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Reign of Terror

City officials are unable to reassure us that they can stop the police from killing again.

I apologize for the length, but I have to say all this before it strangles me.
The city is in flames. We can all feel them, just below the surface, licking up from the depths of outrage brought on by yet another senseless police killing. It's been nearly a month since Jason Sery pulled out a loaded gun to "assist" him in a "routine" traffic stop. Nearly a month since he pulled that trigger, cut down another unarmed person of color. It's been a week since he received an award for his "outstanding" service. And only a day since another grand jury allowed another murderer in police uniform to walk free.

I am not calm, so these words might not flow as smoothly as I would like. But I need to say them anyway.

I was sick to my soul to learn of the award granted to Mr. Sery. Sick to my soul. This morning, I began calling "officials" throughout the city. Not because I believed they would have any answers. Not because I thought it would matter if I told them what I think about all this. But because I wanted to know what they would say. What could they possibly, possibly say that could justify the seige this city has been under? Even in their own minds, how could they possibly find the words to try?

It's been an interesting odyssey into the darkness of the human mind. Everyone passes the award off as something unconnected to the PPB. Everyone says it was the American Legion, that the PPB had nothing to do with it. Ah, but they did. They nominated him. They nominated Mr. Sery for this award. A spokesperson for the Mayor (who is, as always, unavailable) reminded me that the nomination was made before the shooting. Asked whether she thought he would have been considered after the shooting, she said, "Logically speaking, I wouldn't think so."

Logically speaking, indeed. But these are not logical times. And this isn't the first time Mr. Sery was involved in an incident like this. Twice now he's had evidence thrown out by a judge because his gung-ho disregard for civil rights rendered his illegal searches inadmissable in court. He has a frightening history of violence, of abuse of his perceived authority, of attacking people of color in the streets. He committed numerous such offenses before even being hired to rough up the streets of Portland. And yet, he was nominated by his superior officers for the top cop award. What does that say about the rest of them?

Asked whether she was aware of the simmering outrage rising in the streets, the mayor's spokesperson replied, "Absolutely." She went on to explain that the Mayor's office is doing what it can to make things right. Specifically, she told me, they are working to implement the recommendations outlined in the PARC report, which was presented to the city last august. (This report, it may be remembered, was an audit on the PPB called for after the last string of police killings. Interestingly, the report failed to consider any of the most recent incidents, concentrating only on the period between 1997 and 2000. This was after Deonte Keller was shot by police in 1996, and before Jose Mejia Poot, Kendra James, Eddie Homsombath, Byron Hammick, or Jahar Perez. For more on the weaknesses of this audit, see www.portlandcopwatch.org/shootingsanalysis.html.)

According to the Mayor's office, there were 44 recommendations made in this report, and "30 something" have been implemented. (In fact, there were 89 recommendations listed in the PARC report.) When I asked for concrete examples of what the mayor will do to stop police violence against the people of this city, she told me they're working on it but, "It takes money." Yes, the appeal to the budget. None of this would be happening if the people of this city would just give them more money. What would they do with this money, I asked. "Well for example," she replied, "The mayor is asking for money to hire more police officers."

...MORE police officers? Yes, more police officers. "...to...to...reassure the public," she added. I told her I didn't find that very reassuring, since the cops we have are shooting us down in the streets. Even she was unable to follow the strained logic any further, so she simply trailed off and referred me to the DA's office. Basically, the mayor's office is unwilling or unable to deal with the rogue police force or the concerns of the community in this matter.

I spoke to the people at Central Precinct this morning as well. Speaking to the PPB is always a trip. While I asked for the Chief's office, I was shunted around between "underlings" for awhile. I spoke to an intern who claimed he knows nothing about this, and finally to Sergeant Cheryl Robinson, Public Information Officer (PIO).

Sergeant Robinson said that she, too, is aware of the anger and the outrage that the police violence has sparked in this city. But she was as unconcerned as the mayor's office about the sensibility of allowing the officer involved to accept the award given to him. She, too, reminded me that he was nominated a few months back, and she added, "He had a life prior to this incident."

Indeed. So did Jahar Perez.

Before I called her, I had taken the time to look over the PARC report. Although lacking in depth and failing to cover any of the killings of the past 4 years, it was nevertheless an interesting read. So I mentioned it to Sergeant Robinson while I had her on the phone. Couldn't this tragedy have been prevented, I asked, if the recommendations outlined in the PARC report had been followed?

Sergeant Robinson vehemently disagreed. She told me the PARC report "didn't deal with tactics," that it "primarily dealt with investigative procedures." For example, she said, it recommended revising certain administrative procedures, among other things. "Nothing at all on tactics?" I asked.

As I happened to have a copy of the report sitting in front of me, I referred her to recommendation 3.5 which states, "The PPB should revise its deadly force policy to clearly articulate when officers may draw or point their firearms and when they should re-holster them." Doesn't that refer to tactics? Officer Robinson cleared her throat and stated that this recommendation is "Still in review."

What about recommendation 3.4? It says, "The PPB should consider whether it would be appropriate to revise its deadly force policy to expressly require officers to refrain from taking actions that unnecessarily lead to the use of deadly force." When confronted with this recommendation, Officer Robisnon responded, "That one is also still in the process of being reviewed." Wouldn't that recommendation, if followed, have prevented the murder of Jahar Perez? Incredibly, Officer Robinson stated, "It only says we should 'consider' it, not that we should do it."

I found several other recommendations that, if followed, could have prevented this killing. Each time I pointed one out, Officer Robinson told me it had not yet been implemented, it was "still in review," or that it's "in the process of being looked at." It seems to me that the recommendations dealing specifically with police use of deadly force should have been the very first to be implemented. Apparently, none of them were. Could not the administrative issues have waited? Wouldn't Jahar Perez still be alive if they had simply followed the more important, "tactical" recommendations first?

Officer Robinson said it was only speculation that it might have made a difference. And, as she repeatedly told me, she refused to speculate.
She then told me that, "Nobody in the bureau wants to take another life."
Pardon me, Officer Robinson, but that sounds like pure speculation to me.

Both the PPB and the Mayor's office issued statements that the grand jury was "only the beginning" of the process, both assured me that everything will be fine if we just "allow the system to work." Both pointed out that there is still a public inquest and an internal investigation into the matter. But when asked whether Mr. Sery will face any charges, Officer Robinson conceded that he will not, that he was cleared by the grand jury. The inquest, then, is nothing more than window dressing. It will have no teeth. There will be no justice, just as there was no justice for Deonte Keller, no justice for Kendra James, no justice for Amadu Diallo, no justice for anyone brutalized by the police.

The system won't work. It doesn't work. It's not even designed to work. It's only there to appease us while it grinds us down. As I said at the beginning of this long article, I am not calm and my words might be shaky. But I don't feel like choosing them carefully anymore. Even the "authorities" are making no sense now, and not even pretending anymore that any of this makes sense. The illusion is gone, only the sharp instruments of our oppression are visible now.

Protect yourselves, my comrades. I've got your back, do you have mine?
PARC 23.Apr.2004 17:22

addendum

The PARC report can be found in its entirety at www.parc.info. It's a chilling read.

A footnote to Officer Robinson 23.Apr.2004 17:35

CatWoman

Yes, you guessed right.

(After I began pointing out discrepancies between what she said about the PARC report and the actual report, Officer Robinson began to suspect that I might be (gasp!) a member of the real media. I'm sure she's been waiting with baited breath for this article to appear.)

(Greetings from the "radical element.")

More police? 23.Apr.2004 17:41

Vic

{ "...MORE police officers? Yes, more police officers....to...to...reassure the public," she added. I told her I didn't find that very reassuring, since the cops we have are shooting us down in the streets.}

Maybe she was thinking about the gang shootings problem which I think is reasonable considering it is a worse problem.

and another thing... 23.Apr.2004 18:18

I'm SO SICK OF THIS

I'm imagining a scenerio here. Join me. If I were a black person, and a cop pulled me over, I think I would not stop. And if they made me stop, I might be tempted to shoot the fucker the second he stuck his fat ass out of the car. Why? Because those fuckers are KILLING PEOPLE.

If I'm ever called to be on a jury where a person of color is charged with killing a cop, I will find them not guilty because I will consider it to have been self defese.

different police...not more police 23.Apr.2004 19:30

el roy

We need to treat the Portland police like cancer; from the inside out.

Yet another thing 23.Apr.2004 21:58

Radical Element

Everyone is a criminal these days who isn't wearing a uniform. Because those who wear them make the rules, and they have labeled us all.

And no, we don't stand to be called to a grand jury, because they are rigged.

But remember, officer. There are many, many, many more of us out here than there are of you. And we're pissed. Watch your backs.

Excellent article 23.Apr.2004 22:01

Jones

Your research and writing are exactly what indymedia needs. One trouble with IM is a great piece like this stays in the shadows, unseen by too many people who would, if they could, care and respond.

May I suggest when you can, polish it up a bit and submit it to the local newspapers? I have been surprised what you can find in the Portland Tribune at times. They may make an editorial column of it where it can be read by 1000's more.

Again, good work. I would like to see a lot more pieces like this, instead of empty rants. You put some real effort into it and it shows. More work like yours and IM will move from alternative media to prime media (which it already is for me, to a large extent).

"Fuck the culture ..." 23.Apr.2004 22:16

Dio

"Fuck the culture that would throw us to them without allowing us to defend ourselves." -- CatWoman


Time to figure out how they do that, don't you think?
And to figure out how they train you to let them.

Also, how they keep our thinking so confused, that we consistently mistake the nicest activity two humans can undertake together with the un-nicest.

Interesting 23.Apr.2004 22:26

Radical Element Too

"The PPB should revise its deadly force policy to clearly articulate when officers may draw or point their firearms and when they should re-holster them."

Did anyone else see the officer at Columbia Annex Park draw her gun on August 21st at the bush protest? The police were moving in on a crowd of demonstrators who were standing in the park and on the sidewalk. (AFTER they had been ordered to go there by the police themselves.) The police began hollering at people to "MOVE! MOVE! MOVE!"

Facing no personal threat whatsoever, she reached down and yanked at her gun in its holster and brandishing it at the crowd. Didn't see it? It was easy to miss in all the action. Happily, the PDX indy video collective got it all on film. You can see it all in slow motion in the video "A Million Dollars Later," which can be downloaded for free from the video page on this site. (Just go back to the home page and click on the "Video" button in the left side of the screen.)

These pigs ARE out of control, and there are mountains of evidence to prove it. We know it now, now we must do something about it. See you on the streets tomorrow at noon.

Catwoman 23.Apr.2004 22:47

George Bender

Excellent article, eloquent, thanks for writing it.

As for the police only killing criminals, as someone wrote above, our laws do not make using cocaine a capital crime, and a police officer is not supposed to be judge, jury and executioner. When they are, you're living in a police state.


well written 23.Apr.2004 22:47

me

this should be main paged i think

Lord... 23.Apr.2004 23:12

Seattle

Guys, the 206 is paralyzed. Our IMC is dead. Protests full of old hippies who, god love 'em, turn out every time and really mean it. I've got no beef with hippies, but where the fuck are the young people in this city? Cops here always trying to be something other than a store guard with a license to kill. There's no flowers down the barrels of these shotguns.

It's not just you. It's not just us. It's both of us, and more besides. DC. So.Cal. Humboldt. Philly. It's going to get worse. For all of us.

REAL 4-LETTER WORD 23.Apr.2004 23:50

Iyanna & Da Sistas of The Revolution

KILL is the REAL 4-letter word. Great piece catwoman!

To Seattle 24.Apr.2004 07:27

Radical Element

"I've got no beef with hippies, but where the fuck are the young people in this city?"

You mean, "Where the fuck are the revolutionaries," don't you? Because not all hippies are old, and not all revolutionaries are young. Too much ageism. It bugs me, cuz some of the most radical and thoughtful people I know are older people. Also, someday, we're gonna be older people, and it's gonna be a lot easier for us if we rise above our ageism now, and make room at the table for the people we will become.

Having said that, I understand the spirit though. Lots of hippie marches here as well (of all ages). It takes us all, though. They'll march around and appeal to those who are so brainwashed they think having a spine is violence, and the rest of us do what we do and together we drag the world along.

Side Note 24.Apr.2004 07:47

CatWoman

Interestingly, both the mayor's office and the PIO told me that they needed more money, that part of the problem was the fact that the budget just isn't big enough to address the problems at hand. In other words, this is OUR fault, for not funding them properly. (The mayor's office said they need more police officers, and the PIO noted that the PARC report called for helicopters and gee, that's just not in the budget yet.)

However, the most vital recommendations in the entire report (3.4 and 3.5) would have cost no money at all to implement. And, they would have saved a life.

Regarding helicopters 24.Apr.2004 12:17

Catalina Eddie

Having lived in L.A. much of my life, I wanna assure everyone that police helicopters are noisy, intrusive, and worthless for anything but opressing citizenry.

Tell your rulers Portland don't need no fuckin air force!

Vancouver

In the "real media" -- 24.Apr.2004 14:22

guffman

-- this moving combination of solid reporting and advocacy would be anathema. A reporter covering city officials is typically expected to maintain scrupulously the illusion of "objectivity." It's necessary to maintain your sources, if nothing else. Something like this piece we used to call "back-of-the-notebook stuff" when I was a cub reporter, back when reporters used notebooks.

It's wasted here, where CatWoman is preaching to the choir. Very heavy stuff. No solutions, but a heartbreaking black-and-white close-up of the problem. Kudos.

A21 female - Gresham PD Officer Wray 24.Apr.2004 16:30

PPBCopwatcher PPBCopwatcher@yahoo.com

Officer Wray from Gresham PD was the officer who ATTEMPTED to pull her gun at Columbia Park on A21. She did NOT actually draw her gun (nor did she "brandish" it at anybody).

In fact, she wasn't able to get her gun out of her holster!!! Pathetic, but I guess we should be grateful for her ineptness.

 PPBCopwatcher@yahoo.com
 PPBCopwatcher@hotmail.com

Was it a PPB™ Gang Killing? 25.Apr.2004 02:52

Hawkeye

It becomes more apparent that the reason for "getting" James Jahar Perez--for getting him pulled over and to get at him--was to kill him.

I submit that it is plausible that Jason Sery had a reason for wanting to "eliminate" Perez, and was following him, waiting for an excuse to confront him--failure to make a turn signal, which is so frequently and continuously done throughout the city that it can only be seen as a point of triviality, providing an excuse for Sery to perform some other "task" which was on his mind.

Do we hear anything about Perez's failure to signal having caused an accident or near accident? Do we hear anything about a pedestrian nearly run down because of that failure to signal? No. It appears that this was an excuse to confront Perez on another matter.

That Perez was executed less than a half minute after Sery and Macomber stopped--a "decent" interval, in effect--doesn't support the contention that he was being confronted on a matter of failing to signal a turn. That he wasn't armed and didn't display a wallet, or something, that was "mistaken for a weapon", as was the case in the unfortunate 1999 firing squad execution of Amadou Diallo by a NY police gang out for a night of "wilding", makes it hard to avoid the appearance that Perez's killing was done by Sery willfully and for some purpose.

Phony excuse for stopping. No turn signal made, but no apparent immediate safety consequence by failing to do so. Multiple shots fired at a seated, seat belted victim at close range less than a half minute after the stop. No weapon in possession or display of something that looked like a weapon by the victim. No witness that the victim was "berserk" or "coming at" the mercs.

Why did Jason Sery want to kill James Jahar Perez. Did Perez know something about Sery? Had Perez "insulted" Sery at some time past?

This is beginning to look like another gang killing.

Good point, Hawkeye 25.Apr.2004 16:17

Radical Element

Now that you mention it, I can't think of any other explanation for why that nazi would have his gun drawn and ready to kill in the midst of a routine traffic stop, and why he would pull that trigger 24 seconds later. The cops are out of control.

Hawkeye 25.Apr.2004 17:53

Catalina Eddie

I was thinking the same thing, then thought "don't be so paranoid". I'm glad this occurs to others. The lies really start to wear y'down after a while. Don't they?

Vancouver

Why Would PPB™ Gang Want To Eliminate James Jahar Perez? 25.Apr.2004 20:23

Hawkeye

My analysis doesn't go to certainty.

The point by point unfolding of the events, the timing, don't add up to even a "routine traffic stop." I'll give that it appears to be that, but the zeal and speed with which James Jahar Perez was executed (there is no plausible claim for self-defense, feeling of "threat" or "thought I saw a weapon" even forthcoming, from heaven-sent witness accounts) adds up to the appearance of premeditation.

The thing that got accomplished, with certainty, was that Perez wasn't going to be alive when it was over: multiple shots at close range with no threat presented that might call for self defense. What does that sound like?

I think the multiple witnessing was something that Sery's on-the-fly story couldn't compete with. If there hadn't been the volume and diversity of witnessing, and Sery was able to just run the usual free pass--"I thought I saw a weapon and felt threatened"--the grand jury would likely have delivered a more confident finding for probable cause that resulted in Perez's superjudicial execution. (The PPB's™ PR campaign fed to the corporate whore media went to great lengths to castigate the victim, attempting to spread after-the-fact-justification that Perez deserved execution, since his blood chemistry was "illegal." This looks like an attempt to do damage control on a piece of PPB™ gang business that went awry.)

The "routine traffic stop" for failure to signal a turn-so flimsly as a matter of urgency in the overall pattern of vehicular activity in the city-becomes an excuse to get Perez cornered with plausible justification: "routine traffic stop." From there, the case for the use of deadly force isn't so well made, as if the first step--getting an excuse to get Perez cornered--was an opportunity seized, in order to take care of some specially ordered "unfinished" business and in his zeal to take advantage of the chance, Jason Sery didn't look beyond that key piece of his plan, figuring that he could finesse something--just say that he "felt threatened" (we know how that has been the free pass for virtually every faulty use of police deadly force) that would get him off.

Even in this preposterous instance where the victim Perez was seated, seat-belted, brandishing neither a weapon nor anything that might be "mistaken" for one, wasn't "menacing" Sery (by valuable witness accounts), seem to correspond with the emerging personality/fitness profile for Sery--he's not the brightest bulb on the marquee. Possibly the initial ploy was to get Perez cornered under some reasonable excuse--"routine traffic stop" and Sery lept at the chance, not thinking too far ahead, except he knew what "needed to be done" with Perez. Without a more developed reason for stopping Perez--that he nearly caused an accident by not signalling, for instance--the failure to signal looks like it could have presented an opportunity to take care of some other, more deadly, task.

Then Macomber, Sery's sidekick, proceeds to taze the corpse! Is that supposed to go toward some reordering of events in time--make it look like non-lethal means were tried before taking lethal measures? Did Macomber get the signals crossed? Was he supposed to taze Perez early on, but was too slow, and Sery--uncool head that he appears to be, fearing that the opportunity might escape, or just plain consumed by the need to "deal" with Perez--fires multiple shots *first*, rather than waiting for the, perhaps, conflicted Macomber to perform according to the "field plan" they might have cooked up a few moments earlier. Was Macomber a less than fully willing accomplice? Then does Macomber leave the taze control on for--what was it?-- three minutes, as if to get it impressed that non-lethal control of the "threatening subject" was tried first? The three minute tazer burst into a cadaver corresponds to the behavior of someone who is overwhelmingly trying to reverse an earlier mistake by overcompensating--literally "overkill".

All of this suggests, to me, that there was perhaps some baggage between Perez and Sery or maybe between Perez and a subgroup within the PPB™ mercenary gang, for whom Sery was doing service, in this case.

Tell it, Hawkeye 26.Apr.2004 10:49

RE

You have an interesting point. I think you might be onto something.

Thanks Catwoman 26.Apr.2004 10:56

#*!

Good article.

I have a gun and a concealed weapons permit - if the police ever stop me in my car or come knocking on my door I am going to shoot them to protect myself. With the history of this department I have good reason to believe they will shoot me. My life is in danger when the police come near me - I know this because the police have guns and I know they use them indiscriminately. It is quite clear that the system will not protect me so I must do what I must to stay alive. I am justified in protecting myself. So I, like a police officer, am justified in shooting when I reasonably feel my life is endangered.

I am also going to carry my gun where ever I go. If I feel threatened by a police officer I will shoot - I have the right to protect myself. If I see someone who is threatened by a police officer I will shoot - I have the right to defend others who are in danger of being harmed.

I will not seek out police officers but if it is a choice between my life or theirs I am not just going to sit back and let them kill me. I will defend myself.

Change NOW 26.Apr.2004 11:10

.

Manyy of the changes do not require more money or more officers.

The killer cops need to be tried and fired.

The other bad cops need to be fired.

The police union must lose it's strangehold on the department.

The chief should be someone with balls not a house nigger.

The DA must be replaced with an honest person who will prosecute these murderers.

The people must demand the reforms or it will never happen.

what the PUBLIC should do to bad cops that murder citizens 28.Apr.2004 08:53

1 that defended against cops and live to tell about it

I read everything i could regarding the string of cops in the portland area getting away with murder.It's time for citizens to WAKE-UP and realize,that marching and protesting will do NOTHING.If you want justice, make your OWN. Find the bad COPS and those that have committed these murders of citizens, make them say GOODBYE TO OXYGEN. this will send a message to the other cops that the citizens have had enough.it's the same ole Politics.Cops murder people, and if there is a trial,(if a grand jury does'nt clear them) they get a slap on the wrist, and that's all.If a citizen does something to a cop, self-defence or not,The corrupt system will throw the book at the citizen to send a message. WAKE UP PEOPLE OF PORTLAND.They can dish it out why don't you guys in portland see if thay can take it???

GET RESPECT BY FIGHTING BACK 29.Apr.2004 11:30

1 that defended against cops, and lived to tell about it

To CATWOMAN great article.I'ts good that you wrote this article to give readers a view of how politics and corruption work hand in hand.
It seems that when a cop does something wrong(like murder an un-armed citizen),the police cover for they're own,and DA's refuse to anything.
This action,leaves a thought in the minds of the public that, cops can kill and get away with it.(and in most case's often do ).20yrs ago i was faced with a life or death situation with cops that kicked the wrong door in.I WON, they LOST.to this day im not sorry about taking lives,and, would NOT Hesitate to do it again
P.S I never spent a day in Jail for defending my self

Tear down the wall 29.Aug.2004 13:46

Dirty Harry info@beggarz.com

Re : "Time to figure out how they do that, don't you think?
And to figure out how they train you to let them.

Also, how they keep our thinking so confused, that we consistently mistake the nicest activity two humans can undertake together with the un-nicest."

There's the key, I think - and it's roots run deep. Sometimes I wonder if people if realize what they are doing - they are trained to be in control, and are programmed with all these Victorian / medieval values and primal fears. It's the church still using the most vulnerable areas of our psyche for personal control, and it continues to this day in a miriad of ways.

I mean, think about it - the priests are raping your children - is it any surprise all this other shit is going on?