Proposed law focuses on police accountability
By Cari Hachmann/ The Portland Observer
In a grassroots effort, the Center for Intercultural Organizing has kicked off a campaign to end racial profiling and improve police accountability in Oregon.
The diverse membership organization, whose mission is to protect and expand immigrant and refugee rights through community education, organizing and advocacy, held a meeting at their North Killingsworth Street office last week to raise awareness on the issue.
People from the community who have been wrongfully profiled or stereotyped by the police were invited to come and share their story.
“You don’t have to be a minority or of different ethnicity to be profiled,” said Emanuel Price, racial justice policy advocate at the center.
Supported by the Urban League of Portland, the Albina Ministerial Alliance, and Basic Rights of Oregon, the center is working to pass Senate Bill 560, legislation that would prevent police from pulling over suspects based on a stereotype, ensuring that the suspect is properly identified and the data, recorded. It would also ensure cultural competency training to a higher decree for police officers.
“[Racial profiling] is something I have experienced throughout my history living in Portland, Oregon,” said Price. “It has affected everyone from elementary school kids to high school students to grown adults.”
The public may recall the death of Keaton Otis, who was shot 23 times by Portland police in May 2010. A 25-year-old African-American man, Otis was wearing a hoodie and suspected to be a gang member when police pulled him over in his car.
Racial profiling and police violence is not limited to Oregon. Last year, the nation called attention to Florida’s Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old African American shot dead by a resident watchman. Martin also was wearing a hoodie and was mistaken for criminal behavior when he was just walking through a neighborhood.
“These types of incidents have been happening throughout history and it’s ridiculous,” said Price.