The Rev. Jesse Jackson endorsed Loretta Smith this morning in her Aug. 11 runoff to fill the Portland City Council seat vacated by Commissioner Nick Fish's death from cancer in January.
"Loretta has the experience, heart and dedication to fight the uphill battles that stand between the way things are now and the way things need to be in the future," Jackson said in a statement.
Although the veteran civil right leader's home base is Chicago, he's no stranger to Portland. In his endorsement of Smith, Jackson referred to working with the former two-term Multnomah County commissioner after Officer Ron Frashour of the Portland police fatally shot Aaron Campbell, an unarmed black man, in 2010.
"I've spent a lot of time working with Loretta for change," Jackson added. "From the tragic death of Aaron Campbell to the deadly MAX train attack in 2017, she's sought to keep violence from becoming Portland's brand. And I've watched as she's fought tough battles to not only demand justice for people like George Floyd, but to also demand that Portland's elected leadership create a different, improved reality for communities of color who have long been locked out of opportunity and progress."
Campbell's shooting touched off a firestorm in Portland. In a press conference here in 2010, Jackson called Campbell's killing "an execution."
Then-Portland Police Chief Mike Reese fired Frashour, but he was later reinstated by an arbitrator, who ruled he'd acted within Portland Police Bureau directives. Then-Mayor Sam Adams refused to reinstate Frashour despite the arbitrator's decision, appealing the case until 2015, when the Oregon Court of Appeals ordered the officer reinstated.
Smith, who faces Dan Ryan, former executive director of the educational non-profit All Hands Raised, in the Aug. 11 special election to replace Fish, celebrated Jackson's endorsement of her.
"I am beyond excited and deeply honored to have the support of one of the greatest civil rights leaders in history for my bid for Portland City Council," Smith said in a statement. "We have a lot of work to get done, and I know the people of Portland will be well served by having Rev. Jackson, who fought alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the table with us to figure things out. I've dedicated my entire life to public service, and I can't fully express what it means to be supported in this way. While we're fighting for a better Portland for all, Rev. Jackson will be right there fighting alongside us."