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October 20th, 2010 Jacob Pierce | Cops and Courts
 

Plaque Flak

Police reformers want a closer look at the city’s handling of Nazi memorials.

     
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The Albina Ministerial Alliance wants an outside investigation into Portland’s Police Bureau and the City Attorney’s Office in the wake of recent revelations about a police captain and his interest in Nazi memorabilia.

The Oregonian reported Oct. 8 that an internal affairs investigator uncovered Nazi memorial plaques to five Nazi-era German soldiers in the City Attorney’s Office that once belonged to Portland police Capt. Mark Kruger. The City Attorney’s Office has defended Kruger, whose interest in Nazi memorabilia was first detailed seven years ago by WW (see “The Badge and the Swastika,” Oct. 1, 2003), in past lawsuits alleging misconduct by him and other officers against nonviolent protesters.

Albina Ministerial Alliance’s president, the Rev. T. Allen Bethel, tells WW that he wants Oregon Attorney General John Kroger to investigate why the public is just now hearing about the plaques, which Kruger nailed to a tree in Rocky Butte Park between 1999 and 2001.

“When there are persons who have ideologies and sympathies toward things that have been hurtful to people, we believe that should be looked into,” says Bethel, who met Oct. 18 with the Rev. Chuck Currie—a local minister who also has called for Kroger to step in.

Kroger’s office suggested the complaint go to the Oregon State Bar, a step Currie says he will take.

Portland lawyer Mark Johnson, a past president of the Oregon State Bar, says the city attorneys would not have been required to turn over the plaques unless plaintiffs’ attorneys requested them.

Alan Graf, lead attorney for the 12 plaintiffs in the police misconduct lawsuits, says he didn’t request those plaques specifically as part of his lawsuit. But Graf says he did request all items pertaining to the case, which ended with the 12 plaintiffs settling for $25,000 each.

City attorneys responded to Graf’s request, writing in a Feb. 10, 2004, memorandum, “Kruger’s interest in German military history and related hobbies (military re-enacting and collecting military memorabilia and books on military history) are not relevant to the claim or defense of any party and no further discovery should be allowed as to these matters.”

The Albina Ministerial Alliance’s Coalition for Justice and Police Reform, which has been vocal in criticizing police in three fatal police shootings this year, has concerns beyond the actions of the City Attorney’s Office. Bethel also wants more detail about Kruger, who has called himself a “history geek” who has never been a Nazi sympathizer (see “The Ice Man Weepeth,” WW, Oct. 14, 2009).

Bethel wants to know how any cop with Kruger’s interests could be effective with Portlanders of all colors.

“That’s information that needs to be known,” Bethel says. “Maybe some information would preclude an [officer] from serving in such positions.”

 
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