February 16th, 2010 | by JAMES PITKIN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, City Hall, Politics, Cops and Courts

Jesse Jackson in Portland: 'We Cry Out for Justice'

jesse-jackson

Rev. Jesse Jackson told a crowd of more than 1,000 people tonight in Portland that they should not stop protesting the Jan. 29 police shooting death of Aaron Campbell.

"To get justice for Aaron is a long-distance struggle," Jackson told the crowd in the packed Maranatha Church of God in Northeast Portland."We cry out for justice and we cry out for peace. But there can be no peace until you take the glass out of the wound, and so justice must be thorough."

Jackson, a veteran at focusing the spotlight and making local politicians squirm in that light, said he wants to make the Campbell shooting a national issue. He called on the U.S. Department of Justice and Congress' House Judiciary Committee to investigate.

"This does rise to the level of a national concern," Jackson said at a news conference before his church address. "This would be a great case for people, white, black and brown ... to come together and stand up for better service from police."

Jackson decried the Portland Police Bureau's plans to return Officer Ronald Frashour to work tomorrow on Central Precinct's Neighborhood Response Team. Frashour shot Campbell, an African-American man, with an AR-15 assault rifle outside a Northeast Portland Apartment, after being told Campbell was armed and suicidal.

Police later learned Campbell was unarmed. A Multnomah County grand jury found Frashour did not break the law, but the jurors raised serious objections to how police handled the incident.

"Because they found no fault does not mean he should be returning to work tomorrow," Jackson said. "The mayor and the police chief have some responsibility not to let Mr. Frashour discredit the entire police department."

Using the sort of rhetorical flourishes that have made him a civil-rights icon, Jackson called Campbell's death a tragic but redemptive moment.

"Tonight we allow death to do for us what we would not let life do -- bring us together," Jackson said. "This issue is not just about skin, it is about sin. It is not just about black and white, it is about wrong and right."

Jackson -- who was in Oregon on a previously scheduled visit to give a talk on civil rights and social justice in Eugene -- told reporters in Portland before the church rally that his hastily arranged meeting with Mayor Sam Adams and Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman this afternoon was productive.

But others took rhetorical aim at Adams. Workers gathered signatures outside the church in an attempt to recall the mayor, including Portland State University student Jasun Wurster, who headed a failed recall attempt last year.

Inside the church, former state Sen. Avel Gordly (D-Portland) -- a spokeswoman for the new recall effort -- lashed out for the second time this week about failed leadership in City Hall leading up to Campbell's death.

"We are starved for leadership in high places -- leaders who can be trusted, leaders with integrity," Gordly told the crowd.

Jackson both at the news conference and again in the crowded church, stirred the crowd with a graphic description of Campbell's death.

"They let him lay bleeding like a dog, while a (police) dog sniffed his bleeding body," Jackson said at the news conference. "That is beneath the dignity of a man and beneath the dignity of Oregonians."

Jackson called for wider social reforms, such as closing gaps between whites and minorities in unemployment, education and incarceration.

While his final message was one of hope, he returned repeatedly to Campbell's death as a cry for police to face justice.

"Nobody has the right to shoot anybody unarmed, in cold blood," Jackson said. "They do not need more training. They need to face a judge and a jury."
 
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