The event, which was organized under the auspices of the Albina Ministerial Alliance, will be the first opportunity for the general public to hear the 'official' explanation for why Kendra James was shot and killed by Portland police officer Scott McCollister. Police chief Kroeker will also have an opportunity to explain why McCollister is facing a suspension and will not be fired.
As a number of people have pointed out, this will also be an attempt by chief Kroeker and mayor Katz to moderate community outrage over the shooting,which occurred on May 5th on the North Skidmore Street overpass.
Kroeker announced the suspension of officer McCollister, though not his fellow officers, last week in a political balancing act seeking to avoid more calls for Kroeker's resignation from the Portland community, yet maintain the allegiance of the Portland police union, which has vowed to fight any sanctions against McCollister.
The convenors of the event, the Albina Ministerial Alliance, have already rejected Kroeker's compromise and reiterated their call for the firing of McCollister. One grand juror who heard and witnessed the evidence in the case, despite dismissing charges, stated "McCollister should not be allowed to carry a police badge."
A Challenge to white activists in Portland
One writer recently asked what white activists could do to support what has been a largely African-American-led struggle,both to fire McCollister and to call for community control of the police.
Here are some simple suggestions. Carrying them out may be difficult, but they are simple to consider:
1. Show up. If every white anti-war activist and Critical Mass rider who has been arrested, pepper-sprayed or attacked by Portland police showed up, there would not be room for us all. That would be a sign of solidarity.
2. Show up with your friends. Make it clear that you are there to support Kendra James' family and every victim of police brutality. While large signs won't make it into the church center, there will be ways to show where you stand.
3. Stop referring to people of color as "non-white". We don't call me a "non-female first aid provider". We would not call Theresa Mitchell of KBOO a "non-male radio activist". No person of color refers to themselves as "non-white", so why should you?
4. If you don't get it, try reading and listening to what people of color have to say and write. Post to IndyMedia Portland and ask, 'Where can I get trainings on fighting racism?' You will have to look beyond the pages of Indy Media Portland, but hey, expand your worldview. Try reading the interview with Ernesto Aguilar of Anarchist People of Color in the current front page of Infoshop.com
As always, I can be reached through Black Cross Health Collective. They are not responsible for my views.