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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

On the Record with the Racial Profiling Retreat

Posted by Matt Davis on Tue, Jun 10, 2008 at 5:25 PM

Having involved the Mercury's lawyers to get access to the mayor's racial profiling committee retreat at the Double Tree hotel today and tomorrow, damn right I was planning to get my money's worth by LIVE BLOGGING (TM) it. The problem is, I swear, that doing so would be like live blogging paint dry. So I guess I'll give you periodic round-ups, instead. That's very different from LIVE BLOGGING (TM). Trust me. It's like serving you a Pepsi, as opposed to a Big Gulp.
doubletreehotel.jpg
DOUBLETREE HOTEL: Site of Portland's racial reconciliation between the community and the police?

I'm starting to think one of the reasons such effort was gone to to keep the meeting secret was to save journalists and members of the public from dying of boredom. Maxine Bernstein from the Oregonian is also on the sign-up sheet, but appears to have given up and gone home. After 18 months of meeting, the racial profiling committee is yet to come up with a plan to eliminate the practice. Today, and tomorrow, they are now trying to figure out ONE THING they can accomplish over the next year. The committee agreed, during its brainstorming session this afternoon, that it needs to make "concrete decisions." It needs to have some "tangible things [it] can achieve." During its brainstorming. Do you hear where I'm going with this? Still. The meeting setting is pretty nice. There's even a "breakstation" with free beef jerky, coffee, and ice cream. icecreams.jpg
FREE ICE CREAM: Sure beats accomplishing anything...

Tomorrow morning, the committee is going to watch a film called Race: The Power of Illusion. Then it's going to have a large group discussion about how its work is affected by "the larger context in society." After that, it will set its priorities and outcomes for the next six to twelve months, then identify some specific actions for its subcommittees to work on during that time.

Notably, cop union boss Robert King is not here. Probably because he's likely to object to anything that gets decided, policy-wise. The mayor's public safety policy director Maria Rubio is sitting near Jane Ames, who will essentially take over her role when Sam Adams becomes mayor. Adams has already said he's frustrated with the progress of the committee.

At 5pm, Facilitator Kristin Lensen is talking about having closed meetings to train community members and police in having small group dialogs around race. "These are not public meetings," she's saying. They're closed, small community meetings, "it would be private, it would be small group, it would be practiced..."

Hello...the problem with that will be: if the work is sponsored by the Racial Profiling Committee, it's most likely required to be held in public. What is Lensen suggesting by privatizing these meetings? That police officers will suddenly become comfortable voicing racist perspectives without the press there? That in small groups, police and members of the public suddenly forget who they are and what they do for a living?

"You need to believe something's possible in order to see the progress," says Lensen.

No. I need to see the progress, before I can believe something's possible. And that's the committee's what the taxpayers' money is paying for. Right?

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