Keaton Otiss father talks with Rep Lew Frederick after an emotional testimony
  • Keaton Otis's father talks with Rep Lew Frederick after an emotional testimony
About 150 punks, advocates and white collar folks filled First Unitarian Church last night for a public forum on police accountability that turned into a very heavy reflection on the policies and environment that led to the deaths of Aaron Campbell and Keaton Otis. Both young, African-American men were killed during officer-involved shootings this year.

The Albina Ministerial Alliance called the forum in response to the death of Otis and Alliance member Reverend Doctor LeRoy Haynes kicked off the night with a fiery speech calling Portland to action. "We stand at a crossroads of community police relations in this town," said Haynes. "The status quo will not stand."

Former Director of Oregon Action Joanne Bowman graphically described Otis's death. "They shot him over 30 times and when they were done shooting him, they shot him with the beanbag and the taser and then they left his body in the street, uncovered, for six hours," said Bowman.

The public testimony at the end of the evening was marked by several anarchists' exhortations to "take down the pigs", but the discussion took a deep and somber turn when Marva Davis, the mother of Aaron Campbell, rose from the crowd to speak. She told the audience, which included no identified government or police officials except NE Portland State Representative Lew Frederick, that after Aaron's death, her other son had been followed and harassed by police.

"I have a 28 year old who is a hardworking citizen, he was being followed by the police," said Davis. She said her son had been driving around their neighborhood when he noticed a police car following him. He stopped and got out at a park, hung out in the park for half an hour and when he returned to her car, says Davis, the police were waiting. "They said, 'Hey, we want to talk to you, you look suspicious.'" The police searched him and his car and then asked, according to Davis, "Were you related to the barbecue Campbell?" "That could mean a couple things," said Davis, "It could mean, were you related to the family who runs the barbecue place, or it could mean, the Campbell who was burned."

A few minutes later, Fred, the father of Keaton Otis, rose and identified himself. He had trouble speaking to the crowd, taking long pauses to collect himself. Though slow, his voice was steady and powerful as he spoke. "I've lived here all my life, 50 years. And enough is enough. Every time somebody goes, it affects so many people. You know, somehow our people are in a lottery we didn't buy a ticket for," said Keaton's father. "I want to do for the rest of my life what I want to do to get this stuff stopped."

His words stopped the discussion, as the moderator called for 30 seconds of silence to let the words sink in. Outside in the hall, Frederick shook the man's hand.

Update 5/24 The family of Keaton Otis has requested a clarification. The man who identified himself at the forum as Keaton's father is Keaton's biological father, but Keaton was adopted when he was five and raised by his mother and stepfather. The family says that, unlike Fred, they are not upset at the police. Read their statement on the shooting here.