Judge Michael H. Simon requiring judicial review of how police reforms progress -- Portland City Commissioners voted Oct. 23 to appeal the judge’s accountability requirement.
Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Amanda Fritz pushed for the appeal, both suggesting that the City itself should provide oversight – a position that community members have savaged.
“The settlement emphasized community engagement,” Fritz said in a statement announcing the appeal. “I believe that public trust in policing in Portland depends on all Council members demonstrating that we are committed to implementing the Agreement fully. I accept that responsibility.”
Meanwhile, the city is in the process of hiring a Compliance Officer /Community Liaison to monitor progress of the agreement.
Three finalists have been interviewed and the city has asked the public to comment on the hire. However, the Mental Health Association of Portland has called for a new recruitment effort saying the city failed to advertise the quarter of a million a year position widely enough.
Just 12 resumes were submitted for the position. Beckie Childs, an adjunct professor at Portland State University and member of the Mental Health Association, who sat on an advisory panel, says none of the candidates is qualified for the role.
For more information on White’s Portland event, click here. On Facebook, go to Community Forum on "The Ferguson Story: What Really Happened".