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Friday, May 3, 2013

Vigil on Sunday Marks 10 Years Since Police Shooting of Kendra James

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Fri, May 3, 2013 at 4:29 PM

Kendra James
Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the police shooting of Kendra James, a 21-year-old woman killed by Officer Scott McCollister—and a death that helped galvanize the police accountability movement in Portland as we know it today.

To mark the occasion and reflect on how far the city and police bureau have come since then—and how far they haven't—advocates are planning a vigil that night near the spot where James was killed.

Here's a release from the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform:

On Sunday, May 5, the Albina Ministerial Alliance (AMA) Coalition for Justice and Police Reform will lead a memorial vigil for Kendra James, the young woman killed by Officer Scott McCollister exactly 10 years ago on the Skidmore overpass in Portland. The memorial will be held outside the Greater Faith Baptist Church at 931 N Skidmore, just yards away from the spot where McCollister discharged his pistol at James, who was behind the wheel of a car. The vigil will begin at 5 PM. Members of James' family will be in attendance.

Despite McCollister's claims that he "feared for his life," the AMA Coalition presented a detailed analysis that McCollister was not in any danger, knew who the unarmed Kendra James was and could have found her even if she had driven away, and raised serious questions about whether he had collaborated with the other officers on the scene by meeting at a restaurant to get their stories straight before they talked to investigators. McCollister was given 180 days' suspension, but that discipline was overturned by an arbitrator after the Portland Police Association grieved the action.

"The Kendra James case was a key to opening the movement towards bringing justice and police reform in the City of Portland," said Dr. LeRoy Haynes, Jr, Chair of the AMA Coalition. Many in Portland who saw the shooting of an unarmed African American woman as a symptom of a Police Bureau needing major reforms. In many ways her death led the accountability efforts down the path to the changes now being sought as a remedy by the Department of Justice in their lawsuit against the City.

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