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article imagePortland rallies against shooting of unarmed man by police Special

By Carol Forsloff     Feb 17, 2010 in World
Portland - Portland, the city of protest, has something serious to protest today. Hundreds of people rallied at the Justice Center in Portland to protest the police shooting of a suicidal man in the back, then leaving him to die handcuffed over a 30-minute period.
Portland Rallies to Protest Neighborhood Son Shot in the Back by Police
Two weeks ago a young man by the name of Aaron M. Campbell was killed by a policeman who shot him in the back. Campbell was unarmed, but police reported he reached for his waistband rather than raising his arms over his head. North Precinct Officer Ronald Flashour subsequently shot Campbell in the back, bringing an outcry about police abuses and problems of racial profiling in African American neighborhoods. Flashour has been returned to duty following a grand jury's investigation that pointed to police error as responsible for the death of the unarmed Campbell. While episodes of police violence are documented in cities all over the world, racial profiling incidents are of particular consequence in a town known for progressive politics.
An editorial in the Oregonian a week following the shooting incident took a look at this incident and how Campbell had been reported as armed and suicidal, an action that had brought the police in response. Campbell's brother, Timothy Douglass, had died earlier the same day of kidney and heart failure. Campbell had afterward gone to the home of Angie Jones, his girlfriend. Jones' aunt had called 9-1-1 to report she had been unable to reach Jones and mentioned Campbell had a gun and was suicidal because of his younger brother's death.
The Oregonian reported how witnesses to the shooting said Campbell came out of the apartment where he had been with his girlfriend, then started walking backward toward police as he was instructed. His hands were behind his head, those on the scene said, even though police reported Campbell ignored their orders, provoking six bean bag rounds to be fired at him. When Campbell reached around his back where one of those rounds had hit him, Officer Flashour shot him with an AR-15 rifle. Later the officer reported he believed Campbell was going for a gun. Campbell was found, however, to have been unarmed at the time of the shooting.
A grand jury reviewed the case, indicting the police actions, even though no punishment was given to Officer Flashour or any of the other officers on duty at the time of the shooting.
The community has been split by this incident, some saying the police have been profiling people while others protest the police just circle their wagons and deny anything wrong.
KGW, a major television station in the Portland area, and the Oregonian, Portland's flagship newspaper, have both regularly run headline stories on Campbell's death which happened January 29. Documents released today were reviewed by the Oregonian. The account in today's paper declared how Lewton, who had shot the beanbag rounds, said he didn't understand police had told Campbell to come outside, that Campbell was following orders that had been given by other police at the time. Officer James Quackenbush had previously texted Campbell with messages that read, "Aaron, we need to know if you intend on hurting yourself," prior to the shooting. His girlfriend, Angie Jones, and her three children had come out of the Sandy Terrace apartment where Campbell had been, saying she was ready to "walk away" from what was happening as long as officers could get Campbell to promise he wasn't going to hurt himself.
These are the newspaper headlines in Portland today about the details of the shooting of Aaron Campb...
These are the newspaper headlines in Portland today about the details of the shooting of Aaron Campbell, an unarmed, African American man..
Campbell responded to Quackenbush, according to the Oregonian report of the documents' details, "Never. Wow you guys text too. You get kudos." This was said to put officers in a relaxed mood, while some of them stood in the parking lot with a high-powered rifle as well as a beanbag shotgun and a dog. They had no idea of what had been communicated between Campbell and Quackenbush and had misread Campbell's actions at the time he was shot.
Jesse Jackson arrived in town yesterday to meet with Mayor Sam Adams and Chief of Police Rosie Sizer, both of whom defended the Police Bureau's practices. Jackson spoke at a Northeast Portland church last night about the incident regarding the shooting of Campbell and is scheduled to speak in Pioneer Square in the downtown area of Portland on Thursday afternoon. Many people at the rally today spoke of the need to remove Adams from office.
Today's rally brought Portland to a renewed awareness of problems they say have lurked just below the surface, in neighborhoods where incidents between police and African Americans have taken place. But it hasn't just been incidents occurring between people of color and the police that have upset folks in Portland. Ordinary citizens talk how police abuse has occurred in poor neighborhoods of poor whites and Hispanics as well. The death of Campbell, however, was dramatic enough to arouse people across racial, social and economic lines to speak up about problems that they say have gone on far too long. Folks from all walks of life see the problem as a human one, not just a problem of color, involving those who are profiled because of dress, manner, color, and for just being poor and lost. But African-Americans remain the ones targeted the most, according to protesters today and columnists who have written their opinions in Portland's daily newspaper.
One mother wrote an Op-Ed inthe Portland Oregonian on February 14 about how mothers of black men feel when they read about a young black man shot in the back with a rifle. While injustices were particularly awful in the past, they remain in many ways, according to Lisa MCall, the mother who wrote the Op-Ed, who declares,
"No black mother can read about this case without worrying that her son could be the next victim." And she wonders if the officer would have reacted in the same way if the young man shot was white.
Anna Griffin's commentary in the Metro section of the Oregonian today titles her thesis, "Leaders ignore their duties until crisis hits." She mentions in her article how once-Mayor Tom Porter waited nearly a week to talk about how another man who was mentally ill died in police custody four years ago and how gang warfare erupted last winter and the police commisioner had to be prodded to say anything beyond formal written comments. Mayor Sam Adams, Griffin pointed out, answered with only seven lines on his Web site the grand jury's opinions about the January 29 death of Aaron Campbell that blamed police error for what happened. Griffin maintains it takes a major crisis and a major shake-up, like a visit from Jesee Jackson, to get civic leaders to pay attention to what Griffin maintains is the bigger problem: a civilian oversight system which is broken.
At the Wednesday rally in downtown Portland Dr. Haynes and Reverend Wells, two well-known African American leaders in Portland, reminded the people of the city of past and present hurts, while protestors joined in the chorus of shouts about wanting justice now.
Dr. Hayes is shown here at a protest in downtown Portland over the killing of an unarmed man by poli...
Dr. Hayes is shown here at a protest in downtown Portland over the killing of an unarmed man by police during an incident in Portland.
Portland is the kind of town, people say, that isn't afraid to show its dirty laundry publicly. But then it shakes that laundry out, tries cleaning it, then walks around proudly saying, "At least we're trying to do the right thing here."
The town where protest is accepted as part of the culture, according to people who make Portland their home, finds this new protest about police abuse as part of the ever-growing, ever-expanding, every-moving story that is Portland. These images and interviews tell the story today of how people from all walks of life joined to protest the death of a young man in the hope that new laws may be enacted and deaths like that of Campbell might not occur again.
Digital Journalist Forsloff is shown here talking with protestors during a rally against police abus...
Digital Journalist Forsloff is shown here talking with protestors during a rally against police abuse in Portland
Del Forsloff
People are seen here on their march to City Hall to meet with Mayor Sam Adams to protest the shootin...
People are seen here on their march to City Hall to meet with Mayor Sam Adams to protest the shooting of Aaron Campbell on January 29.
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