The big news about Portland's born-again Police Chief, Mark Kroeker, broke in the November issue of the Portland Alliance: In the late 80s or early 90s, Kroeker was caught on audiotape making homophobic and otherwise offensive remarks to a group of Christian police officers. But the bigger story unfolded as the mainstream media asked Kroeker about the remarks and he replied that his religious beliefs are personal and that he tries to keep them separate from his work. He did not deny making these remarks, or state whether he still believes them:
--"We are increasingly becoming a valueless, a lawless society, and we become so more as we move to that day 'alternative lifestyle' is being used for certain forms of perversion. And I have to tell you there is an 'alternative death style' which is breeding through our major cities."
--"On this terrible issue of homosexuality, the other clear evidence in our society shows that, as we have moved away from control of certain criminal activities, the result has become a disaster."
Kroeker also disparaged the criminal justice system, but apparently not for being racist, overly zealous, or a waste of taxpayer money. "You walk into the hall of justice...After a few trials I replaced in my mind 'hall of alleged justice.' Then, a few years later, after I saw what really went on there, I replaced the last word...'hall of injustice.'..Here's a criminal trial written by a police officer: 'Doings of the dark pit in which criminal suspects, the police, and the functionaries of the criminal courts wrestle with each other in sightless ooze." The implication, chillingly, is that since there is no justice in the courts, the police officers listening to his talk should take matters into their own hands.
Other interesting statements made by Kroeker and taped by the same organization appeared in the November 1 Willamette Week. These include: "If you haven't figured out how to be a submissive wife...then [kids are] going to be confused in the way they approach their lives."
Kroeker also apparently advocated the use of corporal punishment. The WW reports he talked about how "he disciplined children with a 3-foot paddle" as a volunteer at a Christian Camp.
WW also talked to two people from L.A. who had tried to warn Portland's City Hall about Kroeker, but were either brushed off or not taken seriously; one of them was former Portland Police Chief Penny Harrington.
But none of this should really be a surprise. As we noted in PPR #21, Kroeker has cracked down on civil protests, forced his "troops" to shave their beards and cut their hair, and stated that he refuses to work in a city in which there is a powerful civilian review board (see Mayor's Task Force article).
Gay rights groups, women's organizations, police accountability activists and others came together to challenge Kroeker's ability to continue as Chief. Love Makes a Family and the Police Accountability Campaign held a forum on November 21 at which ten panelists spoke and heard testimony from several individuals against Kroeker's taped statements. Several victims of police brutality told their stories and called for a stronger civilian review board. Chief. Kroeker deferred appearing at the forum in favor of a presumably more "manageable" meeting planned for December 11 by gay publication Just Out.
For transcripts of the Kroeker tapes, contact the Police Chief Concerns Group, 503-228-3892 or the Portland Alliance, 503-239-4991.
More information on the Chief is available in Kroeker's Korner.
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