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Portland City still resists police accountability

By       Message David Whitfield       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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PORTLAND City continues to resist bringing its rogue police force under open accountability.

At the end of March a Federal judge told the City and legal representatives of the police union he wanted agreement that his court would retain some open annual oversight of mandated police reforms. Without that agreement he would not sign off on a proposed settlement between the US Department of Justice and the City of Portland to reform police procedures and training.

The settlement follows an investigation by the DoJ into a pattern of excessive use of force by Portland's police.

The judge gave the City and DoJ up to three weeks to return to his court with their views.

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Now, it is reported, Portland has rejected the judge's proposal.

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THE City of Portland has proposed that it should hold annual hearings on progress of police reforms agreed with the DoJ at a meeting of the city's council, rejecting a federal judge's request to maintain annual oversight in his court.

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The City has said it would supply videos and transcripts of the council hearings to the court for review. The federal judge could provide written questions to city officials, which would require the city's response.

US District Court Judge Michael Simon rejected the city proposal in a telephone conference at the end of April: "It is not consistent with what I described in court, and it would be my current inclination to disapprove the settlement agreement, if that is the proposal from the parties.

"I don't consider that to be sufficient."

Details of the telephone conference between the judge, the City and the DoJ were obtained by The Oregonian through a public records request and reported by Maxine Bernstein on 12 May, coincidentally the fourth anniversary of the killing of 25-year-old African-American Keaton Otis by Portland police in a seven-second barrage of 32 shots in the middle of the evening rush hour.

The proposed settlement between the City and the DoJ followed investigations by the DoJ into a pattern of use of excessive force by the Portland Police Bureau.

But to the disappointment of local community activists the settlement only focuses on force against those with mental illness or with perceived mental illness. Pointedly the investigation avoided any reference to racial profiling and the PPB's notorious targeting of Portland's communities of color.

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In particular the DoJ's parameters and timescale were written to cut off any probe into the killing of Keaton Otis on 12 May 2010. He was shot 23 times within minutes after being pulled over on what the police admitted was a "pretext stop".

They later said he was "wearing a hoodie" and "looked like a gangster".

The killing, just yards from two main roads at the height of the rush-hour, was recorded on video.

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David Whitfield was a progressive journalist in the UK for 25+ years. For the past nine years he has taught math at a public high school in Portland, OR. Blogs on education at pifactory.wordpress.com, on general stuff at hippasus.wordpress.com (more...)
 

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