People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Updates People's Police Report 67
Even though the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals accepted an appeal of the conviction of Mohammed Mohamud, who was set up by the FBI (with help from the Portland Police) in a convoluted fake bomb plot in 2010 (PPR #52), Oregon's US Attorney's office was given an award for Mohamud's "successful" prosecution. On September 24, the Court accepted the 202- page appeal based on violations of Mohamud's fourth amendment rights, which notes he was illegally spied on as part of the sting operation (Oregonian, September 26). The "Attorney General's Award for Furthering the Interests of National Security" was given to Billy Williams and other members of Portland's local Department of Justice (DOJ) office on October 21, the same day the DOJ was reporting to the local federal court on its efforts to hold Portland Police accountable (Oregonian, October 25). Forgive us for being cynical about working with the same agency which funded Mohamud, gave him the fake explosives, and put the then-19-year-old (now 24) into a California prison for a 30-year term.
The documentary "Arresting Power: Resisting Police Violence in Portland, Oregon" which was first screened in early 2015 (PPR #65) played at the NW Filmmakers' festival in November. The Portland Mercury wrote that the movie "should be mandatory viewing for all citizens of this city, especially those only foggily aware of its history of racial struggle" (November 11). DVDs are available from Portland Copwatch for $20.
More info: arrestingpower.com
Even though the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) still has not created a definition of the term "gang- related," they continue to use that label for just about any crime in which African Americans are involved (PPR #66). On September 15, PPB spokesperson Sergeant Pete Simpson told the Skanner: "that term doesn't have a universal definition. Instead, police use a working description of gang membership... every city that documents gang activity still has 'gray areas.'" Yet by that time in 2015, the number of such incidents logged by the Bureau was 150. Buried deep in the article, Simpson says "We cannot arrest our way out of this problem."
By November 13, the Oregonian reported the Bureau had listed 166 such incidents, but doesn't say how many of the City's 32 homicides were considered "gang-related." Adding two deaths they report happened that week to eight listed in the Oregonian's on-line database published November 5, that means 10 or 31% of homicides in 2015 are considered "gang-related." The Nov. 13 article also notes at the end that three of the 32 homicides were from officer-involved shootings (that's almost 10%).
Since the perceived "epidemic" of "gang violence" is being used to justify calls for more police being hired (see Rapping Back--again), it would be good for an unbiased third party to create and impose a standard definition and conduct a meaningful analysis, rather than perpetuating fear and an excuse for the cops to overpolice Portland's black population.
The Training Advisory Council (TAC), a multi-member group advising the Bureau, is required by the Settlement Agreement with the USDepartment of Justice (DOJ) to review quarterly data on Use of Force to make recommendations. The DOJ, in its first annual assessment of the implementation of reforms, noted there was no evidence the TAC had made any recommendations to the Bureau in its three year existence, and their only contribution seemed to be recruiting community members to role play during training scenarios. In addition, the Bureau's new REGJIN database crashed in April, and no Force statistics were released between then and November. So, the TAC did not discuss Force at all during its September or November meetings. On the other hand, responding in part to DOJ criticisms, they sent email notification of the November meeting (albeit one day in advance), and allowed public comment during that meeting. PCW's Dan Handelman was the only non-TAC community member present, and therefore the first and only one to use that time.
To be fair, the TAC made a few mild recommendations around the Bureau's Training Directive in September. However, they spent nearly their entire November meeting looking at timelines and structures to formulate recommendations once per year to coincide with the Bureau's training cycle. Since TAC already spent considerable time rebooting after creating its initial structure (PPR #61), it all seems a waste of time.
The next TAC meeting, if you care, is Wednesday, January 13.
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.