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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 25, 2009 5:10 AM. The previous post in this blog was Just deserts. The next post in this blog is The least they can do. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The other people

Now that the Portland police union has made its big show of solidarity in support of one of its most violent members, some folks on the other side of police brutality are planning what will likely be a much smaller demonstration outside the Justice Center at 11:30 a.m. today. The Albina Ministerial Alliance has announced a news conference to protest the Humphreys beanbag incident, and its leaders have invited others who are concerned about the incident to join them there.

An e-mail alert they sent out yesterday served as a reminder that the latest instance of questionable use of force by Portland police is just one in a line of such cases:

The AMA took the lead in organizing protests after the killings of Kendra James (2003) and James Jahar Perez (2004), and the tasering of 15-year-old Sir Millage (2006), and have been shoulder to shoulder with the Justice for Jose Mejia Poot Justice Committee (2001) and the Mental Health Association of Portland in efforts on the James Chasse case.
They left out "Squeaky" Young, who was shot to death by a police lieutenant in violation of bureau policy on Jan. 4, 2006.

Anyway, it might be worth part of one's lunch hour on a holiday eve to go over there and stand with the people who hunger and thirst for justice.

Comments (27)

Herodotus didn't have the 24/7 news cycle.

Could Xerxes have been turned back by bloggers?

Ah well.

The sad slope begins in April 1992 and the case of Mari Lyn Sandoz and some good reporting at The Oregonian.

See - http://www.mentalhealthportland.org/?p=3718

No thanks Jack, I'll stay home and give thanks that there are some among us who try to keep the worst of us at bay.

"...give thanks that there are some among us who try to keep the worst of us at bay." and of course the price of that is some collateral damage and the occaisional misunderstanding.

Would that there was time to print up a bunch of t-shirts. "I Am James Chasse" on the front. "I Support Justice" on the back.

I went down to the cop demo yesterday just to see it for myself. It was chilling to witness a bunch of police officers protesting for MORE power in this town.

"I Am James Chasse" on the front.

Brilliant.

I'll stay home and give thanks that there are some among us who try to keep the worst of us at bay.

I'll go out on a limb and say that a 12-year-old girl who snatched a purse is not "the worst of us", by far.

I'll take our society over those where homemade bombs kill dozens every day. As I said in another post: A BEAN BAG causing all this sound and fury? Give me a break. The Portland police are not perfect, but I like the fact that we live in one of the safest cities in the U.S., and they have to get some credit for that. But they are an easy target for those who don't put themselves in harms way to protect most of us from the few that would do us harm. Walk in their shoes before talking all this righteous indignation. I'm sorry this young girl got bean bagged while resisting arrest, but she is still around for Thanksgiving for her parents and family, unlike the many children that have been lost to world famine, disease, war and terror. So I'm giving thanks for having had the opportunity to raise my family in a city like Portland, and to the people in blue that helped make it safer to do so. And I'm thankful for blog sites like this that permit healthy civil discourse on such matters.

I think this could be labeled overreaction by the police, however, I wouldn't be surprised if the the girl is wearing a huge "badge of honor" right now amongst her peers. Sad.

db: "I am not worried about the conduct of our police, because it's still better than Rwanda."

That's a stretch, db. Is James Chasse still around for Thanksgiving with his family, by the way? Because the officers involved are. They're buying the turkey with a big fat check from you and me.

In the Oregonian this morning, I found it somehow instructive that the last time the cops rallied it was in defense of officers who left two dead animals on a black person's door step.

Portland cops sure know how to pick their battles.

I'll take our society over those where homemade bombs kill dozens every day.

How about a society where corporate release of toxic chemicals kills dozens each day? No? America routinely kills its own, "db".

I reject the "be grateful, because you've got it better than some other people" nonsense. If that made any sense, then why not fascism? Because after all--fascism is better than suicide bombers and terrorists. Right? Or get rid of this lousy Constitution! I mean, Rwandans don't have a constitution, right? We should be grateful we've just got the Declaration of Independence.

I'll go out and say - a 12-year-old girl who punches cops in the face after being banned from MAX is the worst of us.
Cop haters have no idea the scum bath they take all day, every day.

Perspective, folks. I agree: where the heck are her parents? And I hope social services are following up on that.

But in the end, I'm sorry, I expect a professional police force to be able to handle a 12-year-old, yes, even a "big" one without firing beanbags.

I agree Portland's a safe place, but its cops seem to be involved in more "messy" cases than in other places I've lived that are considerable less safe. And most of Portland's "messy" cases should not have escalated to that point.

The police response in the Chasse case is, frankly, indefensible. A frail, mentally ill man may, or may not have, taken a leak on a public sidewalk. And he ends up dead?

My guess is that 90 percent of Portland's cops are fine, upstanding public servants. The other 10 percent need to be weeded out. Without apology.

No thanks Jack, I'll stay home and give thanks that there are some among us who try to keep the worst of us at bay.

It's that kind of thinking that creates this appalling circle-the-wagons, only-accountable-to-themselves culture within police forces.

Look, I get that officers see the worst that human beings can do to each other day in and day out. That enforcing the laws is often unpleasant, and sometimes requires matching thuggery and firepower with more thuggery and firepower. That the general public doesn't understand all this, that it's easy for armchair critics to spout off in the Oregonian and blogs without knowing the full context. That a thorough review may ultimately exonerate Officer Humphries, and that Dan Saltzman jumped to conclusions without letting the internal investigation wrap up.

But an officer that starts taking off his judgment and humanity when he puts on his uniform needs to retire or get a desk job or a new line of work. And a police union that forgets that its members serve and are paid by the citizens and their duly elected leaders deserves sanction and limits on its influence.

As Anna Griffin points out in her column today, many PPB officers live in the suburbs. Maybe it's time to require as other cities do that officers live within city limits or at least within Multnomah County (and offer a housing subsidy to those who can't afford it). I'm not saying it's a factor in this particular case, but this us-against-them mentality certainly can't be helped by officers that helicopter in to police people they feel no neighborly or community connections only to scramble back to their redoubts in the (dare we say it) largely white and conservative suburbs.

I'll go out and say - a 12-year-old girl who punches cops in the face after being banned from MAX is the worst of us.

Wow.

Cop haters have no idea the scum bath they take all day, every day.

Criticism does not equal "hate", D. Sure makes it easier to demonize others, though, doesn't it?

As I said in another post: A BEAN BAG causing all this sound and fury?

Let's clear up some confusion here. This is not a "bean bag" in the same sense as the large overstuffed sack you can sink into and watch a football game. This is basically a shotgun blast--buckshot--contained in a small bag. People have been KILLED by these things. The term "bean bag" is very misleading, and thus you can see why the cops love the term so much--it confuses the issue, and lets them get away with some pretty nasty behavior.

Ecohuman: I like our Constitution. Know of a better one?

"Fascism" is a word thrown around with such loose disregard for its historic meaning. My father served in it's defeat in Germany, where a fascist government systematically murdered millions of innocent Jews, and other undesirables, as a matter of state policy.

Obviously we can always do better, and the death of Mr. Chasse is a horrible tragedy that should never have occurred. The Court will assign blame for that under our judicial system, (preserved by that same Constitution), not that that can compensate his family for the loss.

I intend no disrespect to his family and friends and offer no defense of those responsible for his death, but he wasn't hidden in some unmarked grave by the side of the road, and we are all still talking about it to try to prevent it from occurring again. Same with the bean bag (or whatever it actually is) incident. Not a discourse that would be allowed in a "fascist" state (see eg: Iran).

I guess I just believe the police, as a general matter, act in good faith to protect us, but I also recognize that there are individual situations where they exceed their authority and abuse their power. The Chasse case clearly appears to be one of them, and a jury will decide that issue after a full airing of the evidence. But when those types of situations happen, they generally see the light of day and end up in the public discourse- here, on the streets and in the Courts- something also preserved by that same Constitution. I'm thankful for that, and for your right to disagree with me.

"Fascism" is a word thrown around with such loose disregard for its historic meaning. My father served in it's defeat in Germany, where a fascist government systematically murdered millions of innocent Jews, and other undesirables, as a matter of state policy.

For the love of god. that whooshing sound you're hearing is the point flying over your head. The subject isn't "fascism", it's trying to excuse behavior by claiming somebody else in another country has it worse. That's nonsense.

The chest thumping about wars/warriors/ doesn't serve anybody well, either. It's beside the point. This isn't a hero novel, or a war--unless there's somebody in uniform who wants to think of it as such.

Who is demonizing who?
It shouldn't be hard to see where this girl is headed in life. I would hope something like this would sound an alarm to at least get her some help she's not likely getting at home.

Yeah, maybe Humphreys should have shot her eye out -- for her sake.

Suppose that I stood on the steps of city hall at 10 AM yesterday and announced -- over and over -- through a bullhorn: "Thumper killed James, and should go to jail."

Could the folks there at the time claim to have a valid permit to exclude competing "free speech" voices? There is absolutely no chance that they obtained any permit or that the code allows them exclusive rights on the city hall steps. (Though Sam's supporters once set the example by using the same space, but after business hours.)

It is they who would have likely reacted aggressively to my bullhorning.

If today's protest is on those same front steps and anyone sought to enforce the city code and exclude them who would be left to act as the enforcer? Suppose a pro-police-state counter-protester uses a bullhorn today from the same steps to drown out this protest?

Anarchy is best illustrated by example, as here.

Perhaps someone could protest Max fees (and anarchy) by bringing a bullhorn with them and announce -- over and over -- "Max fees are too high! Police are brutes!" They could claim it is a free speech right, just like the police do on the city hall steps.

I want city to take action against the protesters for their unlawful use of the city hall steps. The sidewalk was close by and the present restriction from the city hall steps is reasonable.

fix:

bringing a bullhorn with them [insert "onto Max"] and announce

After reading comments here and in the Oregonian, where they are lambasting Anna Griffin I am reminded of the words of Jack Nicholson in "A Few Good Men" shortly before he is taken into custody:

“Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Whose gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have more responsibility here than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And that my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. I know deep down in places you dont talk about at parties, you don’t want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then question the manner in which I provide it. I prefer you said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand to post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to!”

This appears to be the sentiment of our Police Union and its supporters. Unfortunately it doesn't make me feel safer to have these guys protecting us. It feels like more of a threat.

cbb,

Timely and spot-on reference. That is the vibe Westerman seems to be channeling.

Perspective, folks. I agree: where the heck are her parents?

I keep hearing this plain, but at least one of the people supporting Humphreys said that the girl's mother had apologized to the cop she allegedly hit (although Griffin's article this morning says "slapped" and not "punched").

But I'd have to ask, if you were the parent of a large 12-year-old who was out of control, what would you do? If you're going to make the case that two police officers can't handle her without shooting her, why would you expect her parents to be able to do any better?

Sir Millage? Is he the knight of tax levies? Perhaps a good tasering was appropriate.

Darrelplant, that's not my ultimate point. Read the rest.

I do question a 12-year-old being out that late at night -- and that is solely her parents' responsibility. BUT I believe I made it quite clear that 3 police officers ought to be able to handle even a "large" 12-year-old. Particularly one that is unarmed.

WOW! this tale of woe is getting really good and you need to grab your popcorn, grab good seat and watch history in the making...you'll be able to tell your grandkids that you saw the PPB/PPA self-destruct and go down in flames...what a motion picture to behold...it'll make Oscar potential for sure!


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