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Pervasive Culture of Violence in Portland Police Bureau Leads to Killing

Jahar Perez is one more in a long line of people of color gunned down by the Portland police. He's the second unarmed person of color in less than a year to be murdered during the course of a "routine" traffic stop. Why is this happening?
If the PPB had dealt with officer Scott McCollister as they should have, perhaps the Perez family would not be burying one of their own today. McCollister shot Kendra James, an unarmed mother of two, in cold blood and left her to die in the street. McCollister then lied to a grand jury about his role in the killing. Although the fact that she was not armed is indisputable, the officers involved were "cleared of wrongdoing" less than a year ago. McCollister was then cannonized by the police union as being a hero and/or sacrificial lamb for having to endure a few month's suspension for the killing. The corporate media, complicit as always, continued to hide his face out of "respect," even as they continued to smear Kendra James' name with allegations of drug abuse and a "who cares, she was just a black junkie" attitude.

Not long before that, officers who gunned down an unarmed Jose Mejia Poot within the halls of a mental hospital (a MENTAL HOSPITAL!) were awarded medals by the PPB. Are these isolated incidents? Or are they symptomatic of a dangerous and pervasive culture of violence that led to the death of Jahar Perez? I believe it is the latter.

Shortly after the Kendra James killing, the police union devoted an entire issue of its monthly "Rap Sheet" to circling the wagons around the killer. In an article entitled, "Responsibility for Shooting Lies with Kendra James," the author blames an unarmed, 90 lb James for provoking the fatal attack by a large and fully armed McCollister. He referred to those who protested the killing as a "vocal minority" and derided them for their refusal to just "accept any explanation that the police bureau gives them." He, like the authors of all the other articles that month, admonishes readers to place the blame onto the victim and stop picking on McCollister.

Another article in the same issue pleads for money to give to McCollister to sustain him through his suspension. Yet another calls McCollister a "scapegoat for the city" who "follows the less-traveled path, even though it may be the right one." Waxing mystical, philosophical, and maudlin, the entire collection begs one to understand that McCollister is a saint, James was not worthy to breathe the same air as he. The Police union proceeded to make something of a celebrity out of all the officers involved, particularly McCollister.

Is it possible that Officer Jason Sery, who murdered Jahar Perez, wanted in on that celebrity status? I believe so. It may not even have been a conscious decision, but surely an internal culture in which a murderer is praised, lauded, and awarded donated funds must have an effect on the psyches of other officers. Particularly an officer like Sery, who was apparently somewhat emotionally unstable to begin with. Perhaps he's waiting for the love and attention of his fellow officers. Perhaps he just wants to see his name in the next issue of the Rap Sheet.

Whatever his personal issues, it's time to finally deal with police killings in a manner more fitting to the crime. It is time to end the PPB's culture of violence and disrespect for the people of this city. It is time to brand the killers as criminals, not celebrities. It is time to place the blame for police violence where it belongs -- with the officers themselves, and not with the victims of their crimes. How long will we accept the reign of terror we struggle with under the Portland police state?
Absolutely. 31.Mar.2004 07:51

Tony Blair's dog

Start with the sacking of Foxworth since he obviously
is not capable of running a sound police force.

Then make sure that killers, even if they have a badge,
are punished, not rewarded.

I agree with what you're saying there catwoman 31.Mar.2004 08:37

JoJo

as for the RAP SHEET that the cops use to "communicate" with each other, if you go on
down further under this OPEN PUBLISHING Listing, you'll find one: WHERE IS PIC OF SCOTT
McCOLLISTER? with lot's of comments already, mainly actual postings from this RAP SHEET
itself. It's funny that people would actually write such silly stuff, but they did???

Fear/ignorance of the negros 31.Mar.2004 09:33

77

One thing that never is discussed is the obvious FEAR white cops have of black people. The PO-PO are over whelmingly white. The murder of Perez while he sat in his car unarmed would never have happened with an officer of color, or would of never happened if the white officer was connected to the community and knew the area/people he was patrolling and was not afraid of his environment. The fact that Perez was tasered AFTER he was shot 4 times point blank shows the fear in both officers and the lack of any nuances that a "Peace Officer" should have.

I much agree with what 77 is writing 31.Mar.2004 09:51

Merlin

as most of the police here are white, who've largely gotten their jobs via "good old boy networking" and
the vast majority are NOT even from the City of Portland, as the were recruited from elsewhere to come
here for these jobs. The vast majority don't even live in the city, as per Sery, who himself, like most
lives outside the jurisdiction that they purportedly "serve", and one wonders WHY? Is it because such
makes it difficult to be served Civil lawsuits that would make claims against their personal property, or are they afraid their "actions" will provoke citizen outrage and they'll be held accountable? Seems
to me that IF they're into "peace officer" or "community policing" then they'd live in the community to
begin with, for how can they possibly have a realistic appreciation of the community they supposedly
"serve and protect" if they don't know them, except through the prism of their own PREJUDICES and warped
biases? WE also need to look into the matter of "factions" within the totality of the force, in which
there are abnormally high numbers of ultra-rightwingers with militaristic authoritarian mentalities that
totally preclude them from being viable "peace officer" material capable of "community policing", and we
need to dig deep into the longstanding rumors that the Brotherhood of the Strong has a sizeable member-
ship within the ranks of the younger cops brought in from elsewhere via "good old boy networking" and
we need to look into certain religious groupings having a higher that "normal" representation present on
the force for "blind justice" would dictate that whatever religious membership is present would follow
along the same "normal" population distribution norms...if there are any groupings with higher rates, it
means they were "specificially recruited" via "good old boy networking" and are FIRST to be discharged
in the era of REFORM! Let's hear it?

The Smear Begins 31.Mar.2004 10:34

CatWoman

Predictably enough, the smear campaign against the victim of this crime has begun. Rumor has it that the corporate media is reporting today that there was a "mysterious white power" of some kind in the victim's car, and that he had "previous brushes with the law." By all means, then, take him down for a turn signal violation.

I confess that I did not hear the report in which these facts were shared, as I try to avoid the corporate media like the plague that it is. However, 2 different people have told me they heard this on the radio this morning. I can't say I'm surprised, only disgusted.

diversion programming 31.Mar.2004 10:39

could it be

is it possible that this killing was intentional, just to create the outrage, and thus the diversion from the real issue. even if it wasn't intentional... it's still a diversion.

Yes this guy must be held accountable... but we need to recognize that this shit is happening all over the US, all over the world. If portland activists spend all of their time over the next few months protesting this outrage, then they won't be focusing their energy on the all important Dem primary.

If Kerry wins Oregon and the Dem nomination... you can bet the Police state will continue... if Kucinich wins Oregon, this could throw a major cog in the NWO machine.

Yes be outraged at this brutality, but don't lose site of the big picture. You want these injustices to end, we must fight for global change... and yes, now Oregon has a chance to make a huge impact on our planet.

As we go out and protest this BS, we should be enlightening the people of NE portland that their vote does count.... they can help end this brutality by voting Kucinich.

Is it connected?
Kucinich will end the drug war. Kendra James was killed because of the drug war.
Jahar Perez was killed because of stupid cops and poor training. Kucinich will address the fact that only gun loving, violent aggressive freaks join the police force. The reason for many senseless deaths is shallow, stupid, trigger happy cops- only Kucinich will address it.

How many poor people in this neighborhood know that Kucinich will end the drug war and prisons for profit. Rehabilitation not incarceration... I'll bet 100% of the community wants this, but probably 0% know it's an option.

It's up to us to use this opportunity to educate the neighborhood (the whole state) about our chance to change the world.

peace

oh yeah- must tell folks that even though Al was saying some great things at the debates, he's gone and backed corporate stooge kerry... don't vote for Al the sellout.

What the Hell? 31.Mar.2004 10:54

kucinich???

I do not think this is an appropriate time to be trotting out slogans for a political campaign. The issue of daily police repression and violence in our streets is THE issue at hand. NOT the "all important democratic primary."

While I commend your enthusiasm for the cause you have adopted, I do not appreciate the attempt to co-opt real and meaningful dialogue on an issue as important and sobering as this for a cheap political ploy.

Where was the TASER? 31.Mar.2004 11:23

cthulhu

It was just a few months ago that the local media was focusing on the PPB's use of non-lethal weaponry such as the TASER, which incapacitates via electrical shock, rubber bullets, and our old nemesis, mace. Where was the TASER during this arrest?

Derrick Foxworth is mortified by this murder. Calls to oust him, however, are premature. He's barely gotten his feet wet in the job, and stepped into the office inheriting the legacy of Kroeker's disastrous reign. And while he is police chief, we need to remember that it is each officer's individual decision to use lethal force. Conspiracy theorists may disagree, but there is no mandate or secret initiative to send cops into the streets to murder. For them, it accomplishes absolutely nothing but a continuing mistrust among the people they serve--something that makes every police officer's job more difficult.

All of the facts are not in. Fortunately, we have a public inquiry and a grand jury investigation to come. And Officer Sery is already being punished with the knowledge that he killed an unarmed man.

The Taser 31.Mar.2004 11:30

confused officer

"Where was the TASER during this arrest?"

Oh, that thing? That was used after they shot him multiple times. I guess they were confused. They thought it was an after-lethal force weapon, not a non-lethal force weapon.

which part of 'police state' 31.Mar.2004 11:39

don't you understand

yes Kucinich... this is not just about another politician... it's about ending this fucking corruption from the top down.

why not use this opportunity... when hundreds, maybe thousands of residents are in the streets. these residents don't know there is a true choice, that we can end this bullshit by voting.

do the poor people that keep getting beaten and killed by the cops, do they read indymedia, they don't know that the Oregon Primary in May could have a MAJOR impact on our world.

Like you'd rather just keep on fighting the little battles, spinning your wheels.
So you protest and get Sery fired. Whoopee. Meanwhile the same police brutality will continue across the nation.

Now is the time to turn this local outrage into national action.

What would skull and boners bush and kerry and the New World Order want you to do?
they'd want you to riot in the streets everyday from now til the primary... rather than getting the vote out to change the world... you'd just be wasting your time protesting this one isolated incident.

I think it'd be wise to use this opportunity, educate the outraged citizens who normally stay inside and get all their info from the tv. Bring info they haven't seen on tv, educate while you march and protest... bring forms and get these folks registered Democrat and lets get 100% turnout from this pissed off crowd.

of course, its about kucinich 31.Mar.2004 13:17

xyz

yes, the portland cops are shooting motorists to divert attention from dennis kucinich. Sure, it just makes so much sense...

Kerry has already won the nomination, mathmatically speaking. My prediction: DK pulls down a whopping 15 to 20 percent in a two-way race of marginal importance, and his detatched from reality supporters hail it as some kind of wake-up call to the "powers that be."

An aside - not all DK supporters are detatched from reality. However, those here at PDX indymedia who regard him as some kind of messiah certainly seem to be.

To the kucinich person 31.Mar.2004 15:54

not about u

I understand police state just fine, thank you. I live in one. I live in fear of being shot by pigs for some minor traffic infraction, I live with their boots in my back every time I dare to dissent. I've been beaten by them, pepper sprayed by them, threatened by them, harassed by them. I know many of them by name and badge number. Yes, I know the police state. And that's what this thread is about, not Kucinich. You do yourself and your cause a disservice to be trotting this out here. This is not about electoral politics, and if you think it is, then it is you who fails to understand what a police state really is.

PLease stop distracting from the real issue at hand. Any more of this and I will realize you're simply spamming.

lack of experience 31.Mar.2004 19:46

Michael J

a few comments regarding police power:

I beleive all or most of the police problems are because of LACK OF EXPERIENCE!
When is the last time you saw an officer graying in his temples involved in any
serious misconduct? Rarely, if ever. The law breakers are generally young men,
charged with testosterone, who have something to prove. Frankly, the times I've
been stopped by a cop, the older, more experienced officer has been professional,
and firm, but fair. The young bucks are often nothing more than little smart-asses.

I was once in a profession (electronics engr) where
to attain the position I was seeking, the mandatory experience was eight years
before I would even be considered for a top position. I find it interesting
that police officers can be on the street making life or death decisions after
as little as perhaps 18 months in the academy. RIDICULOUS!!!

By the way, in case anyone reading didn't know, Portland Police officers
ARE NOT required to submit to random drug tests. It was considered once,
but the police union went ballistic. Why on earth these individuals that make
these snap life-or-death decisons, and have the power to take away OUR liberty
are not subject to drug testing.


P.S. TOM POTTER was a FINE police chief and would make an excellent Mayor!
Read up about him before you decide.

Good essay 31.Mar.2004 22:18

Dio

You did a fine job, Catwoman.

Ageist Comment 01.Apr.2004 06:49

to "Michael J"

When was the last time I saw an officer with graying temples involved in any serious misconduct? Welllll, lesseee. There's Marty Rowley, who is well known for his hair trigger on the pepper spray cannister. I've seen him unleash volumes of chemical weapons on, for example, a diminutive woman holding nothing more than a camera. I've seen him harassing and abusing american citizens who were not committing any illegal act with alarming frequency.

That's Marty Rowley, Badge Number 8969.

And then there's Lee, who -- if he had hair -- would surely be graying. He likes his trusty pepper spray cannister a little too much too.

Meyers, who has such lovely hair, would surely be going gray by now if not for the surfer dude treatments he takes. He once sprayed a 12 year old girl.

Oh, the list goes on and on. My favorite, though, even if he's not from PDX, is Timoney from Miami. Read up, it's quite a story.

This is not an issue of age, it's an issue of power, control, fear, racism and corruption. But not age. I'm surprised at the assumption. There's a lot of ageism out there, as well as a lot here on this site. I often come across comments on this site that inaccurately misjudge, prejudge or deride either older people or young people. Either way, it really stinks. Don't blame youth for this crime, blame Officer Sery and the PPB.

It's the System not the Cops 01.Apr.2004 09:13

Zendik

Do you guys pay taxes? Then you pay for the atrocities, that simple. Cops have a job to do and they are given rules that they try and follow if we don't like them then it's up to us to change the laws, right...
We sit around and build cob benches in neighborhoods and eat organically while paying taxes and being part of this Death Culture bitching when things like this happen. Then we go out and protest breaking windows and blocking traffic, feeding into the bad rap that the conservatives thrive on. What do you really expect?

I figured Meyers was an 01.Apr.2004 09:34

asshole

but I didn't realize he'd peppersprayed a 12-year old?
Only a real asshole motherf#%&r would do that sort of thing!
If he "gets it" someday, I won't cry a tear for him...no way!

on taxes, the system, and cops 01.Apr.2004 09:35

to zendik

It's the cops AND the system. It's all of us, you're right. We create a society in which people crave power over other people, in which armed thugs are allowed to kill and maim poor and black people.

I don't like the snide barb at people building cob benches and eating organic, though. The community building that's going on in this city, including the actions you describe, goes a long way toward creating something new.

I'd also like to say a word in favor of (YIKES!) taxes. Kind of. Yes, taxes suck when used to pay for wars, police goons, and the oppressive state. Yes, if you're poor and working to build a better world, and you can figure out a way to avoid it, don't pay your taxes. But taxes are also the one and only means in our entire society for forcing rich people to shoulder some small piece of the burden of society.

Taxes don't just pay for bullets. They also pay for shelters, medical programs, mental health services, housing, food, and all manner of services to people who can't otherwise afford to pay for those services. Until we can build and provide these things for ourselves within our new communities (that, perhaps, we will cob), we shouldn't be too quick to make strange bedfellows with the conservative forces trying to do away with taxation.

The rich are parasites, living off our labor and our resources. And they do not want to share. THAT's why they hate taxes. All the laws of society are geared to protect and coddle them, because they write the laws. Tax loopholes tend to favor them as well, leading to abuses like Enron not paying any taxes at all. All these things are true. But recognize that most of the anti-tax rhetoric you hear is geared toward making this situation even worse. It's the Bill Sizemores, the Bill Caseys, the Bush squad, the PBA all whining about tax burden and needing tax breaks. Don't join them. Any time taxes are reduced, ever, it's the rich who benefit and the poor who pay.