Wednesday, Sept. 17 marks the two-year anniversary of the death of James Chasse Jr.,
and the Mental Health Association of Portland wanted to be sure today that your outrage hasn't waned.
Several association members spent the afternoon surrounding the Portland Police Bureau Central Precinct, drawing outlines of bodies and leaving a chalky roster on the sidewalk that lists the names of 12 mentally ill individuals who they say have died at the hands of police in Portland and surrounding areas.
“We're here to commemorate the second anniversary of James' death, and to remember the others who have been forgotten,” said Roy Silberstein, president of the Mental Health Association of Portland, as he handed out magenta fliers to passersby.
The fliers announced a Sept. 17 benefit concert at Wonder Ballroom, which is intended to drum up both money and awareness for the film Alien Boy – a still-in-production documentary about Chasse's life and death directed by Brian Lindstrom (who is being chalked in the photo above by Jason Renaud, co-producer of Alien Boy).
“People need to keep knowing Jim's story,” said Renaud. He hopes that the film can be a way to stimulate the kind of change in cities nationwide that Portland has seen
in the two years since Chasse's death. “Portland has done all it's going to do. Now we need to get Philadelphia, Plymouth, Phoenix talking about this.”
Today's demonstration consisted mainly of a few organizers, and occasionally a few pedestrians who stopped to ask questions before they continued on their way. But Renaud said his aim hadn't been to draw massive crowds.
“We're not really expecting anyone,” he said. “Just out here chalking and talking.”