How It Goes

Once you’ve been racially harassed by a Portland police officer in the second decade of the so-called twenty-first century of the Common Era, and harassed not once but repeatedly, and not at all privately but before a witness and in the course of his official duties,

and you bring this brutality to the attention of the authorities, here, in Portland, Oregon, here is how it goes.

You appear, by appointment, at the so-called Independent Police Review any you say you’ve been insulted six ways from Sunday by Officer [let’s call him] A.  Unbeknownst to you racial profiling has been adopted as the Euphemism of the Month of the bureaucracy, and your initial interview comes to a close without you having pronounced the words “racial” and “profiling” aloud, conjoined, and in that order.

That the so-called Independent Police Review folks later used that fact to deny the need even to investigate this patently obvious case of it, tells you all you need to know about Just Us in this Amerikan provincial version of a nominally progressive metropolis in a deteriorating multi-national, “multi-cultural” Empire.

You are allowed, deep within the bowels of our bureaucratic barrow, to appeal, to something called the Citizen Review Committee; you do so; and then you learn the meaning of the phrase Speak Truth to Power among what Joe Walsh calls the “cocktail liberals” who staff the entrails of the Portland municipal offices.  The recent federal Department of Justice report on the unconstitutional conduct of the Portland police called the police review process in our city “Byzantine”, by which it said it meant “self-defeating”: but really we see a mental universe which prefers muttered, jumbled professions of goodwill to the drawing of logical conclusions.

The testimony of Officer A includes the fact that he implied you were a pimp, that you had just spoken a few seconds ago (when you greeted a woman who was a stranger to you) to one of your whores, that you smoke crack, and that you’re a parasite because your address is a subsidized apartment building.

White police officers talk like that only to black folk.

Remember, you were detained by a sworn officer of the Portland police in the first place, for jaywalking!  (When I was out bicycling with my teenaged son along the residential streets of Northeast Portland, telling him, as do I suppose parents of bicycling youths all over the world, to stop at stop signs even when no oncoming cars are visible, he answered that stop signs were never enforced in residential areas, “like jaywalking.”)  You walked across the street where there is no crosswalk, stoplight, or traffic control, is what you did; the charge was simply a means of hassling you.

You were stopped, you were insulted, you were given a run-around by the bureaucracy because you are black.  The so-called Independent Police Review, when asked to investigate by members of the Citizen Review Committee, answers with content-free objections: a) it’s hard to prove racial profiling charges; b) you didn’t initially claim you were the victim of racial profiling; c) since you have been charged with jaywalking, and are contesting the charge, the so-called Independent Police Review would interfere with the court proceedings if it investigated the charge of racial profiling.  As if piling up transparently bogus excuses changes the fact of the matter.

The members of the Citizen Review Committee, in their oral comments, criticize the decision of the so-called Independent Police Review to investigate the racially-based insults to which you were subjected, but then, after agreeing you have been insulted, uphold the decision not to investigate.  (Even if they had demanded an investigation, it would not have mattered — their Committee cannot give any directive to the so-called Independent Police Review panel.)

O.K.  So the appeal committee, toothless as it is, did vote to agree you’ve been insulted by a police officer (but not on the basis of your skin color: he just happened to insult you).  The following day Officer A is promoted, to sergeant.

Oh, you can complain.  You just have to realize that no one will act upon your complaint.  That’s just the way it is.

About M. Meo

Worked as translator, museum technician, truck lumper, lecture demonstrator, teacher (of English as a Second Language, science, math). Married for 25 years, 2 boys aged 18 & 16 (both on the Grant cross-country team). A couple of scholarly publications in the history of science. Two years in federal penitentiary, 1970/71, for refusing the draft.
This entry was posted in Empire, Inequality, Local government, Police, U.S. Constitution, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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