February 19th, 2010 5:33 pm | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, City Hall, Cops and Courts

African American Leaders Share Message With Portland Elected Officials In Call For Federal Inquiry

Sam Adams speaking about the police shooting of Aaron Campbell in Portland
The African-American Alliance, Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman and Mayor Sam Adams this morning announced their joint request to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for an independent federal civil rights investigation of the Jan. 29 shooting death of Aaron Campbell.

That investigation, which comes via the written request [PDF] of U.S. Sen Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Portland), will serve as a separate review independent of the Portland Police Bureau's own internal investigation.

Letter from Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Earl Blumenauer

Also this morning they repeated the news from Tuesday that Police Chief Rosie Sizer asked Arthur Balizan, FBI Special Agent in Charge in Oregon, to initiate another preliminary investigation. That FBI investigation will support the inquiry of the U.S. Attorney's Office and the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.

Saltzman said again this morning he didn't expect the Justice Department to find that Campbell's civil rights had been violated. But Saltzman said the investigation would offer a step toward healing. 'That's why this review is warranted," said Saltzman, who's up for re-election this May.

In announcing the joint effort, Saltzman revealed an another discomfiting fact about the Portland Police Bureau, which struggles to recruit minority police officers and commanders: At least a few minority candidates have turned down job offers with the Portland Police Bureau in response to the shooting death of Campbell. But Saltzman said after the press conference he didn't intend to let those candidates slip away; he vowed to call them personally to attract them back to Portland.

Joyce Harris of the African-American Alliance stressed the importance of an outside review of police actions to prevent future tragedies. "Until we have that, we're going to be here again," she said.

Adams took to the podium last and vowed to address what he called the "context" for the uproar surrounding the Police Bureau's lethal use of force. That context is the fact that African-Americans in Portland lack access to the same high quality-of-life as other Portlanders, Adams said.

Officer Ronald Frashour remains on what amounts to desk duty. Saltzman said this morning nothing in the portions of the grand jury testimony he had reviewed so far indicated there should be a different decision.

Dan Saltzman with Mayor Sam Adams, Lolenzo Poe, Marcus Mundy, Urban League of Portland, Joyce Harris, Allen Bethel
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