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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Police Oversight Agency Will Review Cops' Handling of Hip-Hop Scene

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Tue, Mar 4, 2014 at 4:44 PM

Fallout from a police action during a highly anticipated hip-hop show Saturday at the Blue Monk Bar was felt immediately when Illmaculate, the last performer on the bill, refused to take the stage and promised he’d never perform in Portland again.


But days later, the fallout is still piling up. Even at city hall.

Just before Illmaculate (real name Gregory Poe) appeared alongside a police spokesman on OPB’s Think Out Loud to talk about what's generally seen as an uneasy relationship between the city's cops and hip-hop scene, the city’s Independent Police Review (IPR) Division made an announcement of its own.

The agency, whose civilian investigators normally react to misconduct complaints, said it's planning an independent “review of the Portland Police Bureau’s policies and procedures that relate to its interactions with hip-hop music events and venues. IPR staff members will conduct interviews with members of the community, music industry, and the Police Bureau. When IPR’s review is complete, it will issue a public report.”

Mayor Charlie Hales’ office followed with a statement of its own, as reported by the Skanner, saying this issue was already on Hales’ radar screen and will remain there.

Members of the mayor’s staff have been working on this topic for some time now, and met with industry representatives on Monday for our own education and information gathering, in an effort to ensure that all fans have an opportunity to enjoy any music in a safe, comfortable atmosphere. Mayor Hales supports a review of police procedures in this area, which was announced today by the Independent Police Review.

All of this comes after the bureau acknowledged, to reporters on Monday and again on OPB this afternoon, that the whole thing at the Blue Monk started because gang officers were worried about the performer leading off the bill: Mikey Vegaz. Sergeant Pete Simpson says Vegaz (real name Eddie Bynum Jr.) is "known" to members of the bureau's Gang Enforcement Team and was inside a recording studio that was the target of a gang-related shooting last month.

“I’m not a gang member,” Vegaz told the Oregonian in a story posted yesterday. “Do I have ties to gangs because I was born and raised in Northeast Portland? Are they saying because I’m black I have gang ties?”

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