Copwatch - a project of Peace and Justice Works


Site Navigation

About us
People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Cool links
Other Information
Contact info


PPB Drops "Gang List" While Profiling Data Remains Skewed
State Lawyer Settles "Black Lives Matter" Spy Case; Various African American Officials Under Scrutiny

While at the federal level, the FBI has been targeting Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists as "extremists" (p. 8), locally, Erious Johnson, the African American former Oregon Department of Justice lawyer spied on for his social media support of the BLM movement (PPR #67), has settled with the state. Meanwhile, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) took what seems to be a step in the right direction by announcing in early September they would get rid of their secret list of "gang members." Since the change didn't take place until October, it is too soon to tell if the third quarter Racial Profiling data from the City, which show no real change in the over-representation of African Americans in traffic and pedestrian stops, is reflective of changes on the street as a result of the new policy. Portland Copwatch (PCW) has also noted a disturbing ongoing trend in which prominent African Americans seem to be more harshly affected by political scandals.

Johnson resigned from the Attorney General's office in exchange for a $205,000 settlement, even though he was prepared to keep doing his work in the state's civil rights office. AG Ellen Rosenblum claims to have had nothing to do with what many see as Johnson's forced resignation (Portland Tribune, October 24). Agent James Williams of the DOJ flagged Johnson for tweeting with the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag and posting the logo of Public Enemy, which they mistook as a threat to police. Williams got his job back after an arbitrator ruled he didn't have sufficient guidance to avoid spying on Johnson. The investigative file reveals much interplay between the state government and the "Fusion Center," yet another federal umbrella that shares "intelligence" in a questionable manner.

The "gang list," which had been scrapped for being overly broad and then rebuilt in the mid-1990s (PPR #9), was a cause of consternation in the community for the way it could negatively affect a person's life, especially if they were never in a gang. Captain Mike Krantz, who led the Gang Enforcement Team (GET) for over three years, cites community trust trumping officers' "safety concerns" as a reason for the decision (Tribune, October 5). Dumping the list, though, doesn't mean the Bureau is getting rid of the GET or similar task forces.

On that note, the July-September Traffic Stop Data show "specialty units," including the GET, stop African American drivers 34% of the time in a city which is just 6% black. This compares to an overall stop rate of 16%-- the same as Q1 and Q2-- but outstrips both the Traffic Division (10%) and Patrol officers (21%), suggesting bias in the GET. Also, despite gentrification pushing out a good portion of Portland's black community, North Precinct officers stop African Americans 28% of the time. Meanwhile, the Bureau appears to be continuing to under-report pedestrian stops, with just 50 listed for this three-month period (it was 43 in Q1, as noted in PPR #72, and 49 in Q2). The percentage of pedestrians stopped who are African American went down from 16% to 10%, but that reflects five stops out of the 50. Confidence in the data isn't improved by the fact that 1256 stops were cancelled out by officers for various reasons. That is 17% of the 7205 stops reported for the quarter.

Former Assistant Chief Kevin Modica, the Bureau's highest ranking African American officer, agreed to resign while facing allegations related to discrimination against an Asian American employee (PPR #72). Modica was cleared of wrongdoing in former Chief Larry O'Dea's off-duty shooting (p. 1), but when he was demoted because of that controversy, Chief Mike Marshman eliminated the position O'Dea created to promote Modica-- Assistant Chief of Community Services. Even though Portland now has an African American Chief, there are not many black employees in the PPB's upper ranks. Looking at (a) the controversy around County Commissioner Loretta Smith, who was dinged with a $250 fine for allegedly pressuring staffers to work on campaign events not related to her office, (b) Johnson's case, (c) that Latino Captain Derek Rodrigues was the only person punished in the O'Dea scandal, and (d) Modica, one senses a pattern that people of color are singled out in ways white officials are not. Meanwhile, Multnomah County analyst Amanda Lamb, who found disparities in the court and jail system (PPR #68), had her presentation to a conference in Las Vegas scrubbed from the web after District Attorney Rod Underhill and others complained she did not have the County's permission to publicly present the data. Noting African Americans are over four times more likely to be charged and jailed than their white counterparts, and 50 times more likely to be charged with cocaine possession seemed to upset officials who said Lamb's sample size was too small (Portland Mercury, November 8). She was fired in December ( Mercury, December 13).

See the Portland stop data at: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/artic le/639945

  People's Police Report

January, 2018
Also in PPR #73

PPB Shoots 3rd Young Black Man in 2017
  25 Oregon Deadly Force Incidents About Average
PPB Drops "Gang List", Releases Data
Sheriff Clears Self of Immigration Wrongdoing
DOJ Analyses: Lack of De-Escalation
Training Council: Force Data Missing
Oversight Body Challenges 2 Findings
Police Review Board Minimizes Force
Mayor Pushes Houseless from Downtown
Chief Outlaw Talks Frankly, Takes Heat
Campaign: Pull PPB from Terror Task Force
Protests: Resistance and Arrests
Crowd Policy Authorizes Violence
Quick Flashes PPR 73
  • Multnomah DA Phasing Out Grand Juries
  • Body Cams Don't Affect Cops' Behavior
  • Another Pervo-Cop
Rapping Back #73

Portland Copwatch
PO Box 42456
Portland, OR 97242
(503) 236-3065/ Incident Report Line (503) 321-5120
e-mail: copwatch@portlandcopwatch.org

Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.

People's Police Report #73 Table of Contents
Back to Portland Copwatch home page
Peace and Justice Works home page
Back to top