September 17, 2009
To The Citizens of Portland,
On September 17, 2006, two Portland police officers and one Multnomah County deputy targeted and brutally murdered James Chasse, Jr., a man living with schizophrenia, for "acting bizarre." As a result of Chasses' death, the city has made notable effort to help police better understand mental illness and crisis intervention. It should be noted though that at the time of his death James Chasse was not in crisis, nor had he committed any crime. After Chasse died in police custody of internal injuries including 16 broken ribs and massive internal bleeding from kicks and punches to the face, head and body, then Mayor Tom Potter and current Police Chief Rosie Sizer diverted the public's attention from gruesome police brutality towards a scapegoat, under-funded mental health system.
Now, three years later, it has been revealed through court documents that the police involved in the killing lied to the District Attorney, therefore getting them off the hook for criminal prosecution. To this day, the Portland Police Bureau has not released the internal investigation that would allow Portland citizens to know and understood what happened the day James Chasse died and allow for some accountability. Until this document becomes public, the community is not able to have closure. Until this document is released, there can be no punishment for what happened. All three of the officers involved in Chasse' death are still working for the Portland Police Bureau as patrol officers. No one has been held accountable and the community does not feel safe.
On this, the third anniversary of James Chasses' murder, the Dorothy Day Portland Catholic Worker cries out:
*We stand in complete solidarity with the Chasse family as they fight for justice through the legal system.
*We demand that Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who over sees the Police Bureau, and the entire City Council answer to their constituents and release the internal investigation immediately.
*We demand the immediate removal of Officers Christopher Humphreys, Kyle Nice and Bret Barton from the PPB.
It is unacceptable that the citizens of Portland have been waiting three years, and are still waiting, for some closure in the death of James Chasse, Jr. We have the right to feel safe in our communities and to know that the police work to keep our communities safe for ALL citizens. And when they do not do this, and instead act in a way that shames our city and makes us afraid to call for help, we have the right to demand justice, transparency, and accountability in a timely matter.
In Hope & Struggle,
The Dorothy Day Portland Catholic Worker