"There are many officers who do a fantastic job, a tremendous job," said the Reverend Doctor LeRoy Haynes, Vice President of the Albina Ministerial Alliance (AMA) this morning. "But there are some rotten apples that need to be exorcised from the Portland Police Bureau."
Haynes made the remarks at a rally this morning on the steps of the downtown justice center—the same steps taken over last week by 40 cops in response to Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman's suspension of their fellow Officer, Christopher Humphreys—for shooting a 12-year-old girl in the leg with a "less-lethal" beanbag shotgun.
"Although the 12-year old girl allegedly resisted the arresting officer, the close range use of a shotgun with a beanbag was an excessive and unnecessary use of extreme force," said Dr.T.Allen Bethel, President of the AMA. "However, we believe and strongly encourage all citizens to obey the law."
"Secondly, we believe Officer Humphreys' judgment in the recent James Chasse death, as well as other cases, demonstrates his inability to make reasonable judgments as a police officer," Bethel continued. "Third, we support civilian rule over the Portland Police Bureau through our elected commissioners and their appointed chief of police."
This morning's rally was explicitly organized by the AMA in response to yesterday's march by the police union on city hall. "The rally showed to us that if you wear blue, you'll be justified with any action that takes place," said Haynes. "Whether your action was just, or unjust. We understand that it's the union's job to advocate for its members. But we understand that there's a higher authority that calls for justice."
"There is a pattern here," Haynes continued. "From Kendra James, to Jahar Perez, to James Chasse, there's a pattern that Portland police officers are not being held accountable for using excessive or deadly force on citizens."
He said Humphreys could have deescalated his encounter with the 12-year-old, instead of indulging in an "excessive use of violence." "When you're circling somebody like prey, like you're getting ready to shoot a deer, something is wrong."
Newly selected North/[updated: NorthEast] Portland state representative Lew Frederick also showed up.
"Reverend Haynes said it best at the very end," he told the Mercury. "It's difficult to tell a group of 12-year-olds to trust the police officers they come in contact with, if this is the response that another 12-year-old gets."
"Deep down at the heart of this whole thing is the question of the spirit of the community," said Frederick. "And how the community feels in terms of whether it can trust the police. It's disturbing to see the kind of response we saw from some of the union yesterday—to not understand that sense of spirit in the community, and not understand the impact that the march and some of the comments yesterday may have had on people in the community."
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!