February 19, 2010

Still No Justice, Still No Peace!

For an elected, civilian police review board in Portland! Justice for Aaron Campbell!

The Freedom Socialist Party stands with communities of color, unionists, immigrants, sexual minorities, the poor and homeless, feminists, activists, and all victims of police violence in the wake of the shameful and racist killing of Aaron Campbell by Portland Police Officer Ronald Frashour.   We commend the community organizing that the Albina Ministerial Alliance and other organizations have initiated and urge all social justice and anti-racist organizations to mobilize for a concrete change that is long overdue – an elected independent civilian police review board

Rooted in inequality and injustice.

Twenty years ago, the world watched a grainy videotape of Rodney King being brutally beaten by Los Angeles police officers.  A year later the nearly all-white jury acquittal of the four cops ignited an international grassroots rebellion against police violence.  One of the demands that rang out was the need for civilian oversight of police.  The murder of Aaron Campbell on January 29, 2010 by Portland Police reflects the obvious – the unelected Citizens Review Committee (CRC) of the Independent Police Review Division (IPR) is a sham. 

The problem is systemic. In a capitalist society, wherever there are police, there will be police brutality because the cops' main job is to protect big business and private property. The use of force to guard the "haves" from the "have-nots" and to repress dissidents is a given. The link between the class role of the cops and institutionalized racism is an old one. The first police unit in colonial America was formed to capture runaway slaves! And, as special targets of the cops, historically and currently, African Americans always have taken on key leadership in fighting back.

Advise is not Accountability

Portland's "review board" is the CRC created in 2001 “to help improve police accountability, promote higher standards of police services, and increase public confidence.  Volunteer CRC members are appointed by the City Council to perform four primary duties: Gather community concerns about police services; help the IPR Director develop policy recommendations to address patterns of problems with police services and conduct; review and advise on IPR handling of complaints; hear appeals from complainants and officers and publicly report its findings“(emphasis added).

A Civilian Review Board must not be merely an advisory body.  It must have the authority to investigate and discipline cops who are found guilty of violating constitutional and civil rights.  Such a board needs to be independent of the police department and city hall, and have an independent special prosecutor and public funding.  It needs to have elected members representative of the working and poor people who are the favorite targets of uniformed “public servants”.

Nobody is under the illusion that a review board will eliminate cop depredations: these will be a fact of life as long as we have a social and economic system that exploits the majority for the benefit of a few. But elected civilian review boards could certainly reduce police abuses. And they could provide some recourse against cops who now murder and maim unrestrained. This change in accountability is worth fighting for!

    • Establish an elected and truly independent civilian police review board
    • Stop racist police violence and racial profiling
    • Terminate Officer Ronald Frashour from the police force
    • Fund financial restitution to Cambell’s family from the police department’s retirement account

Freedom Socialist Party
819 N. Killingsworth St., Portland Oregon 97217