Police Racism in Portland OR

Portland seems like, and people think it is, a fairly enlightened town. Sadly, things like these incidents of cops hassling crowds at predominantly black events do occur there. In fact, the only case where someone I know was pulled over for DWB (driving while black) was in Portland. One of my wife’s coworkers (a 20something professional female) was pulled over for “having her radio too loud” and spent 20 minutes getting question of all manner of things, but always getting back to how it is that she came to be driving an Infiniti. This incident was within a mile of our house, right by Beaverton Mall, half a mile from where they worked.

The interesting tech wrinkle on this story is how the phonecam immediately moved this from the allegation stage into the “why did this happen” stage. In previous eras, there would have been rounds and rounds of denials, evidence gathering, etc before it would have gotten to this point. Immediately, the Portland Tribune ran a picture from a phonecam and escalated the whole thing. For all the downsides of reduced privacy, this is one of the upsides – when power figures abuse their public trust, they also can no longer do it in privacy.

The Portland Tribune must be reasonably new. I don’t remember such a paper existing when I lived there. I originally found out about all this from Boing Boing. I don’t agree with their headline of ‘”Rodney-King-like” citizen phonecam episode’ though. Although this is bad, it doesn’t compare with situations in which the cops were actually beating people.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.

2 thoughts on “Police Racism in Portland OR”

  1. The Trib is a relatively new addition to the Metro area, but I think it had started up just before you left town. They come out on Tues and Fri: Tues by subscription, Fri for free on your doorstep whether you want it or not. They typically go right into my recycle pile. In a way, they are a “nice” contrast to the Oregonian, tho’ more locally oriented, and *much* more sensationalist, often verging towards a rather yellow hue. For example, a few weeks ago the whole top half of the front page was a picture of a local fertilizer plant (nitrogen/ammonia products) and under the fold was the headline “TOXIC CHEMICALS”. The article was about the various local chemical plants that proportedly have such poor security and as such are likely dangerous targets, and how the reporter got so close to the ammonia tanks with no challenge. They didn’t report how he was stopped long before he got close, he wasn’t carrying any credentials, and they had to call the paper in front of the local sheriff deputies before he was allowed to go free.

  2. Shannon, thanks for the background. I was pretty sure I had never heard of them. When I read the BoingBoing story I was wondering “Don’t they mean the Oregonian?” It also makes sense that they would be the ones attracted to this story. If they are already leaning towards the sensational, it’s a godsend for them to get a story where the truth is already so emotionally charged.

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