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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 saysamara7@gmail.com

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