Justice journal 3
Jeri Williams –Mother, Grandmother, artist, writer, prayer warrior, enrolled member of the Klamath Tribe, activist, trainer, city employee
My name is Jeri Williams and I have lived in Portland for 25 years and was raised in Oregon. Throughout those years I have filed 2 formal complaints with the Police. The first was race based with Internal Affairs and at the end I was told the officer was given the highest level of discipline he could receive. This was in the mid-nineties when an officers screamed racial slurs at my 9 year old African American daughter and got right into my face yelling about Native people like me.
I didn’t want discipline~ I wanted change~ I wanted him to learn why what he did was wrong and how he didn’t have to repeat his mistakes. I didn’t want my children to grow up fearing the police.
The 2nd incident resulted in a letter of apology for the officers that neglected to write a report on threats from a pimp threatening to kill me for helping get a teenager away from him. The pimp was waiting at my front door with a gun. I went to the station and the police followed me home. I gave him the threatening note the pimp had left on my door. When the girl pointed him out sitting in a car down the street. They followed after him, he ditched the car and ran. While examining the car they found a pistol and pictures of child porn under his seat. He was a registered sex offender. He called me threatening me several times a day which I recorded. As I waited for 30 days to pass to get my stalking order I lived in fear, I had to send my kids away.
I went to court with my recordings and there was no police report, so I wasn’t able to get my order but the judge gave him a stern warning. Checking back with the police I found these two officers not only never wrote a report but they also lost the note I gave them for evidence. This time I took my complaint to the Mayor’s office and received a sorry note from the then Chief.
I was told later that the officers said they thought he was my pimp and because women always take them back they didn’t bother to write a report. Because of this I lost my right to obtain a stalking order from a very violent person.
Again, I’m not looking for discipline –were they ever even notified of how their actions put my children and I in danger?
When I first heard that the DOJ determined that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove their mistreatment against people of color but did find they had a problem treating the mentally ill I almost fell out of my seat. My husband and I had been pulled over several times for driving while colored. WE were searched always asked about drugs. What could we do? We lived in the hood. Some neighborhoods had beautiful parks or other amenities, we had cops everywhere. I’ve had friends beaten by the police, I’ve seen folks beat up beyond recognition, noses and arms broken mostly Black males from young teens to old men. But race isn’t an issue. I heard that not enough folk of color talked with the DOJ to prove race was an issue. Having folks come and snitch on the police with no witness protection program? That’s as bad as police that tell 13 year old victims of prostitution “you’re a victim if you turn in your pimp~ you’re a criminal if you don’t.” And yet they offer them no safety if they tell, no incentive even though they know this young victim has been brainwashed to believe she’ll be dead if she tells. What did the DOJ expect to hear? When they went around asking, what was their outreach strategy, what did they offer, did they realize our general mistrust of Government? Did they study the historical racist policies put in place to steal from the Indians and kill them and not allow other colors to live here? Did they feel the weird racism, latte liberal PCism that is Portland?
And yet on Monday morning at 9am we are going to decide if we are going to give 26 mil for them to work on this.
The accountability for this effort is two-fold. First there must be a process in place that is agreed to by both sides to have integrity, honesty and true independence and not the current situation. History has always taught us that when the fox guards the henhouse the chickens get sacrificed. Secondly, we must recognize that this is tax payers’ money and should not be wasted and it should be accounted for understanding the seriousness of our goals for correction.