The Skanner takes a look at the extraordinary people and stories that shaped the news in 2017.
An estimated 500,000 people converged on Washington, D.C. Jan. 21 -- the day after President Trump's inauguration -- to show their support for women's rights, civil rights and the environment. Another 3 to 4 million people are estimated to have attended hundreds of sister marches around the world. Portland’s sister march drew an estimated crowd of 100,000; the Womxn’s March on Seattle drew between 125,000 and 175,000.
The march resulted from months of planning and national as well as local marches drew some controversy, especially over racial inclusion. In mid-January the NAACP Portland Branch, an early sponsor of the Portland event, withdrew its support for the event, saying the organizers did not sufficiently address or include the concerns of racial and ethnic minorities, as well as transgender people. At the same time it announced its withdrawal of support, the NAACP announced a March for Safety and Justice Jan. 28. By the time the march actually took place, the event’s original organizer, Dara Glass, had effectively been ousted and replaced by a group of Portland-based activists that included racial and gender justice organizer Margaret Jacobsen and Rebekah Katt Brewis of PDX Trans Pride.
In March, the Oregonian reported $22,000 in funds raised for the march by its fiscal sponsor, PDX Trans Pride, was not accounted for. According to a spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Justice, the investigation is still ongoing.
A second Womxn’s March on Seattle is scheduled in Jan. 20. Portland organizers have not announced any similar plans. (Photo by Susan Fried)
Moore Addresses MLK Breakfast
Civil rights attorney Howard Moore, whose clients have included activists Julian Bond and Angela Davis, addressed a crowd of about 1,000 people, who traveled through ice and snow Jan. 16 for The Skanner Foundation’s 31st Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast. Moore’s speech focused on the election and impending inauguration of business tycoon Donald Trump. Trump’s lack of regard for civil campaigning, his comments about Muslims, African Americans, Latinos and people with disabilities – and his conduct with women – should be of grave concern to Americans, Moore said. But, in the spirit of remembering King’s legacy, he told the audience to remember that King himself sometimes felt despair and kept fighting anyway.
On Jan. 27 – just a week after his inauguration – Donald Trump signed an executive order imposing a 90-day ban on people entering the U.S. from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. The order stopped dozens of people who had already received visas from entering the country, which prompted protests throughout the country, including this Jan. 28 rally at Seattle’s Westlake Park. The American Civil Liberties Union also challenged the order in court, leading the administration to revise the details of the order. On Dec. 4, the Supreme Court allowed a third version of the ban to go through, allowing the administration to fully enforce new restrictions on travel from eight nations, six of them predominantly Muslim. Under the current version of the order most citizens from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea will be barred from entering the United States. The order also bans some people from Venezuela from traveling to the U.S. (Photo by Susan Fried)
Quanice Hayes Killed by Portland Police
On Feb. 9, Quanice Hayes, a 17-year-old African American in Portland, was shot and killed by Portland police officer Andrew Hearst, prompting activists to rally the following week. Officers had responded to a report of a nearby car prowl and then established a perimeter in the area to search for the robbery suspect. They discovered indications of a break-in at a house on the 8300 block of Northeast Hancock Street and sent dogs in to search the house. Sometime after, officers encountered Hayes outside. Hearst fired three times, and according to police, when officers attempted to render aid, they discovered the teenager was dead. In this Feb. 10 photo, Portland Police Bureau chief Mike Marshman, left, and Mayor Ted Wheeled talked to reporters at the press conference where Hayes’ name was released. In March a Multnomah County grand jury cleared Hearst of any wrongdoing.
Hayes was one of two people killed by Portland police in 2017, and one of six people total who were shot by officers on duty this year. Terrell Kyreem Johnson, 24, was shot and killed May 10 at a southeast Portland transit station by Office Samson Ajir. A grand jury ruled that use of force was also justified. (Photo by Christen McCurdy)
In March, Portland’s Resistance – an activist group that formed in November 2016 and led numerous large protests immediately after the election and again after the inauguration – partnered with art and activism group, Know Your City, to ignite a new program called Resistance Talks in an effort to make sense of a nation divided. Co-organizers Gregory McKelvey and Cameron Whitten invited speakers from a broad range of groups to talk about social justice topics including maintaining a local economy, addressing renters’ rights, divestment on a city level and using independent media as a conduit for local voices. (Photo by Melvin Hernandez)
Commissioner Smith Files Tort Claim Against County
Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith filed a tort claim notice against the county in April, calling for a cease and desist of Multnomah County’s investigation into complaints against Smith made by two of her former employees. The investigation related to claims Smith misused county resources, funds and staff for her personal campaign events, and used unprofessional conduct – including discriminatory behavior and harassment – towards her staff. The investigation report, which was released publicly in June, said many individual claims could not be substantiated but that there was evidence to support some of the allegations.
Smith maintained the investigation was racially charged and politically motivated, noting in her tort claim and in comments to The Skanner that county chair Deborah Kafoury saw her as a potential rival in a future election. Tension between the two commissioners continued to simmer throughout the year, closing with an allegation that Kafoury addressed Smith with an expletive after abruptly gaveling out of a Dec. 21 commission meeting. (Video of the meeting closes with the gavel pounding and does not feature any profanity, though Kafoury released a statement later that day saying she had behaved in a way that was “unprofessional and unbecoming.”)
The state fined Smith $250 in November after investigating a complaint that county staffers were made to work on campaign events. The state fined Smith again Dec. 21 in relation to complaints she is engaging in fundraising for a city council campaign. According to the county charter Smith cannot run for office in another jurisdiction without forfeiting her county commissioner post, and she has yet to formally file for candidacy, but she declared her intention to run for city council position three in a Sept. 12 press release. (Photo courtesy of Multnomah County)
Honoring Black History on Williams Avenue
Cleo Davis and Kayin Talton Davis’ Williams Avenue public art project, which honors the history of Black Portland, launched in May. It consists of murals embedded in the sidewalk as well as signs with art and text describing events, prominent citizens and institutions central to the lives of Black Portlanders in the Albina neighborhood, particularly North Williams Avenue between Broadway and Killingsworth. (Photo by Christen McCurdy)
Portland Reels After Attack
Portland made national and international headlines May 26 after two men were killed and a third injured trying to protect two Black teenage girls – one wearing a hijab – on a MAX train as it pulled in to Hollywood Transit Center. According to witness accounts and court records, Ricky John Best, 53, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, and Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, intervened after seeing a fellow passenger – 35-year-old Jeremiah Joseph Christian – target two teenage girls on the train, shouting Islamophobic and xenophobic remarks and violent threats. All three men were stabbed; Best died at the scene, and Namkai-Meche passed away shortly after the incident at a local hospital. Fletcher was treated for his injuries and released from a hospital the following week.
Christian will be tried on charges of aggravated murder in June 2019. In December the Oregonian reported the families of Best, Namkai-Meche and Fletcher had locked horns in a still-unresolved dispute over how to divide $1.6 in funds raised for them in crowdfunding campaigns. Fletcher won a seat on the Montavilla Neighborhood Association’s board in October. (Photo by Christen McCurdy)
Oregon Senate Votes to Commemorate Vanport
On Sept. 29, Laura Ann Howard and Muyoka Mwarabu received $1,000 each and $25 gift certificates to Portland Sweet Jam restaurant at a screening of “The Wake of Vanport,” The Skanner Foundation’s series of short films interviewing survivors of 1948’s Vanport flood. The event and the contest were both sponsored by the Oregon Lottery. The collection of short films screened is the second collection created since “The Wake of Vanport” began. Bernie Foster, publisher of The Skanner News, told the crowd he expects to add more films to the series next year. Howard and Mwarabu were the winners of an essay contest on the lessons of Vanport, and their essays were published in The Skanner. (Photo by Allen Delay)
Rev. Jesse Jackson Visits
Rev. Jesse Jackson visited Portland June 2. His primary purpose was to attend the National Organization of Black County Officials Portlanders last week, but before his scheduled talk he held an impromptu press conference at Augustana Lutheran Church. He urged “multiracial, multicultural” action against racist attacks like the May 26 stabbing on a Portland MAX train – and called for the opening of a local office of his organization. He said he’d asked the Rev. Mark Knutson, pastor of Augustana, and County Commissioner Loretta Smith, to co-chair the chapter. The current status of that effort was not clear as this issue went to press. (Photo by Christen McCurdy)
'Good in the Hood' Threatened
On June 7 a staff member at Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods, going through the day’s mail, discovered a threat naming Good in the Hood organizer Shawn Penney, using racial slurs and promising a “blood bath” if the festival goes ahead as planned. The multicultural festival, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, went forward as planned despite the threat and a major heat wave that weekend. (Photo by The Skanner)
Charleena Lyles Killed
Charleena Lyles, a pregnant mother of four in Seattle, was shot and killed by Seattle Police June 18. Lyles had called the police to report a theft and within minutes of their arrival was shot at least five times by both officers. The police say she confronted them with a knife but the community questions whether a less lethal means could have been used to subdue the women who family and neighbors describe as being tiny and weighing about 90 pounds. Hundreds of people gathered June 18 at the apartment complex where Lyles was killed. The shooting garnered national attention and fueled De-Escalate Washington’s campaign for Initative 940, which would reform standards for using deadly force. It would also require law enforcement officers to receive regular trainings in violence de-escalation, identifying and assisting people suffering from a mental health issue -- as well as performing first aid. A Force Review Board report made public in December that officer said the board had determined that the shooting was proportional and consistent with department training and policy. (Photo by Susan Fried)
Small Drug Possession Lowered to Misdemeanor
Oregon legislatures passed a landmark bill this week that reclassifies small scale possession of illegal drugs – heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and others – from a felony to a misdemeanor. Under previous law, small possession was a Class B or C felony – punishable by up to 10 or 20 years in prison and $250,000 or $375,000 in fines. The new legislation knocks down small possession to a Class A misdemeanor, which could result in one year in jail and/or a $6,250 fine. (Photo by Nikki David/Neon Tommy)
Muralist Henry Frison Gets First Solo Show
Local African American painter Henry Frison exhibited close to 20 in his first solo show, which opened at the end of July at greenHAUS Gallery and Boutique. Frison’s intimate portraits of iconic Black figures – President Obama, Rosa Parks and Michael Jackson among them – will be on display until the end of summer. At 77, Frison is primarily known as a Portland mural artist and one of seven Black painters that collaborated on the Albina Mural Project from 1978 – a work of five 20 foot by 20 foot murals, spearheaded by artist Isaka Shamsud-Din. (Photo by Darryl Clegg)
Wheeler Hires Danielle Outlaw
In August, Mayor Ted Wheeler announced he had hired Danielle Outlaw to become the city’s new police chief. Outlaw is a 19-year veteran of the Oakland Police Department, where she served as a Deputy Chief since 2013, and the first Black woman to serve in the role.
Portland Throws Out 48-Hour Rule
In August, Portland City Council voted in support of more police accountability when it unanimously voted to abolish the 48-hour rule – a topic of contention among law enforcement, the District Attorney’s office, and community members concerned that police oversight was slipping.
Mayor Ted Wheeler – who presides as the city’s police commissioner – had made promises during his campaign to toss out the rule, which had allowed officers to wait two days before giving a statement after being involved in cases of deadly use of force.
Millions of Americans gazed in wonder through telescopes, cameras and disposable protective glasses Aug. 21 as the moon blotted out the sun in the first full-blown solar eclipse to sweep the U.S. from coast to coast in nearly a century. The temperature dropped, birds quieted down, crickets chirped and the stars came out in the middle of the day as the line of darkness raced 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers) across the continent in about 90 minutes, bringing forth oohs, aahs, shouts and screams. (Photo by Susan Fried)
Hood to Coast
This year's Hood to Coast and Portland to Coast took place from Aug. 25 - 27, 2017. The Skanner's team -- The West Coast Steppers -- were among the thousands of participants. Hood to Coast/Portland to Coast Relays is the most popular relay race in the world with 20,000 participants from 50 states and 43 countries. The event has sold out for 19 consecutive years, and annually places an additional 40,000 hopeful runners and walkers on a waiting list. (Photo by Bernie Foster)
Gang Designation Sunsets
The Portland Police Bureau announced in September that it would end a 20-year policy of designating citizens as gang members or affiliates. The shift was credited to recommendations made by Black Male Achievement and retired assistant chief Kevin Modica after a call for a public comment two years ago by PPB. Pictured here are Black Male Achievement Director C.J. Robbins, BMA steering committee member Erious Johnson, Modica and BMA steering committee member Justice Rajee. (Photo by Christen McCurdy)
Tillman Fired, Spurring Scrutiny of Racism in County
In September, Tricia Tillman was asked to step down from her role as public health director of Multnomah County. That prompted Chair Deborah Kafoury to announce a strategy to address complaints of racist and unjust employment practices – and led, later in the month, to the resignation of Tillman’s supervisor, Joanne Fuller. County Commissioner called for an independent investigation into racism at the county. (Photo courtesy of Multnomah County)
Portland's African American Population Decreasing
A study released in March by PSU’s College of Urban and Public Affairs found that Portland’s newest migrants are more diverse than the overall population, yet the Rose City continues to lose its African American population.
Before the recession, between 2005 and 2007, the annual flow of Black migrants was essentially zero. But after the recession, during 2012 and 2014, Portland lost a net of 800 African American residents. Researchers said the study did not detail the reasons, but made a link between the decreased population and the gentrification of North and Northeast Portland, as well as increases in rents throughout the metro area. (AP Photo by Julie Jacobson)
The Lessons of Vanport
On Sept. 29, Laura Ann Howard and Muyoka Mwarabu received $1,000 each and $25 gift certificates to Portland Sweet Jam restaurant at a screening of “The Wake of Vanport,” The Skanner Foundation’s series of short films interviewing survivors of 1948’s Vanport flood. The event and the contest were both sponsored by the Oregon Lottery. The collection of short films screened is the second collection created since “The Wake of Vanport” began. Bernie Foster, publisher of The Skanner News, told the crowd he expects to add more films to the series next year. Howard and Mwarabu were the winners of an essay contest on the lessons of Vanport, and their essays were published in The Skanner. (Photo by Jerry Foster)
Oregon History Makers Awarded
The Oregon Historical Society hosted its annual dinner at the historic Montgomery Park building in Portland Oct 8, during which recipients were presented with the 2017 Oregon History Makers Medal. (Photo by Bernie Foster)
The Weinstein Effect
In October the New York Times and the New Yorker published stories alleging shocking misconduct by Harvey Weinstein. The powerful producer's misbehavior had long been the subject of whispers; by December, some 80 women had come forward. (Weinstein denies all nonconsensual sex.)
In the months since, an ongoing domino effect tumbled through not just Hollywood but at least a dozen other industries, resulting in powerful men being fired from their jobs, removed from their companies or resigning political posts. What began with just a handful of women standing up against one of Hollywood's most pugnacious power players has turned into a movement of its own. Now that some of the silences and stigmas around sexual harassment have been shattered, the flood gates are open.
Pictured here are a few of the growing number of powerful men who faced allegations of sexual harassment or assault. From left: Kevin Spacey, Brett Ratner, Louis C.K., Distin Hoffman, and bottom row from left, former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., former "Today" morning co-host Matt Lauer and former "CBS This Morning" co-host Charlie Rose, all of whom have been accused of sexual misconduct. (AP Photo/file)
Giovanni Battles spoke to The Skanner about his experience buying a house through the North/Northeast Preference policy – a house The preference policy, which was part of the North/Northeast Neighborhood Housing Strategy adopted by the Portland Housing Bureau in 2014, assigns points to applicants for homeownership assistance and income-restricted rental housing based on their relationship with the Albina neighborhood of Northeast Portland. Those who grew up in the Albina neighborhood could receive up to three points; people with parents or grandparents who had lived in the neighborhood could receive additional points, for a total of six possible points.
Battles, a SummerWorks coordinator for Multnomah County, received all six points, placing him high on the priority list for the homeownership assistance through the program. This summer he bought his first house at North Chataqua and Willis, three blocks from where is mother grew up and across the street from Rollins’ grandfather’s former house.
The housing preference policy is intended to reverse gentrification in the Northeast Portland area, but that’s a slow process. According to the Portland Housing Bureau, there were 1,100 total applicants for the homeownership programs under the preference policy. As of October, she said, of the 43 applicants in the pipeline, 7 percent are mortage ready; 28 percent are expected to be in six months and 51 percent will be in 12 to 18 months. In October there were 43 applicants that were in that pipeline. (Photo courtesy of Giovanni Battles)
Vera Katz Dies
Vera Katz, former mayor of Portland, passed away Dec. 11 at the age of 84. The German-born Katz moved from New York City to Portland in 1962 and became the first woman to serve as Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives in 1985. Later, she campaigned for mayor of Portland on a platform that included reducing crime rates and promoting public transportation. She was elected the 49th Mayor of Portland in 1993 and served three terms until 2005.