On 20 July, 2013, Jo Ann Hardesty helped organize and lead the Portland, Oregon response to nation-wide umbrage that Florida prosecutors were unable to bring a conviction in the homicide of Trayvon Martin. David Sarasohn, a managing editor at the Oregonian made a pithy comment about the role of racial profiling: “Before you get to the readiness to fire, you have to start with the readiness to follow.”
In her speech, posted by video-journalist Hart Noecker here, Jo Ann makes reference to page 84 of the OIR Report. City consultants reviewed public records and condensed terminology Portland Police Officers used prior to intervening in the life of Keaton Otis.
Like the Trayvon Martin case, Otis was observed wearing a hoodie. Like the Portland Police homicide of James Jahar Perez (who represented, at his 2003 death, the third annual killing of an unarmed African American in Portland) the victim was operating a car deemed inappropriate for such a driver. City consultants record officer observations of bad posture, and evil glances. They report officers declaring “he looked like he could be a gangster,” and share with readers police seeming to intercept Otis’ self talk (as the HEAT Team closes the gap with multiple vehicles):
“A look from Mr. Otis that seemed to say, “do they know what I know?” and suggested to the officer that Mr. Otis may have just committed a crime.”
At this point we have descended into the absurd. It’s shocking that the consultants aren’t shocked. The OIR report seems the product of dutiful typists, refusing to embrace the implications of what they’ve copied and pasted. Three years after the inciting homicide, we’re reviewing cooked-up rationalizations elicited more that 48 hours after the killing. And yet … they are telling disclosures.
It would seem quite plausible for consultants to report, “Hoodie, slouching, driving a car above his station in life, mean looks and thinking bad thoughts? We believe Portland Police, as well as a majority of voters in the nation’s fifth-whitest city, equate ‘black’ with ‘criminal proclivity.’ This is not the case. Mr. Otis had no criminal record. He had no links to gang involvement. All of these pretexts indicate racial profiling. The results demonstrate these observations and subsequent decisions were not good police work.”
Consultants made no such pronouncement. They pivot to Otis – with the HEAT unit on him like a drone missile – brought on his self-destruction by then driving erratically. They follow an absolute lack of concern for racial profiling with a pronouncement that police have more to do, to convince an indignant community about the rightness of police conduct. They conclude by reiterating and holding as effective, what the DoJ – after an actual investigation, termed a ‘self-defeating accountability system.’
Consult Hardesty has taken a comprehensive approach to multi-jurisdictional flaws that allow racial profiling to fester. We initiate public dialogue to inform community members about faulty information which leads to poor policy implementation. Having been actively involved in the development of a Police Plan to Address Racial Profiling, we know it’s main provisions have never been implemented. Feet on the ground, we bring to the conversation cogent arguments that consultants – reading the paper trail from a distance – will never arrive at.
What follows are some of the tools we employ, in seeking to use the death of Keaton Dupree Otis to galvanize community participation in a remedy to police violence.
Please print the above file and distribute leaflets at events. You can help draw attention to the lack of an investigation into the killing of Keaton Dupree Otis, and to direct the public to the Justice for Keaton Otis page on facebook.
Detailed information is available from this site: http://justiceforkeatonotis.wordpress.com
The leaflet has been designed for two-sided printing.