Baruti Artharee, former police liaison for Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, appeared on local public-access television last week to level incendiary charges against African-American leaders he says conspired to destroy him.
Artharee was suspended by Hales for a week last July after making sexually suggestive remarks about Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith at a public dinner event.
In his Feb. 16 appearance on Oregon Voter’s Digest, Artharee said the scandal was the work of “puppet masters” in the black community.
He singled out Roy Jay, president of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Oregon, and David Austin, spokesman for Multnomah County.
Artharee told talk-show host Bruce Broussard that he is seeking to expose how the two men conspired to ruin his career by sensationalizing the incident with Smith.
"This was a political drive-by," Atharee said. "A drive-by is when a bunch of cowards get together, normally under the cover of darkness, and they try to kill somebody. … But I also know that if you try to commit a drive-by, and you don't take your subject out, you better be prepared to deal with consequences."
Artharee claimed he has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the African American Chamber of Commerce of Oregon, as well as Project Clean Slate, a program run by Jay and Multnomah County to expunge criminal records for minor offenses.
"Because what's been committed, I believe, has been a fraud," Artharee said. "Wide in the open. It's a fraud."
Jay says Artharee has no grounds to disparage either organization.
“Baruti Artharee is mistaken and looking for a scapegoat,” Jay tells WW. “I have instructed my legal team to explore a $50 million defamation and slander lawsuit against Mr. Artharee.”
Austin also denies Artharee's charges.
"In this case, a well-respected elected official in Multnomah County was subjected to some very boorish behavior," Austin says. "And I'm sure it must be easier to have an outburst in front of a camera rather than looking in the mirror and seeing who is truly at fault."
Last month, Artharee sent an email to a list of friends alleging "treachery and wickedness" among the city's African-American leaders, and promising to expose the ringleaders.
Artharee delivered those accusations Feb. 16, as part of a nearly 40-minute monologue on Oregon Voter’s Digest, during which he also blamed "so-called liberal white media" and said his remarks to Smith weren't sexual and could have been made "from any pulpit at a church in Portland."
A city investigation last summer found Artharee made inappropriate comments to Smith in front of 40 people at a June 6 event at Quartet Restaurant.
“Here’s our beautiful commissioner, Loretta Smith,” Artharee said. “Mmm, mmm, mmm—she looks good tonight.”
He said Feb. 16 that his remarks were taken out of context by vengeful enemies and a media that doesn't understand African-American culture.
"So my number-one message to all the black kids out there is this: That you have to define yourself," Artharee said. "Don't let anybody else define you. Don't let a newspaper reporter, a columnist, who has never met you, never talked to you, try to define you by a statement, and try to communicate to the rest of the world what you are and what you're not. It's no different than what our ancestors went through when they were defined as slaves."
The full video of Artharee's appearance is here: