portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary portland metro

corporate dominance | police / legal

NEW NYC POLICE COMMISSIONER CRACKS DOWN ON SLUMLORDS AND ROGUE COPS 1895

In 1895, new New York City police commissioner Teddy Roosevelt, attacked both rogue cops and urban slumlords as soon as he got on the job, before seeking higher office or heading the Bull Moose ticket in 1912. In the TR bio, Theodore Roosevelt: A Strenuous Life, TR's urban reform actions contrast starkly with local NW police accountability and anti-slumlord (in)action by local government.
It is to the credit of Sam Adams that he both took back the police commissioner job from Dan Saltzman in May, 2010, and removed Rosie Sizer as Portland chief of police. However, it remains to be seen whether the new chief, Mike Reece, or Adams himself now being police commissioner, will translate into real change vis-a-vis right wing police politics (the 800-cop t-shirt march with signs saying "I am Chris Humphreys") and rogue cops like Kyle Nice, Chris Humphries and others still on the force.

When Teddy Roosevelt took the New York City police commissioner job in 1895, he cleaned house -- both on police accountability and on local tenement slumlords, according to the bio, Theodore Roosevelt: A Strenuous Life. First, TR fired the chief of police for corruption and kickbacks re liquor establishments and vice. Second, TR fired "Clubber" Roberts, a notorius rogue cop infamous for beating up on citizens and other people. Then TR went after local slumlords and substandard housing -- an issue which he thought was part and parcel of a proper city police function.

Earlier, in 1885, TR had toured sweatshops with Samuel Gompers in New York City, as a state assemblyman. A decade later, in 1895, TR teamed with writer and former homeless person Joseph Riis (who wrote How the Other Half Lives) and Stephen Crane, in touring slumlord tenement housing in the city where infant mortality was as high as 30% at the time. TR shut down both a police-operated series of homeless shelters, and shutdown 16 slumlord tenement buildings. Much of this was in opposition to the legacy of Tammany Hall, Boss Tweed, etc.

[The 1895 Tea Party types of New York City denounced TR then for "Roosevelt's Russian Rule" apparently comparing him to the Tsar, since that was pre-1917. No evidence of Sarah Palin's forebears originating from the Five Points, thusfar].

So far, in Portland, Oregon, despite activist tenants testifying at city hall for two years against local (but "nonprofit") slumlord, Central City Concern, housing commissioner Nick Fish has yet to meet with activist tenants re Central City Concern (CCC) over housing and habitability issues. CCC has 25 buildings, 1400 tenants, 400 workers and a $33,000,000 annual budget. In Oakland, California, in 2009, the city of Oakland cancelled that city's housing contract with their local nonprofit housing provider, and shut it down, after fraud and lack of habitability and accountability issues were raised there.

While Teddy Roosevelt was, by no means, a consistent reformer on the Left, at times, both before the Spanish-American War, in New York City, TR did fight for progressive reform, and later, with the Bull Moose Party and the Progressive Movement in 1912, TR was a voice, and a force, for human rights.

Will Amanda Fritz become Portland's TR on housing and police reform? Is a movement needed between housing activists and police abolitionists to 'reform' Portland police and Portland slumlords?

In regard to the James Chasse case, Jason Rinaud this week, in a long Oregonian editorial, called for the removal of Portland rouge cops Kyle Nice and Chris Humphreys -- not simply for reforms or paper changes that may or may not occur years later.

*************************

homepage: homepage: http://www.trimetriders.org
phone: phone: 503-222-2974
address: address: PO Box 40011, Portland, Oregon 97240