Kathryn Cates of the Fire Frashour campaign, amid a horde of news cameras.
  • Denis C. Theriault
  • Kathryn Cates of the Fire Frashour campaign, amid a horde of news cameras.
In a few hours, we might learn whether the city's contentious contract talks with the Portland Police Association will, in fact, be shunted behind closed doors of if there's a modicum of hope they might remain out in the open. The city will decide whether to accede to the union's call for mediation after a closed-door session this afternoon.

But if you ask the folks from the Fire Frashour campaign—the group that sprung up to demand the firing of Ron Frashour, the officer who shot and killed Aaron Campbell in January—the outcome is hardly in doubt. Expect things to stay in the dark—along with discussions about drug-testing and whether the union should submit to a stronger regimen of civilian oversight.

"We have no idea: Are these kinds of problems actually going to be addressed?" asked group member Kathryn Cates, after reading prepared statement.

With placards in hand, a dozen or so members of the group staged a mini-rally on the steps of the Justice Center this morning, speaking out about the cop union talks; Friday's latest police shooting, in which Darryel Dwayne Ferguson was killed; and even on whether Frashour, who indeed was fired last month, might win his job back through arbitration.

(The Fire Frashour campaign is apparently keeping its name, assuming an arbitrator at some point really will put him back on the force.)

It was mostly TV cameras and reporters who gathered to listen. Click through to read Cates' statement.

On Friday, December 17, the Portland Police shot and killed Darryel Ferguson as he stood in the doorway of his apartment holding a toy gun. Early reports suggest that Ferguson was seeking to defend his family from an aggressive neighbor, and did not realize that it was the police at the door. If so, then it seems the police resorted to force where none was necessary and did not even attempt to de-escalate the situation. The cops' handling of this incident showed a reckless disregard for the safety of Ferguson, his family, his neighbors, and in short, anyone besides the police themselves. The cops seem paranoid about their own safety and utterly indifferent to the safety of the public.

We're here today to say that, in addition to the individual officers and the Police Bureau itself, the Portland Police Association also bears responsibility for Ferguson's death.

The November 2010 issue of the Portland Police Association's newsletter, the Rap Sheet, reprinted an essay saying that police departments should "reward aggression", and specifically encouraging the cops to use their firearms rather than lower levels of force. This sort of article contributes to an environment of hostility toward the public and the "shoot first and ask questions later" attitude that, in the last year, has led to the deaths of Aaron Campbell, Jack Collins, Keaton Otis, and now Darryel Ferguson.

In each of these cases, the Police Association has defended the officers who killed Portland residents unnecessarily. The PPA is now doing much the same thing in contract negotiations with the city. They are seeking to further insulate the cops from any accountability or meaningful oversight.

The city government, Police Chief Mike Reese, and Mayor Sam Adams also bear their share of responsibility as well. Because of public pressure Reese has rightly fired officer Ronald Frashour for shooting Aaron Campbell in the back. However we fully expect Frashour will be reinstated under arbitration. This seems to be exactly what Adams and Reese want. Despite repeated calls from the community to renegotiate the arbitration clause of the PPA contract, the city so far has made no effort to raise the issue in negotiations.

Even worse, despite the recent shooting, the city is still closing the Police Association negotiations to the public. At the PPA's request, the city replaced today's public negotiations with a closed-door "mediation" session. By agreeing to remove the negotiations from public scrutiny, the city negotiators are colluding with the PPA to preserve the cops' impunity.

It is for these reasons that we are repeating our demands: We demand the firing all killer cops. We demand that the Police Association contract negotiations be open to the public. And, we demand an end to mandatory arbitration in the Portland Police Association contract.