Driving While Black: Punishable by death
by: Little Beirut Staff
The vigilantes of the PPD have once again murdered an unarmed person of color on the streets of Portland. Less than a year after the brutal murder of Kendra James, Portland Police officers Jason Sery and Sean Macomber performed an execution style killing on James Jahar Akbar Perez, 28 of North Portland. According to Portland Police and witnesses, the officers pulled Perez over for failure to signal within 100 feet of making a turn. Perez turned into a laundry matt parking lot off of North Fessenden Street and rolled down his window. Sery stepped out of the squad car with his gun already drawn. One of the officers asked for Perez's license. Perez had no license and no identification on him at the time and made the officers aware of the situation. Officer Macomber proceeded to slam open the car door and begin groping for Perez's shoulder, attempting to remove him from the vehicle. It has yet to be fully reported what happened next but witnesses at nearby shops saw Macomber step back as Sery dropped into a crouch and fired three shots into Perez's torso. The two officers then rushed the now lifeless body and proceeded to tazer him for a full three minutes. It was 24 seconds between the time the officers radioed in the stop to the time Sery opened fire on Perez. After literally hours of vehicle inspection it was determined that James Jahar Perez was unarmed at the time of his slaughter, still strapped in his car by his seatbelt.
James Jahar Perez is the third African American young person to be executed by the Portland Police in 25 months. He is the fifth person of color to be killed in an "officer involved" shooting in 30 months. In all situations, the pigs involved in these cold-blooded and racially driven murders received rather symbolic slaps on the wrist from the powers that be. After the murder of Kendra James last May, Scott McCollister was suspended from duty for 51/2 months, with the police union kicking and screaming in protest the entire time. McCollister, who shot the unarmed James during another PPD "routine traffic stop" is now back on the streets with a loaded gun. Then of course there are the killers of Jose Mejia Poot, the 29-year-old Mexican national murdered by the pigs in a mental hospital. Three Portland Police officers executed him after he had a seizure and was unable to convey his situation to the officers in English. So they shot him. And then Vera Katz awarded them with a medal of honor.
The best way the Portland mainstream press knows to deal with these shootings is to turn the blame from the murderer and to pin the spotlight (so to speak) on the victim. After all of these shootings, the Oregonian, Portland Tribune and various news stations began to release the legal history of the deceased. After a sentence or two reviewing the murder these media outlets typically go on to spend a paragraph reviewing past legal trouble, in some cases digging as far back as 8 years to find some reason that would justify the murder of an unarmed person. These smear tactics are precisely the tool needed to further villinize victims of color in police related shootings. Scared and ignorant white folks can safely sit back over their morning papers, shaking their heads and clucking their teeth. "Well, he was unarmed but he did get into some trouble with the cops seven or eight years ago. Those officers must have been afraid for their very lives!" The fact of the matter is, these people were not killed because the police were scared for their lives. People cannot legally be pulled over because of situations they have been involved in in the past. Teenage trouble with the police and past drug possession is not a crime punishable by death, unless you are young and a person of color. These people were murdered because state sanctioned racism and extreme jock hole masculinity runs the Portland Police force and city hall. These people were murdered because white police officers that are terrified of communities of color are sent to these communities with loaded weapons. These people were murdered because the City of Portland and the Portland Police Department have no way in which to be held accountable for their actions. Our city is run by a rogue police department and an apathetic mayor. Throw in a dash of gentrification, a pinch of unemployment and poorly funded schools and services, a cup of white supremacy and walah! You have North and Northeast Portland's recipe for disaster.
Portland does not know where to go from here. Tactical differences on how to handle the out of control police department have divided members of the Portland community. Many of Portland's youth, terrified that they may be next seem to opting for a more militant community response. Faith communities continue to advocate the turn the other cheek ideal that obviously served so well after the Kendra James murder. Many more of us are split on what we think would be the best way to handle to the situation. Militant tactics will lead to more police violence and repercussions, particularly on people and communities of color. Obviously, however the turn the other cheek plan hasn't done shit to stop this tax funded racist nazi crackhunt. Already the Portland Police Association has fully back Jason Sery and Sery himself has employed a lawyer to stop the community called for injunction. Chances are the pigs are going to get away with this again. It is our responsibility to participate with our community on whatever level to hold the pigs accountable. We are running out of time. When and where will they gun down the next member of our community?
The newest issue of Little Beirut hits the streets on tuesday or check it out online at http://www.littlebeirut.com
There will be a Little Beirut Release Party and May Day kick off this friday April 30th at the back to back cafe and IWW Hall (616 e burnside) with bands and djs to be announced.