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Report on Albina Ministerial Alliance forum Saturday

The Albina Ministerial Alliance forum was disappointing at best. Most of the major players in the police accountability movement were left out of the six-member panel and those that were included clearly did not do their homework.
The Albina Ministerial Alliance forum was disappointing at best. Most of the major players in the police accountability movement were left out of the six-member panel which included mostly African American pastors, Dan Handelman, Marlene Howell of Sisters of the Road Cafe, and Marta Guembes of the Latino Network. Those people who were included clearly did not do their homework. For instance, one of the group's recommendations stemmed from a claim that prosecutors issue arrest warrants. (The group recommended that 3 members of the grand jury make a decision to issue a warrant, instead.) But, per Oregon state law, only magistrates - judges - can issue warrants based on probable cause. The AMA group also suggested that City Council pass an ordinance that would allow the Mayor to call for a public inquest rather than allowing the District Attorney to call a Grand Jury. First, City Council will never pass such an ordinance, and second, it would violate state law.

Handelman, who makes all the decisions for Portland Copwatch, essentially endorsed the Independent Police Review by suggesting that it be given enhanced powers rather than suggesting that Portland get a truly independent review board. There is no way that the IPR under the rule of a very corrupt City Auditor (Gary Blackmer) would ever be an impartial, effective review board even if City Council voted to give it meaningful powers (which it will never do, due to police union opposition.) The IPR already has a limited ability to independently investigate, but has never done this. The AMA's endorsement of the IPR may make it more difficult for a new initiative campaign to convince Portlanders that only a truly independent review board will help to hold the police accountable.

This group's so-called investigation was only a review of police documents and manuals. They did a video re-enactment, claiming it was supported by the evidence.

Some of this group's recommendations were sound, but only echoed a small number of those already made by the Police Assessment Resource Center (PARC), which issued 89 recommendations.

The group asked for donations at the end since it has formed a new group called the Alliance for Police and Community Accountability. They asked for people to sign up and help them push the implementation of their recommendations, but before that announced the co-chairs and spearhead of the alliance -- Joann Bowman. Bowman was the faciliator in terms of audience questions, but acted inappropriately by cutting people off mid-stream if they didn't ask questions but instead wanted to make comments. Several people seated around the large church sanctuary murmured disapproval at Bowman's behavior. She also claimed that Handelman was the only attendee of IPR meetings. Since Bowman has never attended a single IPR meeting, it's pretty obvious where she got that piece of misinformation.

this article brought to you by the portland police association 07.Sep.2003 13:08

just a thought...

officer mccollister, is that you? or perhaps one of your comrades on the force? maybe it's your union rep for the portland police association or an agent of the ppb's central intelligence division?

i really like how you try to smear every person on the ama committee by reference and others by name. nice try.

what really occurred saturday is that the aba committee members used common sense and the facts to reveal that the officer lied and that, among other things, the officer shot from 'not less than 30 inches' from kendra james, according to the state forensics lab. the ama also concluded, based on witness statements, inculding officers bean, carruthers, and reynolds, that mcollister was outside the car when he shot james.

the ppb and the district attorney's office colluded to cover up these facts and accepted an explanation that the shooter was mostly inside the car and in fear for his life, albeit due to the fact that his own repeated negligent actions led him into that position. if he was outside the car, that would make him more than just incompetent to perform his sworn duties as a police officer. that would make him a plain murderer, wouldn't it?

"Just A Thought" now left with none 07.Sep.2003 15:42

stepping razor

After reading the comments of "just a thought," I must confess I never knew that parrots could type, since most of what was written is simply reciting back what was said by the committee members, adding no insight or original analysis of his/her own.

In fact, "audience member" properly and accurately points out the errors in research and law, at no time intimating that McCollister is not indeed guilty of felony murder, as "Just a Thought seems to be attempting to imply in accusing "audience member" of being a troll. In fact, given the double-digit IQ level of most cops, their absence of critical thinking skills, and their lack of facility in the use of the English language, I submit that it is far more likely that if there is a troll in our midst, it is "just a thought" him/herself.

Props to "audience member" for having the courage to name names in pointing out the dearth of fresh blood in the insular activist movement, and for identifying those for whom the driving force behind their commitment to a cause is that shining moment in the corporate media spotlight. (for a far more thoughtful and articulate analysis on this subject, read the following comment posted 6 Sept to the indymedia article entitled "The PPRC is Low on Blood Sugar":

activist dysfunction is big time in Portlan 06.Sep.2003 18:33
------------------------------------------------------------------------
ready to quit

This is why we're not going to get anywhere with activitism in Portland, because activists, especially those people who have placed themselves into leadership roles, won't look hard at their own personal issues and therefore let them get in the way of the movement. Anyone who is in a leadership role or who is getting media attention or some kind of recognition as a leader should step down from that role unless they honor and accept new ideas/dialogue. You'd think that activists would be the very people where dialogue, where new energy, where individual expertise & talent, would be welcomed with open arms. Instead, many of the so-called leaders feel threatened and so negate those ideas or approaches and act as if only they have all the answers. Instead of delegating duties or referring people to other activists who might know something about a certain issue, they jump on everything in their need to control. Maybe activists should ask themselves some questions:
When I see a new activist, am I friendly and welcoming?
When I hear new ideas, am I willing to discuss them even if I initially disagree?
If an issue comes up and a group wants me to help, but I know someone who has a lot of expertise in that area, do I refer the group to that person, or not mention them, or maybe even bad-mouth the person, which effectively shuts that person out of an opportunity to contribute to the issue?
Am I working towards change and progress, or am I trying to hold onto to my position?
Am I making sure that whenever an opportunity comes up to network separate groups I do my best get people together?
When the media contacts me, do I refer them to other activists who know a lot about the issue?

So True 07.Sep.2003 16:28

abc

This debate has been plagued by such one sided rhetoric as mimicking the one sided behavior of the police union. Why can't you possibly believe that there is a viewpoint that is not all or nothing. The above does not sound like a troll. Please, there are some self serving people in all camps, including those who attended this meeting. This includes JoAnn Bowman who, as much as I applaud her work, is a bit overbearing and grandstanding. If we're to get to the bottom of the PPD problems, we need to look at all viewpoints

I sat through the AMA meeting 08.Sep.2003 10:01

and it made me want to puke

I agree with the original post. The meeting was another waste of my time. Activism in Portland is nothing more than petty squabbling and ego stroking. There is no cooperation only talk talk and some more talk. It is so dysfunctional that the activists are actually helping things get worse in this city. The politicians, the press and the police play the activist community to serve their own sick agendas and the activists let them. I makes me want to puke.

So what would YOU do next? 08.Sep.2003 20:03

Dance

Although Audience Member's report above of the AMA event is mostly accurate, it is a very limited view of September 6th's proceedings and focuses only on the negatives. I agree with much of the criticism, but it only represents about 15% of what I experienced at the event. (I thought the July Kendra James "forum" was mostly an outrage. A far as I understood, it was organized by Vera's office, but the AMA was named as the official sponsor, when all they did was provide the hosting venue and attend as the "official" representatives of the community. Saturday's event was truly organized by the AMA and was far more effective and productive.)

I find it noteworthy that no one else here found it worth noting that the Albina Ministerial Association has taken a very big and needed leadership role on this issue. I think they are deserving of criticism for not having stepped forward years ago, but it's an important and powerful move. The groups working for police accountability over the past decade prior to the killing of Kendra James have been almost exclusively white (with a significant number of Hispanic voices speaking out after Mejia Poot was killed). Only the official committees, such as the Mayor's Task Force that preceded the formation of the IPR, have included many people of color.

I noticed a failure - whether by design or ignorance - to include experienced police accountability activists in July's event. Audience Member says "Most of the major players in the police accountability movement were left out... ." Who do you have in mind? And what would you propose as the appropriate next step in organizing politically to reform the culture or behavior of the police in Portland or in instituting a real community review process over them?

I was amazed at the release of the PARC report. 08.Sep.2003 20:23

Dance

This is certainly the time to keep pushing for reforms and accountability at the PPB. And not to let Vera's change in police chiefs take the spotlight off of recommendations from PARC or the AMA or diffuse community energy for institutional change.

I had no idea the PARC Report had been commissioned and was shocked to learn that Gary Blackmer and Richard Rosenthal had ordered it (or so I read in one of the local papers). Can anyone tell me why they wanted it?

Response to Dance 10.Sep.2003 09:18

.

Fear.

They are all trying to cover their asses. They know what is going on and they are trying to protect themselves from law suits.

It is no accident that the report covered 1997-2000 only. By investigating only those years there was no way to tie the corruption lies and murders to Kroeker and the rest of his high level cronies. If the public bought the report Kroeker could stay. If the public reacted adversely Kroker would go. If Kroeker had to go then Foxworth - removed from high central leadership before 2001 (as NE Commander) could step in. Foxworth is just a pawn - he is as bad as Kroker but they know he will fall in line - especially if his former boss Potter becomes mayor.

It is also no accident that Tate and AMA stepped in to sing the praises of Foxworth and the effforts to reform. All of this is a political game designed to stop people from demanding real change. And it worked - or so they think.

I'll try one more time 10.Sep.2003 10:51

almost ready to quit

Unfortunately, some of the last response is true; however, the reason for the PARC's review only going up to June 2000 is that City Council wanted to protect City liability. There's a two-year statute of limitations for filing a civil lawsuit against the City. Council did not want PARC to review and, of course, publicly expose Bureau deficiencies that lawsuit filers could use as evidence of City negligence. So, all the current cases, in other words, cases that were not two years old or older, were not thoroughly examined by PARC, and won't be until those cases are at least two years old or older, if any involve pending lawsuits.

Auditor Blackmer fought against the IPR reviewing deadly force cases - but due to public pressure, City Council insisted on some kind of review. Blackmer then brought in an outside expert, but refused to let the Citizens Review Committee assist the expert. Remember, though, that PARC found many problems that were not the result of a lack of good PPB policies, but rather were caused by PPB not practicing those policies. There's no guarantee, then, that even if the Bureau accepts the changes, it will actually apply them. And now that there's this push by the AMA to try to improve the pro-police IPR, rather than to establish a truly independent police review board, even if the City assigns a civilian (thru the IPR) to monitor police investigations of deadly force, there's no guarantee that this person will be unbiased and so it would be no different from a police monitor.

Deadly force guidelines 19.Sep.2003 22:50

Roseanna

I haven't yet been able to read the suggestions and guidelines that the Alliance came up with but I do know that what is needed most is for the community to make it very plain what it expects of officers concerning the use of deadly force. If officers just know that they can shoot if they think someone might get hurt and the community just knows that someone was killed that shouldn't have been they all we have are citizens butting heads with the police force while neither knows what the other wants.
Maybe some officers have double digit IQ's but if the community makes itself very clear what is acceptable concerning lethal force then we might get somewhere. The more clarity the better and that is the community's responsibility. It's also the PPB's responsibility to abide by the guidelines set by the community. Most community members work 40 hours a week to pay the taxes that pay the officers high salary so they should have to listen to the community.