portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article announcements oregon & cascadia

anti-racism | community building | police / legal

Community Meeting: Justice for Kendra James? July 1st public meeting in North Portland

A meeting is scheduled to be held on Tuesday, July 1, 2003 from 5-10 PM at the Mt.Olivet Baptist Church Family Center, 8725 North Chautauqua Blvd. in Portland, Oregon to discuss the death of Kendra James.
This meeting, which is being set up by the Portland Police in conjunction with the Albina Ministerial Alliance, is alleged to be a community forum where answers will be given to the many questions that have arisen since officer McCollister shot and killed Kendra James in early May. The building, which is on the #4 Fessenden bus line, holds approximately 450 people.
A community meeting to 'answer questions' about the death of Kendra James has been scheduled for July 1 from 5-10 PM at the Mt.Olivet Baptist Church Family Center at 8725 North Chautauqua Blvd (this is in North Portland near University Park and on the #4 Fessenden bus line.)

The meeting, which had originally been scheduled for early June at Jefferson High School, is a joint effort of the Albina Ministerial Alliance, which has held several meetings and coordinated the public rally to demand justice for Kendra James, and the Portland police. The police and city officials have stated that they will attempt to present all the evidence to the public at that time.

This meeting information, which was taken from the Oregonian and other news sources, was accurate at the time of posting. It should be kept in mind that this public meeting has been re-scheduled and moved once already.

More importantly, it should be kept in mind that the Portland police, Chief Kroeker and Mayor Katz are attempting to walk a political tightrope here. They will do whatever is necessary to both preserve their jobs and maintain political control in Portland. The recent announcement of suspensions for the officers involved in the shooting, if true, would appear to be the necessary bone to be thrown to the public prior to this meeting. A long meeting (5 hours!) at which Chief Kroeker and Mayor Katz and assorted lackeys will attempt to bore and bedazzle the audience with trivia, minute details and police procedures, topped by announcements of the suspensions, is an attempt to deflect the anger that was obvious in the streets of Portland recently. Other public forums involving Chief Kroeker, such as the post-May Day 2000 and the meeting with the lesbian/gay community following release of his tapes by the Portland Alliance, have been viewed as political defeats for the Mayor and Kroeker.

Those who were most informed about the shooting, the grand jury members, decided against bringing charges against Officer McCollister. However, "several jurors said the shooting could have been avoided." "One juror said McCollister should not be allowed to carry a police badge." (Oregonian, 6/10/03). A number of the statements and actions of McCollister and his partners have been harshly questioned by local police officers as well as national experts in police procedure.

The question remains for the white activists who marched in the memorial rally for Kendra James: will we be reliable allies? The African-American community has been solid in its demand that Officer McCollister be fired, that current regulations governing shootings by police be changed, and that grand juries not be used to continually excuse police shootings.

Those who wish to see community control of the police, whether in the form of an independent civilian review board or other forms, as well as justice for Kendra James and her family, should be present at this meeting. We should be respectful of those who have earned our respect - and disdainful of those who have lied to the people of Portland time and again.
stopping extrajudicial executions 28.Jun.2003 15:53

Theresa Mitchell

(I posted this to the Code Pink list, I wanted to pass it on for general comment.)

Hi y'all--

In puzzling over whether to attend the community meeting over the shooting of Kendra James, I have the following (sometimes conflicting) thoughts:

White faces at the hearing are probably a good thing, I mean, so long as it's clear we are in solidarity with the Black community (how do we do that?).

And it does seem extremely unlikely that Kroeker, Katz, and company will do any song and dance other than their usual serious-faces-reassuring-damage-control tango. They fear and despise 'others,' meaning nonwhites and those worth less than a million bucks each. Any confrontation has to take that into account; they can't be wheedled into humility or compassion, and they can't be frightened into changing their genocidal attitude towards Northside Blacks. They will sit stony-faced through any and all shows of resentment; which is not at all to say that our feelings should not be manifest.

The press is securely in their pockets.

Perhaps a coordinated mass walkout would have some effect? --But then, that's a suggestion coming from a white woman, without consultation with anyone--surely a recipe for disaster.

Still, I want a reversal of the police-as-intimidator role, and I want a full stop to the attitude that cops should pull their pistols out at every opportunity. There has been a complete sea-change in cop attitude in this regard since I was a kid. I remember newspaper articles about retiring cops, who would state with pride that they had drawn their weapons perhaps twice in forty years.

The cops have a vast and varied set of non-lethal, non-armed techniques available to them. A cop in Austin held a self-defense course which taught me (for example) how to (with much practice) yank a gun right out of the hands of an attacker--from behind. And there are amazing judo, kung-fu, aikido, etc. techniques available for combat; NLP and other psychological techniques can be taught to cops; really, there's so much more a cop can do, in a tense situation, other than pull that hand cannon out. And for God's sake--it's not a revolver .38 with five pieces of Nato spec in it any more, it's a 20-shot Glock with exploding rounds.

The usual argument against this is that the situation is just too dangerous--maximum force has to be immediately applied. I reject this, since police forces all over the world (and even within the living memory of this nation) get by without that doctrine. Further--and I think this point is often lost--the cops are supposed to have a certain dedication to public service. We hear much about the occasional murder of cops, but the fact is, many jobs have a higher rate of on-the-job deaths, including garbage workers. But we don't stop the city for a garbage worker's funeral.

And then there's racial profiling. Add it all together, and you've got the racist, fascist locked-down terror state that starts at Broadway and MLK and extends to Columbia Boulevard. It's unacceptable.

So I'm glad to see that people are going to the legislature with this, because although I consider the lot of them to be corporate prostitutes, they're not the brick wall of resistance that the City of Occupied Portland is.

All right....forgive me for the lengthy post, please; thank you for reading this far.

love and peace

Theresa

a little exaggeration, a little frustration 28.Jun.2003 19:57

just be reasonable

Exploding bullets. Where did you get that?

How many garbage workers were killed by people that they picked up trash from? You need to understand there's a difference between getting killed and murdered. There is also a difference between getting killed just doing your job and getting killed trying to protect the very community YOU live in.

I know everyone is so sick of hearing it, because it's like "playing the race card", but didn't fire and police show their love for mankind and willingness to put others first in the face of great danger when they rushed into the World Trade Center towers? Can police, as a whole, really be as bad as you believe?

People are just frustrated. Breathe. Society is made of imperfect people. We have imperfect people trying to police imperfect people. In and of it self is the recipe for disaster, and we see it all the time. I'm not saying don't rise up and demand change. The police know they need better training. Help support the change and work with them, instead of against them.

Well... 29.Jun.2003 08:37

Red

It's worth remember that police officer is not actually listed as one of the more dangerous jobs in America - the opposite, WAY down the list of dangerous occupation, far below highway worker or trucker. Perhaps some officers believe that brutalizing others keeps things that way. But whatever the case, the cops simply don't have an argument that they face anywhere near the dangers of, say, highway workers.

On the other hand, given the number of killings BY police officers, you can see why many folks have an urge to get away from the police at the first reasonable opportunity - which is essentially what Kendra James was killed for doing.

In anycase, a "community meeting" organized in concert with the police is just a joke. It's pretty obvious that the police aren't going to talk about what they are willing to do but rather simply say what they expect others should beleive. You might as well have a "community meeting" with your Automatic Teller Machine. You won't hear anything new.

A public meeting with serious discussion seems like a good idea - it seems unlikely to me that this will be it.

Red

Some answers 30.Jun.2003 13:59

Not a medic

1. The 9 mm round from a Glock semiautomatic that killed Kendra James was not an explosive bullet. Those exist, but police forces in the U.S. do not generally use them.

2. It is not that difficult to figure out how to act in solidarity with communities of people of color. You talk with them. You listen to what they have to say. You read what some of them have written. And then you stand beside them when they ask for it.
It is not difficult to figure out. It may be difficult to do.

3. You also don't refer to them as "non-white."

4. Responding to "just be reasonable" would be tempting. For instance, none of their suggestions respond to the fact that Kendra James has been killed by a Portland police officer. I work in a job that is more dangerous than that of police officers. If I, or any of my co-workers, killed another person through negligence or deliberately, we would be fired. As we should be.
And so I will be reasonable: Fire officer McCollister. Fire Chief Kroeker. Put the community in control of the police.