You want the whole truth, musseeyer — are you sure you can stand the truth (the whole truth, I mean)? Phonetically spelled, messieurs — the plural, even in English, of “Mister” — looks strange to you, don’t you see? It’s a wise schlemiel who retains a keen awareness of his own limitations.
For some weeks the Cascadia Chapter has put top priority on the Robert West Case being brought, 30 March 2016, before the so-called Citizens Review Committee here in River City. The Portland Mercury account is available, but this blog post is what I promised: the whole story.
Your Intrepid Reporter, secretary of the Cascadia Chapter of the Pacific Green Party of Oregon, has adjusted for the last month to the arrival of the live-in housekeeper at Chapter headquarters [2925 Northeast Weidler Street, Bump City (oh no, thass Oakland honey) 97232], which necessitated a increase in his daily cannabis intake, to the point where he suffered constipation (right. — as if they didn’t tell you about that), which will come up much later, even though you now regard it as an offense against journalism.
So in this condition and not particularly sober, Your Intrepid Reporter took on the extra-heavy food platter offered the members of the public attending CRC sessions: I put away five sandwiches (I suppose the munchies were involved in some way) and my Party comrade Herschel Soles had the good fortune to take the last one on the plate. Between the two of us the local Green Party chapter did justice to the bread part of the publicly-funded bread and circuses.
The meeting was called to order by the co-chair, one Ms Malone, promptly as scheduled, at 5:30 pm. It was convened in the auditorium of the so-called Portland Building, which bears over its front door this very large female extending her nurturing arms towards the indifferent passers-by. We are lucky to be able to ignore some really great art, just like the Europeans do.
Introductions took until 5:40 because, unlike the half-dozen habitual attendees, we had a crowd this time. The Chair (as I will in future refer to the polite, low-voiced — but not as low-voiced as Jim Young — Ms Malone) explained to the three-times larger than usual audience three rules: address only the chair, speak when it’s your turn, and make no personal attacks. All three were repeatedly violated. The meeting ended when a member of the public threw a glass of water on the aforementioned Committeemember, Mr Young.
But Your Intrepid Reporter likes to foreshadow his dénouement, so to speak; let’s just stick to the chronological narrative, at least for a while, shall we?
At 5:45 pm The Chair called upon the director of the Independent Police Review Division, independent because it acts under the authority of the City Auditors Office, but the arm of the police accountability system and hardly at odds with intelligent police management, to review the case for the record. Constantine Severe had called for the meeting, in an unusually sharply-worded letter to the Professional Standard Division —
no, I have no idea why one announces your decision to speed up the hearing on some case in the labyrinth of dead ends the federal Department of Justice has described as our “Byzantine” system of police accountability, to theProfessional Standards Division —
dated February 1st.
Additionally I was disappointed by the tone of the Police Review Board session in this case. The involved member’s superior officer Captain Mark Kruger behaved in a manner akin to a defense counsel for the officer as opposed to a neutral fact-finder.
Even more disturbing was Captain Kruger’s description of the Internal Affairs investigation as “pettifogging” and not worthy of an administrative investigation.
Captain Kruger’s behavior at the Police Review Board was hostile and combative. Captain Kruger [emphasis added — mm] was disrespectful to Internal Affairs and openly disdainful towards IPR.
There are aspects of this case that the Police Bureau can rightfully point to as progress in the right direction. When Assistant Chief Mike Crebs
Well I do run on, but the point is there is a context to the underlined phrase. In an inter-office memo made public the Director of the so-called Independent Police Review Board said that the Captain of the miscreant in this case showed open contempt for his office.
The appellant, reported the IPR Director, contacted his office on 23 October 2015. A Police Review Board hearing was held [Your Intrepid Reporter, if once he knew the date, has since lost the brain cell which held that unimportant fact in its hot little phospholipid semi-permeable membrane] the result with which the IPR disagreed, and said so — on 1 February, as noted above.
The Office then in conjunction with Robert West, the appellant, exercised his power to expedite the hearing by telling to Citizens Review Committee to schedule a hearing as soon as possible. This on 11 February 2016. Constantine Severe stopped talking.
The representative at the meeting (whose name a good reporter should have, enh) from the City Attorney’s office addressed us, and I think I ought to just note that she was quite certainly an attorney, and speaking on the record at a public meeting she was the City Attorney for all practical purpose and so Y.I.R. will refer to the woman as the City Attorney. Ahem. The City Attorney confirmed the fact of a right to record the actions of the police which take place in public.
At 5:55 an attractive black woman dressed like a model entered, and took her seat. She was later seen deep in conversation with longtime Portland Copwatch operative Dan Handelman.
Dan Handelman is an interesting guy, with lots of dedication at what he’s doing but . . well, let that rest.
At the first chance for members of the public to address the Committee my friend and political ally Joe Walsh spoke. I think it will be enough to say that Mr Walsh was upset at a number of things.
At 6:03 the president of the Portland Police Officers union spoke, and — let me just say this about unions, they are good in principle — oh, by the way his name is Darryl Turner, and he said that this hearing itself violated the regulations of due process. He said that the office of IPR had put in the expedition, well, the order of the expediting, on its own, which violated the requirement that the appellant request it.
At 6:11, at a request from Committee member Jim Young the City Attorney ruled the objection by Shop Steward Turner to be without merit.
Let’s dwell on that a moment. It’s Truth or Dare, folks, and the estimable Mr Turner made a statement that the process had been jiggled in favor of Robert West.
We are to assume, ladies and gentlemen, that the City Attorney would be impartial in any dispute, as there seems to have arisen here between two City departments, the IPR and the Portland police. The City Attorney is on the record — she is being filmed, for heavens’ sake, from four directions — and telling everyone present that the Shop Steward just lied.
At 6:25 pm there was unanimous agreement to move from discussion of the record of the appeal (talking about whether or not to talk) to consideration of the appeal itself.
At some point, right near the beginning of these considerations Jim Young stated as a fact agreed upon by all, that it “was obvious that the police officer “– whom I will term the Miscreant — “grabbed the camera”. Then they announced that the miscreant was not at the hearing and that Mr Turner would act as his representative,
[that is, you may recall, someone who minutes before had been shown to make stuff up]
so it looked rather like the police had no case.
At 6:40 the Appeal, properly considered, began.
At 6:42 the videotape of the miscreant grabbing Mr West’s camera was shown.
At 6:50 Robert West testified, emphasizing that he did nothing to precipitate the attack upon his camera lens.
Hey, Open and shut case, right?
Well, let’s hear the other side before we judge.
Under questioning Mr West turned out to have a channel of his own on YouTube, devoted to recording the coming and going of unmarked police cars. He spends three hours a day doing this. Let us imagine ourselves, dear reader, engaged in some nefarious activity or other, and consequently were in the course of this anxious to avoid observation by unmarked police vehicles. We could simply assign one member of our gang to watch Mr West’s video and when we were alerted that the correct car. . well, it’s a possible means of using the video for shall we say illegitimate activity.
At 7:01 Mr Young began his comment (yeah, here is where he said it was obvious).
At 7:01, 30 seconds the Chair asked Mr Joe Walsh to leave.
Asking Joe Walsh to leave a public meeting in Portland, shortly after he won a settlement regarding just that in federal court, well, it’s not a strategy with a significant chance of success.
At 7:02 the Chair announced a five-minute break. I’ll break the writing of this now, until later, kak poeziya tak istina. After all, the police chief [um, lessee it is now April 4th, at 6 pm] has just announced that he is requesting all of the officers under his command, because of the events of the Robert West hearing on 30 March, to boycott the proceedings of the Citizens Review Committee, so an accurate account of what happened at that hearing is surely of very little interest.
After the break we heard from the side requesting the exoneration of the miscreant. The first to speak was Shop Steward Turner, who simply repeated the officer’s unconvincing argument, that the officer, who got up out of his car and confronted the legally filming Mr West, “was protecting himself,” since putting your hand up when suddenly confronted with a foreign object pointed at you is ” a natural reaction”.
Committeemember questions for Turner were not supportive of his interpretation, to say the least. Was it professional for the police officer to grab a camera?
At 7:18 the officer supervisory of the miscreant, one Captain Mark Kruger, already mentioned in the letter of 1 February, proceeded to explain how the miscreant did nothing wrong.
The defense took the form of denial of fact. This is what the breakdown of republican form of government looks like, ladies and gentlemen, when the uniformed officer in the room cannot acknowledge the plain fact before everyone’s eyes, and the only defense of such conduct is to enlist mental Gehorsamkeit or what the late great English writer George Orwell called Doublethink.
“There is no evidence on the video that the officer grabbed the camera.” A roomfull of people, including the usually firmly police-friendly Committeemember Jim Young, have all of them agreed, pretty much, that the evidence does indeed show that the officer grabbed the camera. “I would have sustained if I believed the officer grabbed the camera.”
You do realize, dear reader, that from a contradiction it is completely logically allowed to derive, perfectly legitimately, any conclusion whatever? Anyone looking at the video will believe that the officer grabbed the camera; the conclusion is inescapable. Now the defense is to deny plain fact.
We will return to this defense in Jim Young’s defense of his vote.
At 7:28 Captain Kruger rested his defense stating that the miscreant’s conduct meets the definition of reasonable under any circumstances. The phrase, whether you dear reader realize it or not, was pregnant with meaning.
Poor Derek Rodrigues. He spoke next but, hey look what effect his speech had on the Mercury reporter:
Arguing for the bureau’s “not sustained” finding were Derek Rodrigues of the Professional Standards Division (edit: as Dan Handelman points out, Rodrigues actually agreed with Severe, and was not there to argue for Groshong like the two others), commander George Burke, and Kruger.
But Rodrigues, hapless Mercury reporter or no, put the nail into the coffin for the so far completely irrational defense of the miscreant. That is the City of Portland’s and the Portland Police Bureau’s sworn officer in charge of professional standards, the one (you may remember if you were elephantine in that regard) who received Constantine Severe’s memo of February 1st, opposed the exoneration of the miscreant on the basis that he clearly violated the standard of professional conduct expected of a police officer.
We have a video, which the defense denies, showing the miscreant grabbing the camera; now the City’s authority on expectations of police officers says it is obvious to him that these standards were violated, and he personally protested the Police Board finding (as had Severe, the IPR director). The defense is now obliged to deny that D. Rodrigues knows what he’s talking about.
Well that’s okay, the Mercury reporter didn’t even know whether he had supported the miscreant or not. So it didn’t matter, you see; the Police are always right. They never make a mistake. If they do, the mistakes “meet the definition of reasonable under any circumstances.” Like a composition by Richard Wagner, our little committee hearing had its themes.
An acting commander, one overweight and taciturn fellow named Burke, gave the view of the Police Department brass. He couldn’t tell whether the camera had been grabbed or not. I imagine he thought that was half-way, the balanced middle, between the entire rational populations’ He Obviously Grabbed It and Captain Kruger’s There Is No Evidence of a Grab. You know, like in an election between a declared fascist and a war-monger, choose the war-monger ’cause that’s the stable one.
I am making up neither the response of the good Commander (acting) Burke nor the argument put forward in favor of ex-Senator Clinton. I am indeed, however, pointing out that neither is a reasonable stance to take, under the circumstances. Like I said above, I tend to rattle on.
At 7:46 Jim Young asked whether Robert West had any reason to believe that the miscreant, driving away from a police station in a police vehicle, was engaged in police business.
IPR Director Severe answered that, from his point of view, it didn’t matter in the least whether Mr West had acted reasonably or not. Note the recurring theme of reasonableness. In other words, even if West was videotaping police cars driving in and out of a police station because little green men from Mars were telling him to, the Robert West case would be unaffected.
At 7:50 pm D. Rodrigues, not for the first time but again, and vehemently, denied the admissability into consideration of Captain Kruger’s claimed “frame-by-frame” examination of the video that showed the miscreant grabbing West’s camera. The implication was to cast doubt on its very existence: only Kruger had conducted this supposed survey, and had as a result produced no real documentation of what his intent was, his methods, or his result.
Is Kruger a rational person?
Can one deny palpable fact, and then say the authority for the department doesn’t know what a reasonable application of police standards is, and then invoke a non-existent study “frame by frame” of the video everyone knows shows the miscreant grabbed the camera, to prove that there is no evidence that he did?
Can one do all that and be regarded as rational?
At 8 pm, having completed its reception of testimony from the principals in the dispute, the Committee began its public consideration. This was followed by a final chance at public comment before the vote, and then a statement by West and then the vote.
The first to declare her opinion, and it was in West’s favor, was the young woman in a tightfitting dress. Jim Young opposed the appeal, that is, he was in favor of the miscreant getting away with harassment of a citizen engaged in lawful activity.
A third speaker said he’s undecided; a fourth was decidedly in favor of West. So far it was 2 yes, 1 no, 1 undecided.
At 8:08 pm Jim Young invoked the final defense of the police, the Get Out of Jail Free card in this little Monopoly game. He (accurately) reminded his fellow committeemembers that the city statute explaining the function of the Citizens Review Committee had directed them solely to consider whether a reasonable person could have ruled as the lower authorities — that is, the Internal Affairs Division and the Police Review Board — whether or not the CRC member agrees with the ruling.
Well hell, I think it’s damn near impossible to conclude that a rational person could not believe something. You ever hear of Darwinian evolution, mister? You know how many people in these here Yewnaighted Stayets just do not bee-leef they cum frum munkees?
Probably the majority. We could argue whether it’s 40 percent or 60 percent, it really doesn’t matter; are they all unreasonable? All those millions and millions? I’m sorry, I gotta point it out: the provably false can be believed by rational people. Okay? Are you okay with that?
Well, then, given that, why there’s no need, no need at all, don’t you see, for a Citizens Review Committee at all! Why none a-tall, yes-siree.
When the poor beaten-to-a-pulp citizen complains to the Citizen Review Committee and says he’s a victim of police brutality, and he is, but the police brass believes he is not, you are to vote in favor of the police brass because although their belief is false nonetheless it is the belief of a rational person.
Like I said before, the Police are always right.
Well, in this one instance, in this case, it didn’t go down. Captain Kruger was not only called a nazi pig at every chance, without the members of the public either waiting their designated time nor respecting the prohibition against personal attacks. I don’t know much more about Charles Johnson except that I’ve seen him at demonstrations on the streets, and he speaks more or less rationally. Just as Captain Mark Kruger does, incidentally. You cannot just look at either one and say they’re insane; personally, I think neither one is. But there was the usually as I said reasonable Charles Johnson getting a great thrill out of calling Kruger a Nazi pig.
Joe Walsh justs interrupts everybody. What he says in a raspy voice that sounds like he’s one step in the grave, actually makes a good bit of sense. Calling someone a pig. . .
I’d say Mr Johnson was stereotyping barnyard animals. If he had called Kruger Nazi horse or a Nazi cow he wouldn’t have offended. Yes, it’s time to liberate barnyard animals everywhere. “Beasts of England, beasts of Ireland, beasts of every land and clime. . .”
Where was I before the George Orwell tape began to play?
Oh yes. At 8:15 Dan Handelman spoke, but as is usually the case, I couldn’t understand his point. At 8:30 Nancy Newell gave an eloquent speech on behalf of Robert West’s case. I will spare you, as Your Intrepid Reporter was not, the interminable gassing that went on between 8:30 and 9. It seems Sturmkommondant Kruger had acted in fact irrationally enough for the vote to go in favor of West. Five to two. The Chair was particularly vehement in denouncing the police point of view.
Then the final public comment was allowed. Charles Johnson shamed himself by throwing a glass of water into Jim Young’s face. Here in Portland in 2016, acts of terrorism are conducted by the Left against conscientious volunteers in public service. Charles Johnson calling Mark Kruger a fascist barnyard animal and then throwing a glass of water in Jim Young’s face is
The Pot Calling the Kettle Black.
That’s the whole truth.
The following morning I had blood in my stool, which I consider is a small price to pay for a working digestive system. (ooh. symbolism)