Portland Human Rights Commission
Minutes of November 7, 2012 Session
Time: 4:00 – 6:30 PM
Location: Office of Equity and Human Rights, 421 SW 6th Ave, Suite 500 Portland, OR 97204
Human Rights Commissioners present: : Abdul Majidi; Allan T. Lazo; Aimee Samara Krouskop; Christine Rontal; Damon Isiah Turner; Deyalo Bennett; Donna D. Maxey; Emily G. Gottfried; Kyle Busse; Mayra Arreola; Moloy K. Good; Stephen Manning. Absent: Ashley Horne.
Portland Commissioners on Disability: Lavaun Heister and Nicholas Johnson
Office of Equity and Human Rights Director Dante James; Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Capt. Patrick Marsh and PSU’s Emma Covelli; Portland residents Linda and Kurt Bell (more interested residents attending but sign-in sheet could not be found)
1. Welcoming and Gathering. Portland Human Rights Commission (HRC) Chair Kyle Busse opened the Nov 2012 session at 4:12pm
2. Approval of October Minutes and Nov Agenda. Minutes approved after correction: Comm Donna Maxey was absent from Oct session. Agenda approved with addition of TriMet matter, and rearrangement of agenda items for time efficiency.
3. Human Rights award nominations. Reporting for HRC Awards subcom, Comm Gottfried announced and HRC received and approved of HRC 2012 award winners: Kathleen Saadat (Lifetime Achievement); Chabre Vickers (Emerging Leader); Oregon Human Trafficking Task Force (Organization). Comm Gottfried prepared and passed out a summary of award-winners (attached to these minutes). Awards luncheon is Dec 10 at 11:45am at NW Natural 220 NW Second Ave.
4. Public Comment. Comm Majidi expressed concern and asked for HRC response on the matter of a paid bulletin posted on TriMet public transportation using provocative language: “Defeat Jihad” and “In any war between civilized man and the savage . . . ”
HR Commissioners discussed local legal history of free speech, Constitutionally protected and unprotected speech and the many ways a civil society responds to hurtful speech. HR Commissioners agreed that a public HRC response is necessary because the provocative language can be read as “coded” racial or ethnic epithets, and agreed on several publication venues for a response essentially expressing Portlanders respecting each other, an explanation of free speech fundementals, but not setting out arguments on the legal merits of the matter.
5. Communication/Marketing committee work plan. Comm Rontal prepared and passed out (attached) and explained, and HR Commissioner discussed a four-pronged marketing and communications strategy – in-person marketing and sponsorships; print-based public relations materials; Digitally-distributed marketing avenues; HRC data library driving HRC marketing initiatives.
6. CPRC update on DOJ process. Director Dante James reported and HR Commissioners discussed three areas of concern in the recently drafted City of Portland-US Dept of Justice (DOJ) agreement settling DOJ-alleged civil rights violations of Portlanders with mental disabilities – specifically: those provisions in the agreement creating a Citizen Oversight Advisory Board (COAB) which mandates HRC membership.
Three issues, among other things, are: the lack of transparency in a rushed process participated in by representatives of Portland’s Mayor and the DOJ; that the rushed process failed to include disability professionals and activists, assuming that HRC Police and Community Relations Committee (CPRC) members have mental health expertise and community-connectedness; and an apparent lack of respect for HRC autonomy disclosed by the closed process and unilaterally-issued and -imposed directives and deadlines.
HRC Chair Busse led discussion of HRC memorandum, prepared and delivered by CPRC Workgroup to Mayor’s Office in response.
This discussion ended with noting upcoming proceedings amending or approving City/DOJ settlement agreement, and organizing HRC attendance and participation. Motion was made and approved (10 in favor, 2 abstentions) for HRC acceptance of CPRC Workgroup recommendations, appointing HRC as City Council session spokesperson for the workgroup at Nov 8 City Council session, and expressly stating closing paragraphs of HRC Chair Busse’s memorandum to Portland’s Mayor’s Office.
10. (Moved forward on agenda) Announcements. Comm Maxey reported on, and urged HRC participation in, Nov 13,2012 Race Talks at McMinneman’s Kennedy School, topic: Portland Community Policing. Dynmamic and diverse public and City of Portland participation is anticipated.
7. CPRC update on Building Community By Understanding the Diversity of Our Cultural Experiences training project. Commissioner Turner and PSU/PPB Researcher Emma Covelli recalled the genesis of this project as in response to a 2011 PPB request of the HRC’s CPRC to create a strategic plan for mitigating institutional racism.
The training’s strategic goals: diversifying all ranks; PPB policies and practices valuing the diversity of our city; a respectful and inclusive work environment that is knowledgeable and comfortable on race and gender issues; strong trust-bonds between officers and communities policed.
The strategic approach incorporates both officer training and education, and police bureau organizational change.
Commissioners Fry, Manning, Turner, Majidi, and Lazo were nominated and selected for membership to the training project workgroup. Comm Lazo defers until after City?DOJ settlement agreement amendments session before City Council Nov 8.
8. 6:05 – 6:25 Committee and Liaison Updates. Minutes on reports from Nominating Committee; Community Discovery Committee; Housing Rights Task Force; Sec 8 update; Inclusionary Zoning update; Human Trafficking Task Force; Bureau Advisory Committee – not included.
Respectfully submitted: Ronault LS Catalani
5 Dec 2012