Waiting for Justice
As some of you have seen, I posted that on July 9th, 2013 my son was beaten by the Portland Police. He was then charged with harassment by the Police officer for spitting on him. My son was spitting out blood after the officer struck him, busting open his lip. He was released at 1 in the afternoon the same day and walked the block and a half to my office in City Hall. His lip was swollen and bleeding, he had a knot and bruise on the left side of his head and when he lifted his shirt there were several contusions on his back, his arms, and his shoulders. He told me he was beaten while he was hogtied (the official police term now is “hobbled” – it still refers to how you treat an animal to control it, but I guess it is the “PC” term these days.
The City of Portland had been investigated by the Federal Department of Justice for their extreme acts of violence on people of color and the mentally ill for a couple of years. My son fits both of these categories. The DOJ said that the ppb have been using excessive use of force on the mentally ill but it was not determined that they did so with people of color. My son fits into both of those categories, he has very light skin and was marked as white on his police report.
In fact, here in Portland on February 18th the federal Judge will be here because he wants to hear from the community about their interactions with police where they were harmed.
I know a lot of people in my life that live in this community have had these incidents happen. I know this has happened for a long time in North and Northeast Portland. Almost all of the people I know that were mistreated where either African American or Native American. They are young, they are old, they still live and some have past
. Recently, at a City Council meeting there was a presentation from the office of the Auditor in regards to the Independent Police review process. From the looks of the crowd of community and the Police there was a lot of interest in this topic. Through the comments that were spoken there was one that burns in my mind. A community leader was testifying about how violence had occurred so often in our community and how it needed to stop and that the proposal did not go far enough to keep our community from harm.
When she was done with her testimony one of the Commissioners asked her a question. He said he was not aware of this issue about people of color and the Police. At first when I heard this comment I was in shock and then triggered back to my own situations in the past twenty years with the Police. I couldn’t believe he then asked “where are these people, how can we get to them?” I was further blown away by this question. There have been many times in my life here in Portland that comments similar to these would take me aback and anger me and at many times trigger my own PTSD.
On July 9th, this incident threw me back to a darker place then I had ever been, causing my brain to go back to an incredibly violent place that I had escaped a long time ago. I was once again in a dungeon of dark depression and deep hopelessness. I had to sign up for FMLA because I was missing so much work, I burned through all of my sick leave and vacation leave and started to stress more which added even more stress. I would wake up in the morning shaking so hard and asking myself how I could walk into this machines where policies and negotiated benefits would allow my coworkers to harm our families and friends in this community. Yes, the Police are my coworkers and some of them are my friends and respected colleagues, this is why it hurt even more.
November 2014 marks my 20th anniversary as a community organizer. For 14 of those years I worked in People of Color led organizations, for the last 7 I have been working with communities of color and immigrant refugee communities as well as the leaders in the 95 neighborhoods.
To be continued ~ The positive anchors in my life and the power of the Creator and organizing.