There was a hearing today dealing with police accountability. These are my own thoughts and could be off the mark, feel free to critique this report. The hearing was in Federal Judge Michael Simon's court and lasted about 1 hour or so.
Going to the federal courts is always an adventure in patience; security is almost a phobia. This time was not bad, the bus ride was longer than I expected but I did get to the courthouse on time. Judge Simon's court is on the 13th floor, I was surprised that building even had a 13th floor, never mind holding hearings there. The judge did most of the talking and I will attempt to give you some idea of what happened. I was under the impression we would be given a scheduled date for public input on the settlement that was made behind closed doors. During a previous city council hearing the public did get about 90 seconds to comment, the last few were cut down to 60 seconds. We did not get to say anything today. The settlement will now go to a mediator as soon as one is selected. The problem is that the four groups who will have some say on what is the final settlement do not get along. The groups are:
1. Department of Justice, 2. The city of Portland, 3. The union representing the cops, and 4. The Albina Ministerial Alliance, made up of 125 Portland area churches. The AMA has less influence than the other three. I was surprised by this as I thought the AMA requested the investigation of Po Po in the first place. The judge decided that the AMA will have a place at the table, but they may have to wash the dishes after each meeting and will be sitting on shorter stools. (My thoughts.)
The judge started off good, announcing his desire to have this exercise open to the public but ended up closing most meetings down. The public can/maybe give testimony but will have to go to the courthouse during normal working hours and go through security. I was asked for a picture ID today and gather that will be the norm. JoAnn asked that a place be selected away from the cops and held on a Saturday or after work hours---Nope!
The AMA wanted the Justice Department to investigate race profiling, how the cops deal with homeless and in general a police department accountable to the people of Portland---Nope!
Where are we now?
The next step will be for the four groups to pick a mediator or, if they cannot agree on one, to submit 3 names to the judge and he will pick one. After that it gets very fuzzy, we may never see a police department that is concerned about killing a person. We just experienced another shooting in the last few days, a man was already a patient at Adventist Hospital and the reports so far say he had a gun and was threatening security at the hospital. There will be more on this in the coming days as the man was shot and killed. My impressions were mixed, Judge Simon seems to care about resolving this settlement and in the coming weeks and months it may get interesting. I was glad that I went, got to see some friends and let them know they do have support from Individuals For Justice. I will continue to monitor
Back to City Hall tomorrow and on Friday back to the Hawthorne Bridge, busy week for me.