When you pay your taxes, how do you imagine those dollars work for you? Paving over a pothole? Fixing up the neighborhood firehouse? Opening a new bed at a shelter?
Of course, there’s another unproductive place your taxes will be going: paying victims of police brutality. Whenever you read about a verdict in the newspaper — of the $1.6 million given to the family of James Chasse, Jr. in 2010, or the $562,000 given to Jason Cox in 2014, – that money is coming straight from the taxpayers’ pockets. You pay whenever the police brutalize someone. That’s why it is imperative that we vote for Measure 26-217 this November, to create a truly independent police accountability board that will oversee discipline and policy changes. The best part? The board will be made up of community members historically affected by overpolicing.
An article published this morning in the Oregonian by Aimee Green describes the three most recent lawsuits filed by protestors or bystanders assaulted by police.
Kafoury & McDougal is representing Erica Christiansen, a 28-year-old Portland native who graduated from St. Mary’s Academy High School in downtown. On the night of August 9th, she was visiting a friend’s apartment in NE Portland while a protest was occurring at a park nearby. She did not participate in the protest. Nearly a dozen police vehicles and over twenty police officers parked just outside the building. Erica and other neighbors shouted at the police to leave the neighborhood. One officer singled Erica out, mocked her, tripped her to the ground, and then fired five bullets at her at point-blank range as he stood over her. The powdered metal bullets struck her in the breast, groin, hip and upper thigh, each penetrating her skin causing deep bruising and bleeding.
At this close of a range, the shots could have destroyed one of her eyes, shattered her teeth or fractured her skull. Donavan La Bella was nearly killed in July when shot in the head with the same type of bullet from across a street.
The officer then ignored her screams of pain and walked away. Of the twenty-plus officers there, not one intervened to stop him. Not one offered aid or assistance afterwards as she lay bleeding on the ground.
Cale Josephs, a 21-year old Montana resident, was singled out, arrested, and interrogated by police for over three hours. The reason? He yelled at a group of nearby officers. Josephs is represented by Portland Attorney Neal Weingart.
Amanda Lundbom, 37, had her car towed by police under false pretenses, according to her lawyer Vivien Lyon. Lundbom would hand out water to protestors. Her car was towed due to being parked illegally, yet Lundbom alleges her parking job was perfectly legal. She was not given any information on retrieving her car, with her wallet and house keys inside, and still has not gotten it back after more than two weeks.
We demand accountability for the PPB. Measure 26-217 offers a chance for the communities most affected by overpolicing to make the police work for them. Remember, every time a police officer is forced to pay big dollars in a brutality lawsuit, you foot the bill. Every time a police officer shoots an innocent person, you pay the price. Vote Yes to say you want your tax dollars to work for you.