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Racial Profiling in Portland: "Gang" List 64% African American,
$90,000 Settlement to Tasered Teen

There have been several developments around the issue of racial profiling in Oregon and Portland. Grassroots groups working on HB 2002 of 2015, which prohibited profiling and established a statewide reporting system, are pushing to strengthen the law in the upcoming legislative session in Salem. In December, the Attorney General responded to a report from the legislature's End Profiling group by proposing more training and data collection, but not getting rid of the word "solely" in the state's definition of profiling. The Oregonian exposed what PCW has known for a long time: the Portland Police Bureau's "gang list" is not based on criminal activity, but rather guilt by association. The City settled a lawsuit by Thai Gurule, the Portland teen who was racially profiled with his friends in 2014, then beaten, tased and kicked (PPR #64). And in related news, the Human Rights Commission (HRC) may be starting a new subcommittee to look at profiling issues.

The Oregonian's November 4 article outlined how the PPB has labeled 359 people as "criminal gang affiliates," 64% of them black. Not coincidentally, 64% is the exact figure of how many African Americans are pulled over by the Gang Enforcement Team in the latest traffic stop data (PPR #69). The article says "Police can add someone to the list if the person asserts gang membership, participates in a gang initiation ritual, commits a gang-related crime, or displays two or more observable signs of gang membership." Only one of those criteria-- committing a crime-- has anything to do with criminal behavior. The O also found people who used the system set up in the 1990s to challenge being put on the list (PPR #9) were successful 57% of the time (21 of 37).

On November 30, City Council approved a $90,000 settlement for Gurule. For context, Gurule was stopped just about one month after the high-profile killing of African American teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and two weeks after Portland Police shot and wounded DeNorris McClendon, a 26 year old black man in mental health crisis (also PPR #64). There is still no word on the outcome of the administrative investigation into Gurule's beating, but if the comments made by the Judge who acquitted Gurule in his criminal case mean anything, the City should find the officers had no reason to stop Gurule, used excessive force, and were untruthful on the witness stand.

Meanwhile, Portland's Human Rights Commission ended its self-imposed hiatus in September, agreeing to restructure itself to better address issues including racial profiling and police accountability. HRC's full membership is only meeting once every two months to aid subcommittee work. However, as of now, there is no clear signal the Community/Police Relations Committee or its successor will be meeting any time soon to examine traffic stop data and other trends in policing.

  People's Police Report

January, 2017
Also in PPR #70

Police Kill 1st Man in a Year;
  Former Chief Indicted

  Shootings in Other Oregon Jurisdictions
Bad Police Contract Rushed Into Place
Judge Seeks Fixed DOJ Oversight Body
Review Board Makes Recommendations
Proposed Oversight Changes in Works
Cop Complaints Sustained Over Civilians'
Profiling: "Gang" List, $90K Settlement
Updates PPR 70
  • Cops Sweep Houseless from Springwater
  Policy Changes at a Standstill
  Sheriff Reese Keeps Job Till 2018
  WashCo Sheriff Troubling Behavior
  Training Council Squanders Time with Chief
  Mohammed Loses Appeal
Quick Flashes PPR 70
  PPB Violence at Post-Election Protests
  City Pays Big Bucks for Misconduct
Rapping Back #70

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 #70 Table of Contents
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