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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Emails: Equity Office Told Police Captain Not to Attend Ceremony Only Hours Before It Started

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Tue, Aug 6, 2013 at 4:23 PM

An Office of Equity and Human Rights staffer told Portland Police Captain Mark Kruger not to show up for a public awards ceremony just hours before the July 26 event was set to begin, according to emails (here and here) obtained by the Mercury in a public records request.

Ronault LS Catalani, who also goes by Polo, emailed Kruger a little after 9 pm on Thursday, July 25, and mentioned that "one of our important community partners" had raised "some serious concerns" about Kruger and his record.

Catalani's email didn't get into those issues, but it did include an apology for the "short notice" of the request. It was followed a few minutes later by an update to Equity Director Dante James. Catalani wrote he tried calling Kruger and new East Precinct Commander Sara Westbrook but that he didn't copy James on the email to Kruger because he wanted to "keep this talk contained until we have a better set of facts."

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Kruger, back in 2010, was suspended for building a shrine to Nazi Germany soldiers and faces a fresh investigation of retaliation after he was cleared in a recent harassment complaint. He was due to receive an award for his work helping welcome recent immigrants to the police bureau's East Precinct.

The Oregonian first reported that Kruger was asked not to show up. The Office of Equity formally apologized yesterday but declined to identify the person who complained about Kruger.

So how did Kruger respond to Catalani's request? Calmly—and without any questions.

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Catalani apologized one more time—but this time with no reply from Kruger.

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The emails go on to confirm that Mayor Charlie Hales' office was briefed on the situation and that the police bureau was taken a bit by surprise, but they don't include any reference to Hales' office interfering. His office has said he has no comment. The emails also show that Hales' office and the police bureau both signed off on the apology sent out Monday morning and that the Equity office decided not to put a statement out on Friday, lest they be accused of burying the news.

James and his spokesman, Jeff Selby, closely watched the reaction to the O's story the following Monday and subsequent headlines. At one point they wondered if the story by Maxine Bernstein would be good or bad.

"Uh, is that good or bad? What does it help, or which way I wonder," James wrote after Bernstein thanked Selby for providing details on the award Kruger would have received at the ceremony if he'd been allowed to attend.

Selby had a reply: "She's inscrutable!"

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