This afternoon, the Albina Ministerial Alliance hosted a press conference and protest march outside city hall in opposition to Friday's recommendation by a state arbitrator that the Portland Police Bureau reinstate Ron Frashour—the Portland police officer who shot and killed unarmed Aaron Campbell in 2010.
The press conference was preceded and followed by a march circling the sidewalks city hall, uniting Occupy protesters, AMA members and other unhappy community members with shouts of "Hey hey ho ho Frashour has got to go!" Backed by shouts of "Murderer!" and "Cops lie, people die!" a handful of outraged community leaders took to the microphone on the steps of city hall. Their words were harsh, almost incendiary, and they came amid calls for the federal Justice Department to step in—even though the DOJ passed on such an opportunity last year.
"This decision is outrageous," said the Reverend LeRoy Haynes, spiritual leader of the AMA. "This sends a message to the community that no officer who shoots an unarmed citizen will be held accountable by our justice system." Haynes said that the AMA supports the city's intention to challenge the arbitrator's decision and will press the police bureau, city council and justice system until they hold Frashour accountable. "We will not go away," Haynes promised.
Former Oregon state legislator and longtime police accountability advocate Jo Ann Hardesty emceed the rally, transitioning between speakers with shouts of "What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!" and predicting a "long hot summer" if justice is not served (triggering winces from some of Mayor Sam Adams' staffers, who were out among the crowd).
Campbell's stepfather, John Davis, also spoke out against the arbitration, calling the decision "one-sided." "I'm not against police officers, not against unions," said Davis. "But we need righteous action from all sides involved."
Tom Steenson, the attorney who helped Campbell's family win a $1.2 million settlement from the city in February, also took to the mic, calling for an immediate police bureau intervention from the department of justice. "What we have is a police training division comprising on members of the union," Steenson said. "I have realized that there is no way for the Bureau or the city to control the union anymore."
Occupy Portlanders made up a portion of the sign-toting crowd, declaring that "this is our issue" and that Portlanders occupy police stations, city hall and other public areas until a change is made.
Following the press conference, Mayor Sam Adams said that he and city officials are currently looking at their options when it comes to making a formal appeal and should have a cemented decision in a matter of days. "There is nothing so far in the arbitrator's review that causes me to change my initial point of view," said Adams.