Our work may be enhanced by students taking ‘USP 316 – Community Organizing and Social Change’ this semester. This is the professor’s pitch:
Keaton Otis was a young black man who was killed by the Portland Police in May 2010 after being pulled over because he “looked like he could have been a gangster.” His death and others’ sparked community members to press for a federal Department of Justice civil rights investigation into the Portland Police Department’s use of force. The Justice Department found that the Portland Police routinely violated the civil rights of people with mental illness … by using excessive force.
As a result of the findings, the City of Portland and the federal Department of Justice must outline a series of reforms that will be instituted to prevent further civil rights violations. Despite the fact that community members pushed for this investigation, there has been little opportunity for Portlanders to be involved in designing the proposed solutions. The judge supervising the agreement will hold a Fairness Hearing on the proposed agreement and police use of force issues in Portland on Tuesday, February 18th.
Participants in this project will be working with the J4KO committee to help organize a series of community meetings where Portlanders can record testimony about their experiences with the police to present to the judge at the Fairness Hearing. Participants will help organize these meetings, conduct outreach to community members, record testimony and publicize these events. Because of the scheduled date of the Fairness Hearing, this will be an accelerated field experience—it will be 5-6 weeks in length, but you will asked to commit 5-6 hours per week rather than 3-4. You will need to be available for the Feb. 18th hearing. The committee currently meets Tuesday evenings.