A check in on Portland's most recent police accountability panel at PCC.
The distinguished and respectable panel of concerned community members were there. Portland city council hopefuls were gleaning future votes there. Your future correctional officers and enforcers of the law were there. A very visible and unwelcoming entourage of troopers filing in and out of the proceedings were there (if they were invited, they had nothing to say)... and there may have been an anar-chist or three in the midst...
If you weren't there... you didn't miss much.
The program started off with a 20 min powerpoint that attempted to establish some commonality of definitions for key terms and laws (good job) while inadvertently subjecting the audience to a dumbed down criminal justice 101 class.
While some of the panelists may hold some more radical underpinnings, nothing new was brought to the table on this evening and it seemed to be more of a rehashing of what we already know. The dynamics were very different than the packed community forum last week at the comedy club in which meaningful and engaging conversation ensued.
Granted, tonight was a panel and granted this entails being talked at for two hours. Reform seemed to be the mantra of the evening... well intentioned words such as accountability, annual performance evaluations and de-escalation floated in around the room... This last lofty word was ironically uttered by Aaron Olsen, M.Ed., the billed criminal justice moderator of the event, over his booming headseat microphone before he attempted to silence a young radical, questioning the status quo, with the threat of arrest.
The format of the panel was not designed for meaningful engagement and left the audience (we were not treated like community) feeling disgruntled and unenlightened. Yes, we need reform. Yes, we need accountability but by quashing any form of interaction with the 'respected' community members and their respective community, the night really seemed like business as usual—that is, no love.