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Review of Saturday's March For Justice and Police Accountability

A look back at the organizing and day of this contreversial event.
The march on saturday began a campaign by Arissa and its allies to accomplish two goals:
1) To demand that Jason Sery be subject to due process, and face trial for murder in a criminal court.
2) To demand that a citizen review board be created that is directly representative of the people in Portland, and that has independent disciplinary power over the police.

The event itself had many pros and many cons, some of which I intend to talk about here.

OUTREACH STRATEGY

Before the march, Arissa and some allies created a large outreach campaign to both create a dialog about the issue of police murder and state reperession, and to promote this specific event. All in all, Arissa and allies put up approximately 5,000 posters; we handed out 700+ quarter-sheet fliers; sent out 5,000 pieces of bulk mail; and placed an ad in the Willamette Weekly.

Primarily, we hung posters in N and NE and all along E 82nd, and we hung several hundred in SE. Quarter sheets were passed out at highschools,PSU, PCC, danceclubs,cafes,on the street, and other police accountability events. The Willamette Week ad probably reached people in SE and SW the most, because that is where its distribution is the largest.

We are slowly but surely creating alliances with other organizations who are organizing around the issue of police accountability. For the march, we made contact with five other organizations who we thought might share common cause in this issue, to see if they were interested in collaborating on the march. No organizations got involved on that level, although many individuals, some from a couple of the organizations that we contacted, did.

THE MARCH

About 200 people showed up at noon, at Pioneer square. To be accurate, that's 200 protesters- there were at least 100 cops in the immediate vicinity. There were armored cop-carrier cars driving around downtown, and many bike-cops present.
There were three speakers, and the MC. The speakers were Ruth, from the Justice for Mumia Coalition; Alton, from the October 22nd Coalition (Seattle); and Michael, from Arissa.

The march headed out of the square and we were quickly made aware that the police would not let us walk on the street. There was some shoving by the cops, and yelling by the protesters. We decided that we would march on the sidewalk. Some people have criticized the fact that we did not take the street for this march. The reason that we decided to stay on the sidewalk is that the main focus of the march was to bring people's concerns to the mayor's house, and we realized that the police would not let us that far if we were to focus on direct confrontation with them for the street. We did not want to sacrifice an opportunity that might further the campaign, for one particular confrontation.

The police were very vigilant in upholding the crosswalk statutes. The police themselves were blocking the streets, but they still would not let us cross any streets until the hand stopped flashing. Mike D was arrested for "jaywalking", although accounts differ as to whether or not he actually did. In any case, the police were looking for excuse.

We made it to Katz's home on SW 21st, where there was an open mic/bullhorn. Vera heard us, loud and clear,so she called 911. Then the police began closing in and posturing for a mass action, and we had accomplished our day's task, so we headed back down to the square.

PROS and CONS

By the day of the march, the corporate media was hyping the event as the brainchild of "terrorists"; that we were bent on having a "violent" event, and that we had "no roots in the community", all of which are blatantly untrue. It's not above and beyond the corporate media to lie, however this information was not just being put out by the media- the police union inferred that we intended violence, and some activists followed suit.
All this seems like it was intended to create a good protester/bad protester dynamic, and squash any emerging solidarity between the two "sides".

We couldn't counter this tidal wave of hate. We were unprepared, without enough time or energy to do it. As a new organization, we do not have a reputation to refer to. So what we focused on was building a dialog with a few people who were spreading the idea that we were violent and rootless, to try to come to an understanding of eachother's positions, and to see where we could build alliances. We had some sucess. I learned a lot in the process, and I think others did too.

So the turnout on the day of the march was smaller than might have been expected. Probably due to how contentious our efforts had been made. But the event itself had some really good points: We went to the mayor's house. She was made aware of the fact that she's accountable to the people. We made it clear that we are dedicated to a campaign to achieve the two stated goals of the march- that we will contribute to building this effort until this state repression and murder is disallowed.We built some great alliances.

POST-MARCH

Since the march, Arissa has released two press releases- one asking the District Attorney to release the socio-economic and racial make-up of the grand jury that refused to indict Jason Sery of any wrongdoing;
and the other one condemning the public inquest as a "sick attempt at pacification", due to the fact that it has no power to hold Sery accountable for what he's done. We are dedicated to community systems of oversight, and the end of state repression.

Some people are saying that our work is inconsistant with our larger stated goals, or that we must be "capitalizing" off the sorrows of others (that's what a policeman told me when he arrested me for allegedly fliering). But cops fighting for white supremacy and classism are doing all the people a big dis-service, forcing people to be no more than pawns in the power system to be moved against eachother and used and exploited. Cops killing people out of unsubstantiated fear should not be tolerated by people of any race, ethnicity, or class. Killer cops are enforcing a system of genocide and slavery that's been ingrained in this society since before it was even a nation. Time and time again, people have realized that none of us are free until all of us are free. Now is no different.
Arissa believes that the political, social, and economic system needs to be fundamentally changed for a just society to exist. We believe that working to counter state opression and to create systems of community power is a positive step in that direction. We don't fool ourselves that our efforts will BE the totallity of such revolutionary change, or the totallity of the successful campaign to hold Sery and the PPD accountable for their actions. We want to contribute to this effort in the ways that we can, so we're building alliances with those who feel we have a common cause, to address the state repression that impacts all of our lives.

homepage: homepage: http://www.arissa.org

ARRISA's and other actions may be counterproductive 29.Apr.2004 13:55

Collective unity will produce better results nelson9119@earthlink.net

Some of ARRISA's actions are inconsistent with the values and needs of this community and can nullify the positive actions of others. Keep in mind that the corporate media is only interested the attracting advertisers with the inflated television ratings of blacks vs. police, guns & violence sensationalism. Sound reasoning and solutions are not ratings worthy so what is fed to the public is a parade of polarized, self serving individuals and or organizations spewing their compartmentalized agendas with fire & brimstone with no collective innovation, strategy or means to have a positive impact. It would appear that ARRISA has good intentions but I would challenge them to understand how some of their tactics could be counter productive. This is a sensitive family tragedy for some so please don't lose sight of that.

Demonizing and antagonizing the Portland Police Bureau and the Mayor with antagonistic tactics will serve no positive purpose. Trust me when I say that cooperation with the Police is a major part of the overall solution to the issue of crime and violence in the community.
So this 'taking it to the street' attitude exhibited by pseudo revolutionaries is immature, self indulgent and most important...totally ineffective. Learn from those that have gone before you. Understand how effective change has come about through well thought strategies, inclusion and a resolute commitment to results.
That being said the Portland Police must be held accountable for their wrongdoings. Killing unarmed citizens is not an option. We the people deserve better so we must demand better in the most effective way possible.

So preacherman please cool the fire & brimstone, extremist chill out, police get interested in doing more than covering your ass, and politicians set your agendas aside, Everyone please collectively listen to those at the heart of this tragedy. Commit yourselves to organizing cooperatively with one another and focus on long-term effective solutions and problem solving.

Peace & Guidance until...

Intent of the march 29.Apr.2004 14:04

you left something out

You leave out the fact that another intent of the march was to intimidate the mayor with political violence in as much that the co-founder, Craig Rosebraugh, of your group and pretty much the spokesperson calls for abandoning non-violent tactics and that we need to start targeting people. Arissa did't tell the people they were trying to get to go to the march this detail. Read the book "The Logic of Political Violence" by Craig Rosebraugh...if you don't have time to sit through all the propaganda skip to the conclusion and you can get an idea of what he is calling for to happen today in America.
And I also have to say that if you are buying into this idea of violent overthrow of the US government...and this is what Arissa is calling for...consider what hyprocricy lies in the fact that Craig is also catering to the bourgoise at his high end vegan restaurant on Hawthorne. Craig is a catitalist. Craig is talking the talk not having the commitment to walk the walk. Arissa says they intend on feeding the poor...while Craig is feeding the rich.
The point about the streets is that they could have been taken with no violence whatsoever if the organizers had the political smarts to do it right. The city wouldn't dare to pack up 200 or so people for attempting to have a march in the street. The jails are full the courts are packed and most of all it would have blown up the issue and made the city look like shit and that is what they are afraid of most. The politicians hide behind this mask of morality because they know that if the masses saw them for what they really are they would not be able to hold on to power. They would have given you the streets and blocked traffic to avoid damaging the moral standing. But instead of communicating a non-violent resistance to protect our civil rights and show our collective disapprovement of our government...the march stayed on the sidewalk and obeyed all the orange hands and white stick figures. It is easier to thow a brick and run or take a shot and hide than to stand up to the ugly face of authority and show no fear or obedience.
I would seriously consider not associating yourselves with this organization or lack there of. Take a look at what they are really about. It is all in black and white.

Onthe 29.Apr.2004 14:24

Mark

"Demonizing and antagonizing the Portland Police Bureau and the Mayor with antagonistic tactics will serve no positive purpose."

Actually, I believe it will. The danger is more that such tactics will not be followed through on. Such institutions will bend to a hard line, or at least negotiate more sincerely with moderates.

The Mayor is only interested in supporting business interests.

"Trust me when I say that cooperation with the Police is a major part of the overall solution to the issue of crime and violence in the community."

No, I do not trust you that this is sound policy. The police have the attitude of dominance and control. Cooperation comes from an equal position of power and the police refuse to work from an equal position of power. When they do, then there will be the chance of cooperation and I will also advocate taking it. Until then, what you call cooperation is merely capitulation.

The only reason I listen to cops, is because they have the gun, and can get away with using it. I do not respect them. I do not acknowledge their having any authority over me. They are abusive and bullying and I reject them as an institution. They are not welcome in my house. We need a different approach to protecting the community.

to: you left something out 29.Apr.2004 17:19

Jonah

You are dishonest and in my opinion attempting to spread disinfo.

I am not an Arissa supporter, but the crap you are writing is bullshit. They carried off a good event, had good speakers, and managed to get to Vera's house with her in it. Kudos for that.

Craig's book is very theoretical. It is basically a history book arguing that political violence is a necessary tool. Obviously Arissa spokespeople are not talking about picking up guns and shooting it out with the cops, and you can see from the campaign they have launched that they are taking action and there has been no violence.

It is so new, and does need to earn my support, but I am not going to listen to the drivel you are spouting without calling you on it.

Arissa 29.Apr.2004 17:45

Tyler Wells twells1@gladstone.uoregon.edu

You say that you "demand that a citizen review board be created that is directly representative of the people in Portland, and that has independent disciplinary power over the police."

I KNOW that the current IPR system does not work. What are some of specific changes that you would make to the system. Enlighten me.

A few more questions 29.Apr.2004 18:31

Not a medic

Dear Becca and Arissa,


First, let me distance myself from the first two comments. I think you deserve a dialogue, not a rant.

My questions are:
1. Who have you entered into an alliance with? Can you name any organizations or individuals? Particularly which organizations of people of color in Portland or which organizations that have been working on the issues of controlling the police. If any were represented at Saturday's march I did not see them.

2. Why target Katz? A lame duck mayor (and one who was recovering from surgery) who has given no indication that she will take any steps against the police, the police union or any individual officers. What about the District Attorney who has never asked a grand jury for charges to be filed? What about the City Council which has never challenged the police commissioner (who is also the mayor) in their dealings with the police department.

3. What is your stance on the inquest? What will be your stance on the civil suit that the Perez family will undoubtedly file? What about the forthcoming FBI investigation that the AMA folks are placing so much credence on. What will be your relationship with the Albina Ministerial Alliance's coalition? Do you intend to only hold separate (and relatively small) rallies?

4. Could you list the groups and individuals that you consider to be 'liberals'. Do you intend to work with these groups, attack them politically, boycott their demonstrations, etc.?

5. How do you intend to create the equivalent of a civilian review board or whatever you will call the group that would control the police? "By any means necessary" is a good catch-all phrase (and one that I agree with), but at some point maybe it needs spelling out.

6. What contact have you had with the Mejia family, the Perez family, the James family or any of the scores of families of victims of police abuse? Do you think it is necessary to actually do any work around the issues of police violence and accountability or will marches and protests and mailings be the form that your political work take?

7. Do you consider that allowing the march to be split into six different contingents at various stages on Saturday was maybe not the wisest way to protect people if the police did in fact attack?

I have other questions, but those would be a start. And yes, I can be contacted in person if you require a body to talk with.

Out of curiosity 29.Apr.2004 20:42

more liberal bullshit

Out of curiosity Alan, or whoever you are, why, if your intent was to truly learn the answers to these questions, did you not just contact the group directly? Why insist on continuing to do the usual and blow hot air publicly without just addressing the organization on a private basis? Except for attempting to slander the organization and individuals involved publicly, there is no reason to continue attempting to bring down an effort like this. You should be ashamed of yourself. In fact all those fucking couch sitting, back stabbing, shit-talking, cowards who continue to spread gossip, rumors, and myths about this organization might try actually doing something positive for those "issues" you claim to care so much about. Or is it just a lot easier to attempt to bring down others who are acting?