Forum on racism, bias crimes set for July 23
VANCOUVER, Wash. – The Washington State Human Rights Commission and a host of other agencies and civil-rights groups will convene to discuss incidents and remedies related to racism, discrimination and bias crimes at a free public forum, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, July 23, at the Clark County Public Service Center, sixth floor hearing room, 1300 Franklin St., in downtown Vancouver.
"We're engaging our community in dialogue toward progress and change," said forum organizer Maria Rodriguez-Salazar, vice president for the Northwest region of the League of United Latin American Citizens, the nation's oldest and largest Hispanic organization. "Clark County can serve as a model of strength in standing against hate and bias crimes."
Shareefah Abdullah, chair of business round table Black Entrepreneurs of Clark County, which offers free mentorship and education programs, will facilitate the meeting.
"We're focused on moving from problems to solutions," Abdullah said. "Folks want to feel safe in their community, with access to opportunities and freedom from discrimination."
To participate, RSVP by e-mail or phone. For questions or to reserve a spot, call Salazar at 360-253-6381, or Abdullah at 360-604-8583.
Shields will help lead House Democrats
Rep. Chip Shields, D-N/NE Portland, has been chosen by his colleagues to be assistant majority leader for political concerns for the Oregon House Democrats. The main tasks for the newly elected leader include expanding the 31-29 Democratic majority in the House, crafting a legislative agenda, and executing that agenda in the upcoming campaign season and next legislative sessions.
"Last session we delivered on the Roadmap for Oregon's Future, an agenda we developed in the last interim session," Shields said. "I am excited to play a role in crafting the 2008-09 agenda that will build upon that roadmap. It's an agenda based on improving living-wage jobs, health care and schools."
Shields is finishing his second term in the Oregon House of Representatives. Prior to being elected in 2004, he served as executive director of Better People, a nonprofit, job placement and counseling program focused on helping people who had been in trouble with the law. Since its founding, Better People has helped hundreds of people find living wage jobs.
PCC awards 16 Ford scholarships
Portland Community College has awarded statewide Ford Family Foundation scholarships to 16 students.
The Ford Family Foundation scholarships are broken down into three categories. The ReStart Scholarship is for students older than 25 with minimal college experience, who show promise in their studies and are starting over in their college careers. The Ford Opportunity Scholarship is for single parents and requires a 3.0 grade point average. The Ford Scholars is for high school seniors or transferring community college students who also have a minimum 3.0 GPA.
All three require community service, demonstrated leadership ability and financial need.
Local ReStart Scholarship recipients include Kronda Adair of North Portland; Eric Dexter of Northeast Portland; Robert Downer of Southeast Portland; Eric Walinski of Northeast Portland; and Chantelle Watson of Southwest Portland.
Local Ford Scholars include Berenia Ramirez of North Portland; and local Opportunity Scholars include Jamie Schumann of Southeast Portland.
Portland Designates 'International Justice Day'
Portland human rights activists welcomed Mayor Tom Potter's proclamation to designate July 17 as International Justice Day in Portland. This is part of a series of nationwide and worldwide events honoring International Justice Day, which commemorates the day in 1998 when the international community agreed for the first time ever to establish a permanent court to investigate and prosecute individuals responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
The International Criminal Court has since been described as "the court of last resort," because it was designed to act as a safety net when national courts are unable or unwilling to bring individuals accused of these crimes to trial.
"It is a landmark time for international justice and the rule of law," said Carmen Martin-Stiles, a volunteer with the group International Justice and Accountability in Portland. "The International Criminal Court has been up and running for five years now and is doing essential work to address the most serious crimes under international law."
"In the past year, the ICC issued arrest warrants for suspected war criminals in the Darfur region of Sudan, and confirmed that it will soon prosecute a rebel leader charged with using children in armed combat in the Democratic Republic of Congo," Stiles said. "These are groundbreaking developments for international justice and human rights."
Carmen noted that in recent years U.S. government officials have stated that they are prepared to assist the ICC in its work in Africa. Amnesty International has urged the U.S. government to do everything in its power to ensure cooperation with the ICC.