ABOUT 300 PEOPLE piled into the Emmanuel Temple Church in North Portland on Friday night, March 5, to rally for police reform following the police shooting of Aaron Campbell on January 29.
The Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform announced its five demands earlier that day: seek a federal investigation of the Portland Police Bureau; strengthen the city's Independent Police Review division; a community review of the bureau's excessive force policies; a review of the law about deadly force; and the establishment of a special prosecutor for police excessive force cases at the district attorney's office.
The coalition includes groups like Portland Copwatch, Basic Rights Oregon, and the Mental Health Association of Portland.
"We have to make sure that the police are no longer an occupying force in our community," said State Representative Lew Frederick. "Because as an occupying force, they feel afraid and we feel afraid, and I've got to tell you I'm tired of feeling afraid.
"About a week ago I found myself in a conversation with 10 other legislators," Frederick continued. "A legislator from Eugene said, 'So Lew, what are we going to do about this situation with the police in Portland?'"
Frederick said the system of police investigations needs to be changed, along with training, psychological assessment, and testing officers for steroids—"because we know that's some of what's been going on here."
Frederick said several police officers have told him over recent weeks how much they regret Campbell's death, but that they're reticent to step forward because they're afraid the "rank and file" won't support them. He said he needed to have suggestions for reform bills on his desk by July, so that he can push for them to be adopted by various committees in the legislature in next year's session.
"How many times are you not going to follow the policies and procedures in your job, and yet keep your job?" asked Joyce Harris, with the African American Alliance, referring to police officers.
Campbell's mother, Marva Campbell-Davis, also addressed the crowd.
"I just want to say thank you to the community for coming together," she said. "And I hope more people will support this cause, because we all have loved ones, and we do not want to see this happen again. So let's work together."
Cash and check donations are being accepted by the coalition, which had over 700 fans on Facebook by press time.