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Albina Ministerial Alliance forum: yawn

With apologies to Shakespeare, the Albina Ministerial Alliance report/forum was little more than a 'tale told by idiots, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.'
Presentation was long-winded, garbled, and judging from the number and degree of inaccuracies based on sloppy research (talk about the pot calling the kettle black). According to the AMA's own Executive Summary, the AMA investigation was based on nothing more than a review of "...existing manuals, policies and reports and ... interviews with public officials." Media coverage was also cited as having been part of their review material, as if the media was a reliable source of factual information. Please.

A new video re-enactment of the shooting was clumsily presented. Repeated rewinding and replaying of segments of the tape, produced by the AMA and accompanied a stumbling live narrative by the presenter, only served create more confusion about the sequence of events on the night Officer McCollister committed felony murder on Kendra James.

In terms of community participation in the investigation, there was none. Instead, all the usual self-serving glory-seeking media hogs were up there on the altar basking in the glow of the tv camera lights, but no new or radical faces from the community were to be seen. What insights that might have been contributed by the audience during the public input segment were promptly stifled by former Oregon state representative Jo Ann "hey! look at me!" Bowman, who set the ground rules for public comment and then promptly yanked the microphone away from anyone who dared defy them by so much as a syllable. Immediately following her display of raw censorship of public involvement, she implored the audience to join the newly-formed "Alliance for Police and Community Accountability" of which Bowman will be the chair. Oh, sign me up.

At the conclusion of the meeting, there was an almost telemarketing-style appeal for donations of "$25, $30, $50 or more." Blank business size envelopes for this purpose were distributed by ushers to an increasingly restive audience, already muttering amongst itself over the recent squelching of public input.

Bottom line: most people left unsatisfied and with the feeling that one should expect nothing from the Albina Ministerial Alliance or any of its associated committees or organizations.
I beg to differ ... 07.Sep.2003 15:31

Pink Emma

Pay no attention to this ridiculous post. "street 66" is an untrustworthy provacateur. The presentation was worthy and thought provoking. The recommendations and the plan to start a new community-wide alliance are commendable.

How about some facts to back up your comclusions? 07.Sep.2003 22:52

DJ Shadow

I love this kind of "reporting". Lots of opinions, lots of conclusions, but NO facts backing it up. Jumbled presentations, sloppy A/V work, media hogs...yeah, yeah, yeah. These are all opinions. The only fact mentioned is "the number and degree of inaccuracies ". But not one "inaccuracy" is described. The only thing I know for sure from this post is that "street 66" likes cops more than Joanne Bowman.

I'm with Pink Emma, this sounds like BS to me.

I left unsatisfied 08.Sep.2003 10:13

the meeting was a sham

Why is everyone who posts something that says your little meetings are useless a provacateur?

This post is accurate from what I saw. I left disatisfied and discouraged.

The AMA said NOTHING NEW. Making recommendations that have been made over the last ten years does nothing to help the cause when you pretend they are your own. It demeans other people's efforts and deludes people into believing that finally things will change when it has already been shown that these same recommendations have consistently ben ignored.

The AMA did not listen to anyone. They ignored hard questions by not responding or sidestepping them. The woman with the microphone was rude and consistently cut people off. One man was rendered entirely speechless and sat down embarassed without saying a word.

The AMA did not include the community in forming this new alliance. How can you form an alliance without groups to join the alliance?

The AMA appointed the leaders of the new alliance - What? Is this Iraq? Is it the new Governing Council of Portland?

And the list goes on and on.

Activism in this city is the most dysfunctional I've ever experienced. It's no wonder this town sucks. Portland activists make it that way.

Questions to Portland activists 08.Sep.2003 10:23

.

These questions to activists were posted as a comment about the AMA on another post. They are great questions about how the activists in this city conduct themselves and are definitely relevant to this post.

"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?"

Maybe the AMA was great, maybe it wasn't. Bickering amongst ourselves only helps the police and the politicians.

critical look okay 08.Sep.2003 10:46

almost ready to quit

There's nothing wrong with activists taking a critical look at themselves and at actions such as the Alliance's forum on Saturday. If we don't do that, then we would be acting like the majority of police Bureau officials and the police union where officers are right no matter what. Think how much more honorable the Bureau would be, if officers would admit when they're wrong and then do something about it. Maybe as activists we should be setting such people a good example.

We complain all the time about how the city does this and that without public input, such as the Mayor's decision to make Foxworth the new chief, etc.

And yet, this so-called Alliance did exactly the same thing. They met as a small exclusive group, leaving out many voices that would have made the dialogue much richer and wiser. As a result, the forum was sophomoric and some of the recommendations senseless. Imagine what the Alliance could have been if they hadn't refused others' input, especially those people who have valuable insights & expertise to give. Now that they have come up with their own recommendations and named who will be in charge, now they want our money and hard work to push their suggestions. While some of their recommendations are sound, many are not, including the one about beefing up the IPR rather than calling for a truly independent police review board that would not be controlled by the City Auditor. Several attempts have already been made in vain to improve this system, including efforts by 5 intelligent Citizen Review Committee members, who finally resigned out of frustration. It would be much more effective for activists and other citizens to push a new initiative campaign for a real independent review board.

Not so ... 08.Sep.2003 11:00

Pink Emma

Respone to comments from author "the meeting was a sham":

"sham" said: "The AMA did not listen to anyone. "
I say: Not true. Q/A sessions were held more than once during the afternoon. Some of the questions raised by community members were taken very seriously by the AMA committee members. Good ideas were suggested and the committee took notes and at one point a rep. of the Policy & Training subcommittee expressed thanks for a great idea they had not thought of: a suggestion to have performance goals for police conduct - which could serve both the purpose of recognizing good conduct and sanctioning misconduct.

"sham" said: "The woman with the microphone was rude and consistently cut people off. One man was rendered entirely speechless and sat down embarassed without saying a word."

I say: Q/A sessions are notorious for easily getting out of control. IMHO, the committee developed an effective plan for the QA. Guidelines were announced that only questions concerning the report (as present that day) would be entertained. A few speakers got on the mike and began long rambling monologues not within the scope of the process. Ms. Bowman handled these people with grace and dignity while moving the process forward so a three hour session would not last all day and night.

"sham" said: "The AMA did not include the community in forming this new alliance. How can you form an alliance without groups to join the alliance?"

I say: This is flat-out untrue. The whole thrust of the third main topic - the new alliance - was to make a call-out to the entire community, all neighborhoods, all ethnic and cultural groups, including both individuals and organizations, to join this new organization. Sign-up sheets were available in the lobby. The minister stated they felt the entire community needs to become involved now. The minister outlined the following beliefs:

- a community wide alliance is needed,
- this should be a broad alliance including citizens from throughout the city,
- this will help to ensure a louder voice demanding police accountability and true community policing,
- this alliance should have the freedom to set its own policies and directions

"sham" said: "The AMA appointed the leaders of the new alliance - What? Is this Iraq? Is it the new Governing Council of Portland?"

I say: The AMA chose a COORDINATOR - former State Rep. JoAnn Bowman. The minister specifically said Coordinator. Relax, sham. Get a life. Get a clue.

it's critical to be critical 08.Sep.2003 11:34

ready to quit, but won't give up

It's sad to see Pink Emma feel so threatened by criticism of the Alliance forum, but maybe it's because she doesn't have the background of police accountability work and efforts. Sadly, her reaction shows exactly what was wrong with what the Alliance did -- that to people who don't know this issue very well, the Alliance's "investigation" and recommendations probably sound pretty darn good. She doesn't understand as do people who have put tons of hours (out of our own pockets) of work into this issue, that the "Alliance" made all the decisions and that more importantly, those decisions were not very wise -- they didn't even come close to what they should have been. So, if many people blindly support this group with money and time, it keeps those people from supporting efforts that would have been much more effective.

I really encourage people to open their minds - talk to people outside your circle - outside your comfort zone - don't believe everything you hear - ask questions!

Know all the players before you make judgments -- hear all sides of the story.

Pink Emma 08.Sep.2003 11:52

sham

I have a life Pink Emma, thank you. I also have way more of a clue than you do. Of course you think you know everything. That's how activists act in Portland.

Thanks for your rude and narrow minded attack. It has brought me to a decision. I used to dedicate my life to activism particularly with regard to police accountablity. I have now given up on Portland and will fight here no longer.

You are a close minded fool Pink Emma - you win. You win but in the end the community loses, typical.

How unfortunate people were bored. 08.Sep.2003 20:38

Observator

This wasn't meant to be a Holliwood movie. Go pay nine bucks at Moyers if you want to have fun.
This was serious business. Serious business can sometimes be slow and boring and the truth isn't always a joyride. This wasn't meant to be any more than it turned out to be. I was reaffiremed in my opinions about matters. I hope that some day justice is fully done in the Kendra James case. There are many people sacrificing time and money for a worthy cause.
I hope you complainers can find a worthy cause to use yourselves up in some day, instead of complaining about other peoples efforts.
It's not the whiners on the sidelines that matter.

Yeah, we know that democracy's a bitch and a bore, but ... 09.Sep.2003 02:02

Dance

So a significant force in the African-American community of Portland has stepped forward and taken a much-needed active leadership role in the demand for police accountability. But several posters here are not only dissatisfied, but apparently discouraged and outraged by the AMA's investigation, forum, and leadership.

So what do you suggest doing about this other than complaining on Indymedia and talking of "ready to quit" and "I have now given up on Portland"?