Mike Westling, 414-507-7700
Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum will hear input from Portland community members about the effects of police profiling and public suggestions for addressing the issue
Police profiling continues to be a serious problem that affects Oregonians in communities across the state. Incidents of profiling can result in negative emotional, psychological, physical and financial trauma that disrupts lives and creates ripple effects for families.
On Tuesday, members of the community will share their personal experiences with profiling with Oregon’s Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. During the listening session, Attorney General Rosenblum will also share a summary of the Oregon Task Force on Law Enforcement Profiling’s work to date and community leaders will offer guidance for an effective process to investigate incidents of profiling and end the practice among law enforcement in Oregon.
Tuesday, October 27, at 6:00 p.m.
1120 SW 5th Avenue
Portland, OR 97204
Community members sharing statements include:
Eduardo Corona, the small business development program director of Adelante Mujeres in Forest Grove
Quinton Blandon, a pre-med college student
Blandon will share a personal story of being chased at gunpoint by Newberg police as he was walking home. Blandon’s written account of his experience is included below.
If you’d like to connect with Corona or Blandon about their experiences with police profiling, please contact Mike Westling at 414.507.7700 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Currently in Oregon, each law enforcement agency is left to decide their own definition and process on profiling. Profiling occurs in every part of the state and impacts many different communities, and until the Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 2002 in July 2015, there had been no coordinated state policy to address it.
House Bill 2002 banned the practice of profiling as a law enforcement tactic. It also created the Law Enforcement Profiling Work Group—a governor-appointed committee that includes the Attorney General, law enforcement, community groups and members of the public—tasked with following up on transparency and accountability. The next step is for that workgroup to propose a process to identify patterns or practices of profiling, identify methods to address and correct these practices and biased policies, and prepare a report identifying any additional statutory changes that are needed to achieve these goals.
People in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color are targeted the most, leading to higher arrest and conviction rates among people of color generally—and African-Americans specifically. Many are already struggling to make ends meet and risk harsher penalties and extra fees when they can’t afford to pay the fines that often result from unfair profiling—putting their jobs on the line and their families at risk.
While the Oregon legislature passed legislation to ban police profiling in 2015, there is still no structure in place to effectively identify, record, and correct any profiling practices by Oregon law enforcement agencies.
By ending profiling, Oregon will start to change the culture of policing, making neighborhoods safer and communities stronger.
Quinton Blandon’s Story
For the past three years, I have been attending college at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon. While the campus certainly has not been a safe haven from bigotry, it is the Newberg police department that has provided me with my most racist experiences to date. One evening, while I was walking home from the gym, a squad car with two officers drove up on the side of me. The driving officer then slowed the car to the pace I was walking, both officers were looking at me like they wanted to get out the car and kill me. I was horrified but stood my ground and stared back. After about twenty seconds of eye contact between the officers and I, the driving officer began to speed up and slow down in short spurts. After thoroughly intimidating me for about one minute, the two officers finally sped off at about 60 miles per hour with their blue and red lights on. I was so scared after they left, I ran the remaining 60 yards home breathing heavily, feeling unsafe, and shaking. At that particular moment I knew the police in Newberg could not be trusted and that I was a target for their harassment, misconduct, and profiling. As awful as this incident may sound, this was not the last time I would be left feeling violated by the Newberg police.
On the night of November 24, 2012, I was walking home from a friend’s house. When I got one house down from where I lived, a police car turned the corner and drove past me head on, after the officers drove fifty yards past me, they turned off their headlights, turned on their red and blue lights, and began speeding towards me at more than 70 miles per hour. The driving officer jumped out of his vehicle with his hands on his utility belt. I asked, “what’s the problem officer?” to which he responded, “you were walking in the middle of the street.” I replied, “no I wasn’t sir.” That’s when the officer drew his gun, pointed it at me, and began walking towards me. I was so scared I tried running home. Unfortunately, I only got as far as my neighbors yard. While frantically yelling for help, an officer approached me with his flashlight in my face, threw me to the ground, and twisted my hands behind my back so hard, I felt my left shoulder pop out of socket. I immediately told the officers about the pain I was in but I didn’t get offered any medical attention. I was stood up and escorted by an officer to the street with about ten or more other officers surrounding me. After asking why I was stopped, an officer responded, you were in the street, which I am certain I was not. I then said,” this is so unfair” An officer then blurted out, “ Geez! You guys need to stop blaming everyone else for what happens to you and take responsibility for you guys’ action, you all would be a lot better off if you did.” One officer reinforced this statement under his breath by stating, “that’s right N-word.” An officer then searched me without my consent, and when I asked for badge cards, all the arresting officers’ refused to provide me with theirs.
It is needless to say this experience was life changing for me. The encounters I’ve had with the Newberg police particularly the latter have severely traumatized me. Whenever I see a police car, my heart begins to race, I sweat beads, and I become bogged down by anxiety. As a result of consistently being terrorized by the Newberg police, I am not only fearful of the police but I do not want to support or assist them in any way. Of course not all cops are bad and I have had some positive encounters with the police, but the bad experiences outweigh the good by far, therefore, it has become apparent to me I’m a citizen who is protected and served but I am also extremely vulnerable to police brutality because I am a black male.
Also, in both encounters, I was charged with a host of misdemeanors that I did not earn and my life went into a tailspin. After that night, I was suspended from my second semester of college, I had to quit my job, and also, I’m finding it a lot harder to find a job and housing.