The city's Office of Equity and Human Rights has apologized after asking a Portland police captain—Mark Kruger, previously suspended for curating an illegal shrine to Nazi Germany-era soldiers on Rocky Butte—to stay away from a public ceremony last month where he and dozens of other city employees would have been feted for their work helping immigrants.
The equity office issued the apology in a statement this morning. It said the office had sought to heed the concern of a "community opinion leader" who had gotten in touch with equity staffers and told them about Kruger's controversial history. Beyond the Nazi-era shrine, he's been involved in a harassment case against a former subordinate, facing accusations of retaliation after he posted a letter from the city clearing him of the charges. That case, because of text messages mocking Kruger as a Nazi, ended the police career of one of Police Chief Mike Reese's best friends and top confidants.
“Postponing the award presentation to Capt. Kruger was my judgment call based on the last minute concern of a respected community leader. It was ultimately not the right decision,” said Dante James, OEHR Bureau Director. “Any concerns about his past should be addressed in a separate venue. We will recognize Capt. Kruger for his current work and dedication to our city’s immigrant and refugee community with our apologies for the delay.”
Kruger, recently working at as a captain in East Portland, a landing spot for many of the city's new immigrants, had been scheduled to receive his "We Are Portland" award July 26. The equity office's apology says Kruger "fostered working relationships" with immigrant groups and leaders and participated in orientation and public safety programs designed to build trust between cops and newly arrived immigrants.
"The programs brought 40 refugee tenants with critical residence and neighborhood livability issues into the East Precinct for trainings on Oregon tenant rights, crime prevention, and law enforcement services," the statement says.
Equity office spokesman Jeff Selby declined to identify the "community opinion leader" whose call spurred the move. The Oregonian first reported that Kruger had been asked to stay away last week. Kruger is now expected to receive his award August 13. Kruger was moved from the bureau's East Precinct last month and now leads the bureau's drugs and vice division.
Mayor Charlie Hales oversees both bureaus. I've emailed his spokesman asking whether Hales or anyone on his staff played any role in James' apology.
Update 3:30 PM: Hales' spokesman, Dana Haynes, says the office was "briefed on this" but that Hales has been out of town. "He has no comment on this."