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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Parks & Recreation

Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland

Phone: 503-823-7529

1120 SW Fifth Avenue, Portland, OR 97204

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Board Statement on Turning the Tide of Racism

June 12, 2020

We are filled with sorrow and heartache watching the nation’s ongoing racism crisis. The senseless murder of George Floyd, the police brutality at many peaceful protests, and the responses of certain political leaders have shaken us. Fundamental change is needed to address the institutional and active racism facing black people and all people of color.

There is a deep flaw in our nation, and it is racism. It continues to pervade our society with deep-seated environmental and social injustices such as markedly higher infection rates and deaths of African-Americans and Native Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. The current passive-aggressive manifestations of racism are part of the sad legacy of enslavement of African-Americans and subjugation of Native Americans. As individuals we may condemn it, but only as communities united across the country can we eradicate it. It is time to do so. Racism is a crime against humanity.

Repeated police killings of African-Americans are horrifying and extreme examples of this behavior; they underline the urgency with which it must be addressed - by recognizing such acts of violence as crimes, punishable by law. This is how we codify consensus on acceptable behavior - all equal under enforcement of the law. We must root out racism from police forces. We need accountability.

We must also take action to eliminate racism from every other element of society. The deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Trayvon Martin are chilling examples: individual acts of murder based on racial bias against African Americans. These injustices need to be fully prosecuted as such. Environmental injustices are another form of violence against people of color and we need to seek remedies for these injustices as well.

We reaffirm our commitment to racial justice and equity and realize that statements of solidarity are not enough without action to back them up. We commit to doing our part by making the Portland Parks & Recreation Advisory Board an anti-racist institution and working with PP&R leadership to address racial inequities within the Portland Parks system. We commit to supporting local leaders of color in their calls for rooting out the racism that is entrenched in our police bureaus and in all systems. We recognize the responsibility that white people have at this time to listen, amplify, and support leaders of color. The white members of the Portland Parks Board are committed to taking on increased responsibility to change the systems, including systems within the Parks Board, set up to benefit white people.

We stand in solidarity with our Black neighbors here in the City of Portland, and across the country, in calling for overdue change. We stand ready to take action in this movement for racial justice.