Hi. My name is Eli and I am a member of Rose City Copwatch. Thank you to everyone who came out today. And thank you to Everyday People for organizing this important event and providing this space to speak.
I want to talk about apples. Bad apples. That stem from a rotten tree.
I also want to take time to remember. I want to remember Jose Mejia, and unarmed Latino man killed by Portland police inside a mental hospital in 2001. I want to remember Kendra James, an unarmed African American Woman slain by police in her car in 2003. I want to remember James Jahar Perez, an unarmed African American man also murdered by police in his car a year later. I want to remember that the cops who murdered these people faced no meaningful repercussions; most continue to wander our streets with guns and badges. I want to remember that the best response the Police and City Government have for these tragedies are endless committees. That they refuse to recognize the grossly disproportionate stops of people of color as racial profiling. That they address such concerns by targeting people of color to join the force to do the exact same brutal job.
I want to remember James Chasse, an unarmed man beaten to death by a gang of cops, including Chris Humphreys. Yes, the same Chris Humphreys who fired a less-lethal shotgun at a young African American girl on the MAX in December. The Portland Police Association thought a paid vacation was too harsh a punishment for him, so hundreds of cops took to the streets under the banner “I am Chris Humphreys.” I want to remember that while some may see Chris Humphreys as one of the baddest apples, Portland’s police see themselves in him.
I want to remember the daily injustices that don’t make the news. Police crouched at the side of the road or at the MAX stop, waiting for the next person who is driving, riding or walking while brown. Police turning our migrant friends and neighbors over to Homeland Security for deportationn. Police pat downs and searches that turn to groping and assault.
And yes, I want to remember Aaron Campbell. To remember those terrifying moments when we are desperate to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Those moments when we deserve real help. I find hope in the times when we call our friends, families and neighbors to resolve conflicts, instead of the cops. I find hope when we come together like this to address real safety concerns in our communities. And I know we are far from having the solutions to many of the crises we face. But we, as everyday people who care for each other, are our only hope for creating these solutions. We have to give up on apples. The tree is deadly.