Category Archives: Background

Elements of the backstory, from the 2012 killing of Keaton Otis to the present. Includes Findings of civil rights violations by the City of Portland, made by the DoJ in 2012.

PSU to Offer Interns Opportunity to Help Organize

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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.

Justice for Keaton Otis & Fred Bryant

December 17, 2013

UPDATE: Fairness Hearing scheduled for 18 February, 9am.

On Thursday, 19 December, at 1pm, Federal Judge Michael Simon will set a date for a public hearing on the proposed settlement agreement between the City of Portland and the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. Simon will make his announcement in the Mark O Hatfield U.S. Courthouse.

This past January, Amanda Marshall, U.S. Attorney for Oregon, in consultation with the defendant (City of Portland), developed these proposals for a hearing they then hoped to rush into. The DoJ took the positions the Agreement should be reviewed as “whole, rather than the individual component parts.” In other words, the Court cannot “delete, modify or substitute certain provisions;” the Agreement “must stand or fall in its entirety.”

Marshall proposed a plan where the public would submit written comments within 30 days of the hearing’s announcement. The DoJ and perpetrators (City, Police, et al) would confer, then – two weeks before the hearing – take positions on the relevancy of individual public comments.

Any member of the public, or organization, who desires to be heard at the evidentiary hearing, must have previously presented written comments, and requested to provide oral testimony. Only testimony and other evidence that is relevant, as determined by the Court, will be allowed at the hearing. The Court will determine the order of the individuals providing testimony. Each member of the public will be provided three (3) minutes to provide oral testimony. Organizations providing testimony will be limited to presenting three (3) representatives of their organization. Each representative will have three (3) minutes to testify. The Court may extend time for testimony for good cause. Testimony may be cross-examined.

It is unclear whether Judge Simon has been persuaded to confine public participation in the way the government seeks. Consult Hardesty argued for hearings far more comprehensive, HERE.

In this report to Judge Simon U.S. Attorney Marshall describes community input (Page 7) in the development of an Agreement. An ill-thought-out document was negotiated by insiders, in secret. On 26 October 2012, the DoJ and City released a draft and announced it would be presented to City Council just five days later, on 1 November. Public testimony was robust. The parties retreated behind closed doors. Marshall states, “The parties again engaged in additional negotiations regarding amendments arising from public comments and submitted a revised proposal to City Council on November 8, 2012.” What she does not disclose is that the public were then testifying on a document they’d not yet seen. (Testimony here.) City Council passed their motion to approve of the Agreement without incorporating anything submitted in a massive public turnout.

Judge Simon’s hearing will be the first time the public has had a chance to testify as to the contents of the draft that’s been under consideration since final passage by Portland City Council on 14 November.