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Office of Equity and Human Rights

Realizing Equity. Enhancing the City of Portland.

Phone: 503-823-4433

Fax: 503-823-4420

421 SW 6th Avenue, Suite 500, Portland, OR 97204

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(Printable Version)

Introducing Black Male Achievement Portland

We invite you to attend Black Male Achievement (BMA) Portland’s press conference on Monday January 26, 2015, at 12:30 p.m. on the site of the historic Self Enhancement Inc. Academy, located at 3920 North Kerby Ave. Mayor Charlie Hales will announce his and the City’s endorsement and introduce the BMA Steering Committee members, who will share details of the initiative.

The City of Portland was selected as one of 11 cities to participate in the National League of Cities’ Black Male Achievement Initiative to improve outcomes for Black men and boys. The BMA is designed to address four specific focus areas: Education, Employment, Family Stability, and Criminal Justice.

BMA Portland is an umbrella entity of over 20 organizations in the region represented by Black men that will act as convener, facilitator, policy guide, and collective voice to exert influence and push for change for the betterment of Black men and boys. A two-year process of community engagement and visioning was undertaken to gain feedback, clarity, and direction for the work.

Housed in the Office of Equity and Human Rights within Mayor Hales’ portfolio, BMA works with officials in Multnomah County government, as well as with for-profit and non-profit entities to create access to jobs and mentoring. 

Black Male Achievement Portland Steering Committee members are driven by a fierce urgency to create systemic change in local, county, and state government and beyond. BMA members have fresh approaches to move the needle in eliminating disparities between Black males and their peers.

Date: Monday, January 26, 2015

Time: 12:30 p.m.

Location: Self Enhancement Incorporated Academy

Address: 3920 North Kerby Avenue, Portland, OR 97227

We hope that you will be able to join us. Please forward this to others who may be interested in supporting this effort.


Black Male Achievement Portland Steering Committee

For more information please visit

City seeks members for DOJ settlement oversight board

The Portland Human Rights Commission and Portland Commission on Disability call for applications to the Community Oversight Advisory Board. 

Deadline: JANUARY 9, 2015

The Community Oversight Advisory Board (“COAB”) is the group of individuals who live, work, or go to school in Portland who will monitor the implementation of the City of Portland’s settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. The agreement calls for reform to Portland Police Bureau (PPB) policies and training, particularly related to interactions with people who have or are perceived to have mental illness. The COAB will be comprised of fifteen voting members and five advisory members from the Portland Police Bureau. The Compliance Officer Community Liaison (“COCL”) will chair the COAB and preside over COAB meetings.

The Portland Commission on Disability (PCOD) and the Portland Human Rights Commission (HRC) will jointly appoint three community members to this board who have mental health expertise. PCOD and HRC seek applicants who are Qualified Mental Health Professionals (“QMHP”) or persons with 10 years lived experience caring for their own or others’ mental illness.

For information and to apply please see:

Frequently Asked Questions may be found here:


You can find more information on the COAB in the Settlement Agreement here:

You can find more general information on the Settlement Agreement here:

Office of Equity and Human Rights Hosts City Discussion on Ferguson

December 8, 2014

PORTLAND - The Office of Equity and Human Rights hosted a lunchtime conversation among City of Portland employees on December 3, 2014. The focus of the discussion was the institutional aspect of the tragic events in Ferguson, Missouri.

As the discussion was unfolding, the New York Grand Jury decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo was announced. The office will host another discussion this Wednesday at noon in the Portland Building,  Room C. All employees are welcome to attend (feel free to bring your lunch).

The short video below shows highlights of the last session.

Dante James' letter to City officials regarding Michael Brown Grand Jury Decision

November 25, 2014

Good morning,

I feel compelled to write a note to those of us who are more connected to the work of racial equity than others. Last night’s decision was, and remains, difficult for many reasons, not the least of which is that a young man lost his life, and another’s will be forever changed. My concern is the potential that was lost from the beginning of Michael Brown’s life. Potential unavailable because of the history and present day oppressions and systems that make life difficult for many young Black men. My concern is that Michael Brown is being born every day, into the same systems and oppressions that make life difficult. My concern is that being a Black man, purely in and of itself, causes fear. My concern is that this will be a moment in time, not a movement, not a watershed moment that mandates the deconstruction of a system that is racist. The outcomes, the statistics, the deaths, the imprisonment, the inequality and inequity….. their stories are incontrovertible. Yet they don’t seem to be enough. What will be enough? 

All of that said, I have to believe that the work I do, the work we all do, is making a difference. I must believe it or I can’t keep doing it. We have seen change here within the city structure and institution of the City of Portland. Small change is still change. Small change adds up to larger change.  You, we, are making a difference. I am grateful for the work you do. Thank you.


Dante J. James, Esq.


Mayor makes equity a priority for Fiscal Year 2015-16 City budget

October 21, 2014

PORTLAND – Mayor Charlie Hales announced last week to City Bureau Directors that equity is one of three specific priorities in preparing the City’s Fiscal Year 2015-16 budget.

Hales said he will focus any new General Fund resources on requests that make measureable progress in one or more of the following areas:

  • Equity and Opportunity: bolstering economic and housing opportunity for all Portlanders, as well as equity in service delivery
  • Complete Neighborhoods: extending Portland’s vaunted livability to more areas of the City
  • Emergency Preparedness: equipping bureau operations and our citizens to better withstand a disaster

“I am excited and encouraged that Mayor Hales is prioritizing equity in the City’s budget process,” said Dante James, Office of Equity and Human Rights director. “Tying equity to City bureaus’ budgets ensures that leaders are considering the impacts of their programs and policies on all Portlanders. It’s another positive step to institutionalizing this work within Portland city government.”

Effective last fiscal year, bureaus are required to use a Budget Equity Assessment Tool developed by the Office of Equity and Human Rights in preparing their budgets. The tool guides bureau leaders and their Budget Advisory Committees to determine how budget requests or decisions benefit and/or burden communities, specifically communities of color and people with disabilities.

Portland’s Office of Equity and Human Rights provides education and technical support to City staff and elected officials, leading to recognition and removal of systemic barriers to fair and just distribution of resources, access, and opportunity; starting with issues of race and disability.

For more information, please contact Jeff Selby at

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Community members are encouraged to welcome visiting students at Africa House tomorrow

October 16, 2014

PORTLAND – Fifteen high school students from Ivory Coast, Congo, and Niger will be hosted by The Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization’s Africa House, The Office of Equity and Human Rights, and Portland Human Rights Commission tomorrow. The students are in Portland to learn about entrepreneurship and community service.

The public is invited to meet and welcome the students, and to share insight to Portland’s unique “do-it-yourself” business spirit and community service culture.

The event takes place tomorrow, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at IRCO Africa House, located at 631 NE 102nd Ave.

The students visited Grant High School today as part of their trip, organized by the U.S. State Department and World Affairs Council of Oregon. A scheduled visit to Jesuit High School was cancelled by the school out of concern for the Ebola Virus.

“While the fear of Ebola is understandable, these students have been screened by the Centers for Disease Control and are being monitored by the Multnomah County Health Department,” said Aimee Samara, Human Rights Commission chair. “It is important that we honor their human rights and support their international educational experience.”

The Human Rights Commission is guided by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, “Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.”

For more information, please contact Jeff Selby at

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Event to raise awareness of and funds for Ebola victims in Liberia and Sierra Leone

September 12, 2014 

PORTLAND – The Oregon Association for Liberia and Sierra Leone Community are organizing an event to raise awareness of the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa and to collect donations for the relief effort. The event takes place Friday, September 19, from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at First Unitarian Church, 1034 SW 13th Ave, Portland, OR 97205. Organizers will share insight on epidemic conditions in West Africa and hope to collect donations in kind (medical gloves and masks for medical personnel, for example) and financial donations to support Ebola victims and families in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

“The Ebola epidemic in West Africa is a global health issue,” said Koffi Dessou from the City of Portland Office of Equity and Human Rights. “This is an opportunity for city governments, county governments, Oregon communities, and international communities to come together to stop the spread of the virus and support the victims.”

According to Oregon Association for Liberia, doctors and nurses in the region were exposed to the deadly Ebola virus and are dying mainly due to insufficient medical protective gear, including gloves and masks. Although Doctors Without Borders is onsite and equipment is provided, the need is still huge and additional donations are necessary. An economic crisis has arisen from the epidemic as towns and rural areas now need money to buy bottled water to avoid contaminated sources.

Government agencies and community groups have come together to sponsor Friday’s event, including the Office of Equity and Human Rights, Multnomah County Health Department, Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO), Africa House, and First Unitarian Church.

For more information, please contact Jeff Selby at

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Office of Equity and Human Rights invites public comment on Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title II Transition Plan

August 13, 2014


PORTLAND – In an effort to make City of Portland facilities and programs accessible to all, the City has embarked on a comprehensive process to create the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Title II Transition Plan. The Plan identifies barriers which impede access to City facilities that are open to the public. The Office of Equity and Human Rights ADA Title II Transition team invites the community to review and comment on the Draft Transition Plan.


There are several ways to get more information and provide comments:

1. View the materials online at and provide comment on the provided electronic form.

2. Attend an informational open house and provide comment:

        • Tuesday, August 19, 4:00-6:30 p.m. at Independent Living Resources 1839 NE Couch St.
        • Tuesday, August 26, 12:30-2:30 p.m. at The Portland Building 1120 SW 5th Ave. Room C
        • Thursday, September 4, 4:00-6:00 p.m. at East Portland Community Center 740 SE 106th Ave.

3. View the materials at one of the following locations:

  • Office of Equity and Human Rights, 421 SW 6th Ave. Suite 500
  • Midland Library, 805 SE 122nd Ave.
  • St. Johns Library, 7510 N Charleston Ave.

“The Transition Plan is an important step in making our City more accessible to all Portlanders,” said Mayor Charlie Hales. “I am pleased that the City of Portland has put focus and funding toward this equity process.”


City facilities were surveyed based on compliance with the current 2010 ADA standards. The City’s ADA Title II Transition Plan team surveyed 342 unique facilities, identified roughly 25,000 individual barriers, and has scheduled their removal over time.


To help ensure equal access to City programs, services and activities, the City of Portland will provide translation, reasonably modify policies/procedures, and provide auxiliary aids/services/alternative formats to persons with disabilities. For accommodations, translations, complaints, and additional information, contact 503-823-4072, use City TTY 503-823-6868, or use Oregon Relay Service: 711.


Portland’s Office of Equity and Human Rights provides education and technical support to City staff and elected officials, leading to recognition and removal of systemic barriers to fair and just distribution of resources, access, and opportunity; starting with issues of race and disability.


For more information, please contact Jeff Selby at


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City of Portland removes employment application barriers for people with criminal records

July 9, 2014


PORTLAND – The City of Portland has removed language from its employment applications that states applicants may be required to sign a criminal history statement. Questions about criminal background, if relevant to a position, would be asked later in the hiring process.


The statements formerly included on City applications created a barrier for ex-offenders, giving many the perception that a criminal history could prevent them from gaining government employment with the City of Portland.


“This is a win-win,” said Mayor Charlie Hales. “This removes a barrier to employment with the City, which will attract a more diverse pool of applicants to City jobs—one step in addressing the collective impact of crime. Stable employment significantly reduces recidivism rates, building stability and breaking the cycle of incarceration for people trying to get back on their feet.” 


The City joins more than 60 U.S. jurisdictions, including Multnomah County, in removing the barrier to employment for formerly incarcerated people. The nationwide campaign to remove these types of barriers is commonly called, “Ban the Box,” which refers to the question on employment applications that asks whether the applicant has been convicted of a crime or been incarcerated.


“We can credit this policy change to the Governing for Racial Equity Conference that our office hosted in March,” said Dante James, Office of Equity and Human Rights Bureau Director. “After attending the conference, City Human Resources leaders took to heart the chilling outcome that these types of questions can have on former offenders during the job application process.” 


Portland’s Office of Equity and Human Rights provides education and technical support to City staff and elected officials, leading to recognition and removal of systemic barriers to fair and just distribution of resources, access, and opportunity; starting with issues of race and disability.


For more information, please contact Jeff Selby at


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Americans With Disabilities Act Celebration

Pcod logo

The City of Portland and community partners are hosting an event to celebrate the 24th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This family friendly event will include live entertainment, an open mic session, interactive activities, multi-ethnic snacks, speakers—including City of Portland Commissioner Amanda Fritz—and a birthday cake for the ADA’s big 24th! This event is free and open to the public.


Where: Matt Dishman Community Center, 77 NE Knott St., Portland

When: July 26, 2014, 2:00-5:00 p.m.


ASL Interpretation and captioning will be provided. Please direct any questions or comments to


To help ensure equal access to City programs, services and activities, the City of Portland will reasonably modify polices/procedures and provide auxiliary aids/services to persons with disabilities. For accommodation requests, call 503-823-4432, TTY/TDD 503-823-6868, or Oregon Relay Service at 711 or 1-800-735-2900.


Please request accommodations three to five working days prior to the meeting.

Office of Equity and Human Rights welcomes Kenya Budd

photo of Kenya BuddJune 9, 2014

PORTLAND – The City of Portland’s Office of Equity and Human Rights (OEHR) is pleased to announce that Kenya Budd has joined the team as Program Coordinator. Budd will be responsible for staffing and helping guide the Human Rights Commission and Citywide Equity Committee, as well as becoming a member of the Equity Training Team. 

“Kenya’s diversity and equity experience make her a great fit for our team,” said Dante James, OEHR Bureau Director. “I believe her knowledge and facilitation skills will help move the Human Rights Commission and Citywide Equity Committee forward in their work, and we’re excited to have her on board.” 

Budd comes to OEHR as an Army veteran, trainer, facilitator, and mediator in private practice. She has focused her diversity and equity work on creating safe and respectful conversation, where race, ability, gender, and privilege can be explored in a paradigm that promotes key concepts found in Cognitive Behavioral Theory, conflict resolution, motivational interviewing techniques, and transformative facilitation models. 

Budd holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Deaf Education from University of Maryland. She was trained and certified as a mediator at the University of Washington Legal Education Program and Vancouver Community Mediation Dispute Resolution Center. Portland’s Office of Equity and Human Rights provides education and technical support to City staff and elected officials, leading to recognition and removal of systemic barriers to fair and just distribution of resources, access, and opportunity; starting with issues of race and disability.

City of Portland Human Rights Commission Applauds Decision on Marriage Equality

May 19, 2014


PORTLAND – On Monday afternoon, the City of Portland Human Rights Commission (HRC) joined millions awaiting the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision on marriage equality in Oregon. Based on the long-awaited outcome, the HRC stopped to applaud Judge Michael McShane’s ruling, deeming the ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.

As a diverse body of leaders who represents all segments of the community including LGBTQ, the HRC sees this decision as one that sets Oregon apart from states that have yet to take a stance on the issue. HRC Chair and LGBTQ Ally, Sonji Young stated, “To love is by far the greatest commitment that any of us can make in our lives.  By removing the legal barriers, all of our fellow citizens can pursue happiness, regardless of their personal preference.”  Young added, “Today’s decision demonstrates that love is indeed a human right. We all deserve to declare our love through marriage and have it recognized.”

HRC Commissioner Sam Sachs, who has long been a member of Portland’s social justice community agreed with Young, exclaiming, “Oregon has done the right thing!”

The HRC works to eliminate discrimination and bigotry, to strengthen inter-group relationships, and to foster greater understanding, inclusion, and justice for those who live, work, study, worship, travel and play in the City of Portland.

For more information, please contact Jeff Selby at


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Office of Equity and Human Rights Community Engagement Liaisons Program helps grow community involvement at City Budget Hearing

CELs waiting to testifyMay 16, 2014

Office of Equity and Human Rights Community Engagement Liaisons Program helps grow community involvement at City Budget Hearing

The City Budget Public Hearing on May 15, 2014 featured many community voices never before heard at previous years’ sessions. Answering a request from the City Budget Office, the Office of Equity and Human Rights New Portlander Programs’ Community Engagement Liaisons (CELs) helped gather members of several immigrant and refugee communities to testify before City Council.


Community members included:

  • Zomi elders and activists led by Rev. Zam King Mang of Zomi Association of United States
  • Iraqi Kurd, Sunni, Shi’a, and Christian Portlanders led by Dr. Baher Butti of Iraqi Society of Oregon
  • Portland’s West and Central African elders and activists led by Jerome Adibonou of Togo Community of Oregon
  • Pacific Island (Tongan and Chuuk) American elders and activists led by Kolini Fusitua of Tongan American Resource Center of Oregon

The CELs Program is designed to assist bureaus in their outreach efforts to underrepresented communities in Portland. Photos from the hearing may be found here:


More information on the CELs Program is available at:

Online Demographics Dashboard Video

Link to videoMay 13, 2014

How diverse is the City of Portland workforce? In response to community requests, the Office of Equity and Human Rights teamed with City partners to develop the online Demographics Dashboard.

In this video, Office of Equity and Human Rights Assistant Bureau Director, Joe Wahl, says the interactive Dashboard gives community members and City leaders valuable information now with more data layers planned for the near future.

The Demographics Dashboard can be found on the Office of Equity and Human Rights website, by clicking the “I want to view City of Portland Demographics” button.

Slavic Community Fair this Thursday

April 21, 2014


The Slavic Community Fair this Thursday presents an informal setting to inform the Slavic Community and to allow community members to let City representatives know their concerns about Police and local government.

Representatives from law enforcement, city government and much more will be on hand.


Topics include:

  • Who do I call to report a crime?
  • Where do I go to get information about crime in my neighborhood?
  • What if I’m not sure a crime has been committed?
  • How do I recognize drug activity?
  • What do I do if I am interested in a career in law enforcement?
  • When is it okay to pass a school bus?

Thursday, April 24, 2014
6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Portland Community College—Southeast Campus
Mt. Tabor Room
2305 SE 82nd Ave.

Download English language flyer here.

Download Russian language flyer here.

Slavic Fair (Russian)

Download (PDF Document, 101kb)

Slavic Fair (English)

Download (PDF Document, 56kb)

Free Legal Counseling Event

The Human Trafficking Task Force of the Portland Human Rights Commission is co-sponsoring a Free Legal Counseling Event on Sunday, April 27, from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Sauvie Island Grange, located at 14443 NW Charlton Rd. Portland, OR 97231


The program will provide free legal counseling to anyone who believes they have been a victim of workplace related crime, including human trafficking. Most trafficking victims do not “self-identify” as such. Thus, an effective way to identify and assist trafficking victims and survivors is to provide legal counseling to those who believe they have been victimized in other related ways, including wage theft, workplace violence or threat of violence, or coercion to work by threats related to immigration status. Program participants will have access volunteer immigration attorneys and interpreters.


The program is co-sponsored by Oregonians Against Human Trafficking (OATH), the HRC Human Trafficking Task Force, the Oregon Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Immigration Counseling Service, and Catholic Charities.


View flyers at the links below: 



OEHR Hosts Governing for Racial Equity Conference

March 27, 2014Dante photo

PORTLAND - Portland's Office of Equity and Human Rights (OEHR) hosted the Third Annual Governing for Racial Equity (GRE) Conference on March 25th and 26th at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel Portland.

Multnomah County Office of Diversity and Equity, King County Equity and Social Justice, City of Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative, and San Francisco Human Rights Commission were partners on the planning committee.

The conference for government employees and elected officials attracted nearly 450 participants from the Pacific Northwest as well as jurisdictions in New York, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Iowa, Wisconsin, California, and Virginia. Workshops and presentations focused on the history of racism and on incorporating a racial equity lens for training, policy development, health, transportation, planning and other governmental functions.

OEHR Director, Dante James said, “This was planned as a regional conference, but as you can see from our attendees here today—this has turned out to be so much more.”

Featured speakers included Walidah Imarisha, Neva Walker, and Multnomah County Chair, Marissa Madrigal.

The purpose of the annual conference is two-fold: to educate participants and to build a network of government jurisdictions working to achieve racial equity.

The GRE Network works to eliminate institutional and structural racism, as they are the root causes of racial inequities. Our goals are to strengthen alliances, build organizational and institutional skills and commitment, share promising practices and develop and implement policies that promote racial equity.


GRE photo

Walidah Imarisha

Africa House

Comm. Fritz

Lew Frederick




Government workers from around the U.S. get brief lesson in Oregon's checkered past

Racial equity: Hundreds of government employees, elected officials descend on Portland for equity conference

Human Rights Commission Presents Annual Report to Council

Kyle Busse and Linda McKim-BellMarch 12, 2014


PORTLAND - The City of Portland Human Rights Commission 2012-13 Annual Report was presented to City Council on March 12, 2014.


Human Rights Commissioners Kyle Busse and Linda McKim-Bell presented the report and received feedback from City Commissioners and public testimony from community members.


The Annual Report can be found here.

Human Rights Commission Announces Vacancy

March 3, 2014

PORTLAND - The Human Rights Commission seeks to recommend one appointee to serve a partial term beginning in late April, 2014. Due to staggered term appointments, the term ends in October, 2014. City Council confirms all appointments to the Human Rights Commission.


Members are expected to participate in all monthly meetings (or pre-arrange absences) typically held on the first Wednesday of the month. These meetings normally run about three hours.


Commissioners are also asked to participate in at least one sub-committee or special project work. Sub-committee or special projects do require attending additional meeting, and performing tasks, outside of the regular monthly Commission meetings. Additional meetings of the Commission are held as needed to respond to events, conduct hearings and forums, or extend the work of the Commission.


The Commission encourages applications from diverse communities as well as youth and students.

This is a volunteer, unpaid position. Please share this with your networks.


Applications can be found below:


MS Word:


Governing for Racial Equity Conference 2014

GRE LogoPORTLAND - Portland's Office of Equity and Human Rights is co-sponsoring the Governing for Racial Equity Conference on March 25th and 26th at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel Portland.


The GRE Network is a regional partnership of government jurisdictions working to achieve racial equity. We work to eliminate institutional and structural racism, as they are the root causes of racial inequities. Our goals are to strengthen alliances, build organizational and institutional skills and commitment, share promising practices and develop and implement policies that promote racial equity.


The Conference will also feature workshops and presentations on incorporating a racial equity lens for training, policy development, health, transportation, planning and more.


Elected leaders are invited to enroll in a facilitated Executive Session to discuss the opportunities and challenges of governing for racial equity.

The Conference will culminate with the official launch of the GRE Network.


Government employees and elected officials from around the United States have registered.


Registration ends Thursday, March 20th. Don't miss this event! Registration information can be found here.


The Keynote Presentation featuring Neva Walker is open to the public for free.

Neva Walker is the Executive Director of San Francisco’s Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, and will present ”Inside/Outside Strategies for Community and Government Partnerships for Racial Justice.”

The keynote will be held at the Doubletree by Hilton Portland 1000 NE Multnomah Street Portland, Oregon 97232 on March 25, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.


Community members are invited to register for free at this link:


Introducing the Community Engagement Liaisons (CELs) Program

City Seeks Compliance Officer, Community Liaison

The Portland Observer: Dante James, Change Agent

Portland Human Rights Commission Urges Presence of Community’s Voice And Continued City Council Response in Police Accountability Settlement Agreement

February 17, 2014

For Immediate Release


PORTLAND – In light of the forthcoming Fairness Hearing on the Department of Justice settlement agreement with the City of Portland and the Portland Police Bureau scheduled for February 18, 2014, the Portland Human Rights Commission (HRC) calls for strategic community involvement as the extent of the settlement process continues and as the implementation of the agreement moves forward.

During the hearing on Tuesday, Judge Michael Simon will call for testimony from individuals and community organizations to determine whether the agreement is fair, adequate and reasonable. The agreement in question by Judge Michael Simon was initially reached between the City of Portland and the Department of Justice, following the Department of Justice’s investigation into the Portland Police Bureau’s use of force. The Fairness Hearing will be just the first of many opportunities for the community to play an active role in holding the Portland Police Bureau accountable for its actions as implementation begins.

As a city-appointed commission whose responsibilities include advising City Council and bringing forward the voices of the community, the HRC realizes that ongoing input and collaboration will be required if those voices are to be heard and reflected during implementation. HRC Chair, Sonji Young says, “The Department of Justice settlement is no different than any other situation that impacts members of our city’s diverse community.” Young added, “Community members should expect to have their voices be present and weighed throughout any and all processes that impact their well being."

The HRC believes that participation of all segments of the community is required if concerns are to be amplified and elevated to action. Local organizations have hosted public forums aimed at answering the community’s questions about the agreement. Having attended such forums, the HRC hopes to continue to hear directly from community members and call attention to the expressed suggestions or concerns that they raise. Most importantly, HRC will encourage City Council to consider emerging concerns raised by citizens and organizations during Tuesday’s Fairness Hearing and requests that City Council exercise their option to discuss and request changes to the agreement, as highlighted in paragraph 187 of the agreement.

The Portland Human Rights Commission (HRC) works to eliminate discrimination and bigotry, to strengthen inter-group relationships, and to foster greater understanding, inclusion, and justice for those who live, work, study, worship, travel and play in the City of Portland.

For more information, please contact Aimee Samara at


# # #

Human Rights Commission Encourages Community Members to Participate in Upcoming Forums and to Testify at Feb 18 Hearing on Police Accountability


January 27, 2014


PORTLAND – The Portland Human Rights Commission (HRC) believes that Portland can reach its goal of shaping a police bureau that models community policing that serves everyone. To that end, the HRC encourages all community members to testify at a Fairness Hearing on February 18, 2014 at Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse, 1000 SW 3rd Ave. (Courtroom 13B) at 9:00 a.m., if they have experienced what they consider unreasonable use of force by members of the PPB, or if they can testify to unreasonable use of force used against a friend or family member.


The Albina Ministerial Alliance (AMA) Coalition for Justice and Police Reform has also organized several community forums in preparation for the Fairness Hearing:

  • Tuesday, January 28 • 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. • First Unitarian Church • 1011 SW 12th Ave.
  • Saturday, February 8 • 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.• St Johns Community Center • 8427 N Central St.
  • Thursday, February 13 • 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. • Rosewood Community Center • 16126 SE Stark St.

If community members cannot attend these events, the AMA Coalition is available to help you with preparing testimony for the hearing or to send to Judge Michael H. Simon.



In 2012 the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and United States Attorney's Office for the District of Oregon (collectively "DOJ") reported on their investigation of the Portland Police Bureau’s (PPB) use of force, revealing the PPB “… engages in a pattern or practice of unnecessary or unreasonable force during interactions with people who have or are perceived to have mental illness.” The U.S. then sued the City of Portland based on those findings. Intending to remedy the issues outlined in the DOJ findings, Council adopted a Settlement Agreement among the City of Portland, the Portland Police Association (PPA), and the US Department of Justice (DOJ). Following that, Federal Judge Michael Simon set a “Fairness Hearing” to allow the community to weigh in on whether the Agreement is "fair, adequate and reasonable.”


HRC Considerations:

  1. The HRC recognizes the vital importance public participation and in this instance we are specifically guided by Article 21 (1) of the by UN Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.” Community testimony at the Fairness Hearing is important toward the process of strengthening the DOJ Agreement; a rare opportunity to improve police accountability in Portland.
  2. The organizers of these events, members of the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform (AMA Coalition), have been working for ten years toward significant change in use of force policy and practices of the Portland Police Bureau, and they were granted "enhanced amicus" (friend of the court) status to the DOJ's lawsuit. They have designed these forums as a resource to community members in advance of the Fairness Hearing, to explain the purpose of the Fairness Hearing to the community and to provide support for testifying. This may include sending written or video testimony to Judge Simon for community members who cannot make the hearing date.
  3. The HRC is supportive of strengthening the Agreement in order to obtain meaningful changes that make encounters with police safer for people with mental illness and to empower Portland’s Police officers to serve more effectively and protect civil rights. While the DOJ investigation did not address use of force disparities based on race, the HRC also recognizes that many of these same PPB practices are experienced disproportionately by people of color, calling for increased attention around use of force related to race.

For more information on the forums, please see the AMA Coalition website:


The Portland HRC works to eliminate discrimination and bigotry, to strengthen inter-group relationships, and to foster greater understanding, inclusion, and justice for those who live, work, study, worship, travel and play in the City of Portland.


#     #     #

KBOO Talks Community Policing

Photo of SGT Doris PaisleyKBOO Radio Host, Lisa Loving, interviewed two generations of Portland Police officers on January 22. Sgt. Doris Paisley and soon-to-be Officer Brianne Paisley joined Loving and Ronault LS (Polo) Catalani for a discussion of community policing.


Sgt. Paisley has partnered with Catalani (who runs the Office of Equity and Human Rights New Portlander Programs) on many community policing initiatives and has gained enormous respect and affection from Portland’s far eastside immigrant and refugee communities. Her daughter, Brianne, will be sworn in to the Portland Police Bureau on February 13.


Sgt. Paisley is the daughter of a Nikkei (Japanese community) immigrant mother.

Ronault "Polo" Catalani Honored by "Know Your City"

Comics for Change logoOn December 12, 2013, Ronault “Polo” Catalani form the Office of Equity and Human Rights New Portlanders Program, was honored at a release party at Darcelle XV Showplace. Comics for Change! Illustrated Stories From Oregon’s Front Lines, a Know Your City project, features a series of ten comics, each telling the story of an Oregon activist.

Polo was selected for his 30 years of civic activism and assisting in integrating immigrant and refugee families into the life of our city.

In addition to Polo, the comic project honored:

Alex Brown
Walter Cole
Dan Handelman
Cheryl Johnson
Paul Knauls
Ibrahim Mubarak
Genny Nelson
Kathleen Saadat
Wilbur Slockish

Polo said he is really a community facilitator:

“While our family is honored by writer Lauren Hudgins' and cartoonist Asher Crew's superhero characterization, everyone knows that my work is setting the kitchen table where Portland’s real heavy-lifters sit and solve problems. “Knowing your City” means knowing this, and knowing them. Thank you Mark, Amanda, and the Know Your City board for urging Portland toward understanding this, and making Portland a bigger Us.”

Human Rights Commission Recommends Postponement of Vote on IPR Code Changes

December 17, 2013


Dear City Council:

The Human Rights Commission (“HRC”) supports the efforts of the Independent Police Review (“IPR”) to strengthen the oversight system of the Portland Police Bureau (“PPB”) and the discussions regarding code changes scheduled for December 18th.

The HRC understands that during the upcoming fairness hearing with District Court Judge Michael Simon, members of the public will be invited to weigh in on the Settlement Agreement (“Agreement”) between the City and the Department of Justice, and that this hearing will include options for participation that amplify accessibility for community members.

Considering the crucial role that the IPR system plays in the Agreement, as well as the important need to maximize community participation in this process, we recommend that voting on any IPR code changes be postponed until after the fairness hearing.

To help address community concerns related to unnecessary use of force as well as tensions that exist between the PPB and Portlanders, we believe the community should play a central role in both developing and managing community oversight systems.  Postponing the vote until after the fairness hearing would be a positive step in that direction.

Respectfully Yours,

Kyle Busse

Chair, Portland Human Rights Commission

Office of Equity and Human Rights urges Portland Police to reinforce professional behavior in light of recent racial slur allegation

The Director of City of Portland’s Office of Equity and Human Rights (OEHR), Dante J. James, is urging Portland Police Bureau (PPB) to respond to recent reports in The Portland Mercury and The Oregonian as an opportunity for daily training and reminders. The newspapers reported that a Portland Police Officer used the word, “nigger,” during an interaction with a Black community member on October 5, 2013.


OEHR commends PPB for racial sensitivity training given to Command Staff and Sergeants that was organized by Portland’s Community and Police Relations Committee’s training subcommittee. For street officers who interact with community members every day, James recommends that PPB use this recent racial slur allegation as an opportunity to discuss professionalism at every roll call, in every training session, and in off-line discussions.


James reinforced to PPB leadership that the word, “nigger” can never be used by a White officer in interactions with someone on the street. He stated, “People will argue that it is a double standard because some Black people use the word. This is not an argument about who gets to use the word. This is an opportunity for PPB to remind its staff that ANY pejorative of this type is unacceptable. This is about professionalism, plain and simple, and this is the conversation that needs to happen.”


Chief Mike Reese responded positively to James and noted that he will be discussing this matter with PPB Leadership Staff immediately.

Ronault "Polo" Catalani Earns MET Leadership Award

Photo of Polo and WajdiOn November 9th 2013, the Muslim Educational Trust (MET) celebrated its Annual Award/Auction/Appreciation Night by recognizing dedicated individuals for their positive contribution to MET and the community at large.

Ronault "Polo" Catalani from the Office of Equity and Human Rights was honored for his community leadership and New Portlander Program projects.


Others honored at the event: 

MET Lifetime Achievement Award:

  • Jahed Sukhun, MET Vice President

Friends of MET Award:

  • Denny Doyle, Mayor - City of Beaverton

  • Don Mazziotti,Community Development Director - City of Beaverton

Leadership Award:

  • Mohamed Kabira, President - Masjid Al-Furqan

  • Imtiaz Khan, President - Masjid As-Saber

  • Diaa Eldin Nassar,Vice President - Intel Muslim Employee Group




50 Years in 10 Charts

Flyer Targets People with Disabilities

People with disabilities are now the target of a hate group in the Portland area. Neighborhoods are being littered with this handbill attacking people with disabilities who receive public assistance. With an underlying tone of violence, this vigilante attack states that people's names are being posted where they can be seen by taxpayers. The author suggests that receiving benefits makes people with disabilities a threat to the republic.

The Portland Commission on Disability requests that anyone who has received or seen this flyer to please report it so they may track it. Thanks to Human Rights Commissioner, Linda McKim-Bell for bringing this to the Commission's attention.


Flyer targeting people with disabilities




UPDATE: Flyers have reportedly been received in the following neighborhoods: Irvington, Arbor Lodge, SW Hills, Laurelhurst, and Eliot.

OEHR admits error and will recognize Capt. Mark Kruger

PORTLAND – The Office of Equity and Human Rights (OEHR) will present a “We Are Portland” award to Portland Police Bureau’s Capt. Mark Kruger on August 13, 2013. On July 26, 2013, 84 civic activists and City employees were honored for their work in furthering the City of Portland’s immigrant integration initiatives and Capt. Kruger was slated to receive the award. When a community opinion leader contacted OEHR staff the evening before the event expressing concern about past charges and allegations against Capt. Kruger, the decision was made to ask Kruger to accept his award at a different time and venue.

“Postponing the award presentation to Capt. Kruger was my judgment call based on the last minute concern of a respected community leader. It was ultimately not the right decision,” said Dante James, OEHR Bureau Director. “Any concerns about his past should be addressed in a separate venue. We will recognize Capt. Kruger for his current work and dedication to our city’s immigrant and refugee community with our apologies for the delay.”

OEHR respects community concerns about Portland Police Bureau and has offered to facilitate a public discussion to build understanding and reconciliation between the Police and community members.

Capt. Kruger has fostered working relationships with Portland’s newcomer community elders and activists, and has partnered with OEHR’s New Portlander Programs in presenting the “Know your Tenant Rights” and “Know Your Police” workshop series. The programs brought 40 refugee tenants with critical residence and neighborhood livability issues into the East Precinct for trainings on Oregon tenant rights, Portland Police crime prevention, and law enforcement services.

Humane treatment of homeless campers

PORTLAND – The City of Portland’s Office of Equity and Human Rights (OEHR) is working with Mayor Charlie Hales’ office to help ensure that the process of moving homeless campers from the vicinity of City Hall is handled humanely.

“We are concerned with the well-being and human rights of the homeless and do not want the public to conflate homelessness with criminal behavior,” said OEHR Bureau Director, Dante J. James. “We hope to get those who are homeless connected to services and organizations that might be able to help—in the short term. Obviously, we hope the City can also help create long-term solutions to address homelessness.”

Members of the non-profit organization, JOIN, have been on hand at City Hall to advise the homeless campers about services and housing options.

OEHR is also concerned about the safety and accessibility of the area around City Hall, specifically for people with disabilities. With homeless campers on the sidewalks, people who use wheelchairs or canes have issues navigating safely near City buildings.

The Office of Equity and Human Rights (OEHR) focuses on removing systemic barriers to fair and just distribution of resources, access, and opportunity. This focus includes ensuring that City of Portland workplaces and events are inclusive and welcoming.

We Are Portland Awards

2012 We Are Portland AwardsThe Office of Equity and Human Rights (OEHR) hosts the Annual "We Are Portland" Awards on Friday, July 26, 2013 at Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) on 10301 NE Glisan St  Portland, OR. The public is invited to attend the ceremony which runs from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m.

The "We Are Portland" Awards honor civic activists and City employees who have worked to further the City of Portland’s immigrant integration initiatives. Special recognition will be given to Commissioner Amanda Fritz and retiring East Police Precinct Commander, Michael Lee.

"Commissioner Fritz is widely seen by immigrant and refugee communities as championing their concerns," said OEHR New Portlander Program Coordinator, Ronault "Polo" Catalani. "And Commander Lee has opened his precinct’s doors to newcomer families by facilitating community policing sessions and building working relationships with ethnic minority elders and activists."

Portland’s Office of Equity and Human Rights' New Portlander Program was recently invited to New York CIty by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to present its best-practices models at the Mayor's First Convening of Cities for Immigrant Integration.

Commissioner Fritz Addresses Hearing Loss Assoc. of America Conference

Commissioner Amanda FritzAmanda Fritz, Portland City Commissioner, spoke at the opening of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) 2013 Convention on Thursday, June 27. She welcomed the attendees to the City of Roses and cited a number of advances for people with disabilities in Portland which included the Model Employer Plan and a captioning plan for all online and cablecast digital media.


Following a receptive applause from the audience, the incoming HLAA executive director, Anna Gilmore Hall, said, “There was a reason we picked Portland and that’s it,” referring to the proactive actions made by the city in regards to disability rights and being the HLAA’s choice for its national convention this year.

Chief Mike Reese Announces Command Changes to the Portland Police Bureau

OEHR Supports City Investigation

Download (PDF Document, 140kb)

Mayor Hales Announces Bureau Assignments

ENGAGE "Hear our Voices!"

IRCO Engage photoIRCO’s Diversity and Civic Leadership program presented results of the ENGAGE "Hear our Voices!" survey of more than 250 members from 25 different ethnic communities around the Portland Metro area. The group presented their findings to government leaders and public involvement staff at City Hall on May 4, 2013.

Somali Community Center Opens

Somali CenterThe Somali Community Center opened on April 27th, 2013. It is the first center that represents all Somali based organizations in Oregon.
(left to right: Commissioner Steve Novick, Abdisalan Muse, Musse Olol, U.S. Attorney S. Amanda Marshall, OEHR Director Dante J. James, and Shamsa Abdurahman)

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in Portland

Council photoAPI members of OEHR and BHR pose with City Council as Mayor Hales proclaims May as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in Portland on May 16, 2013