Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

KBOO Stands For Love

KBOO has released a statement about the death threats to the organizers of the Good in the Hood event this weekend.   I was happy to work on this statement with others.   We hope that the multicultural celebration will get a great turnout and show that love not hate is our guiding ethic.

I would certainly be there this weekend, but Lovely is taking me on a cruise as summer vacation begins for her on Friday.   Anyway, here is the statement from KBOO.

***

Published date: 
Friday, June 16, 2017 - 3:00pm
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact Information
Gil Cardon and Delphine Criscenzo
KBOO Station Co-Managers
- See more at: http://kboo.fm/blog/58609#sthash.ZJo5l1vB.dpuf

KBOO Takes Stand for Love
PORTLAND, OR ­­­-The KBOO Foundation Board and its staff denounces violence and threats of violence in the Portland metro and reaffirms its commitment to resist hate with love. In response to:
  • attacks on the MAX that resulted in the stabbing deaths of Rick Best and Taliesin Namkai-Meche, the wounding of KBOO volunteer Micah Fletcher, and the harassment of two young women
  • a letter containing death threats to Good in the Hood president, Shawn Penney, and a threat of violence to the upcoming Good in the Hood event, June 23-25
  • transphobic graffiti in a Beaverton school
  • and a rise of Islamophobic, racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, and white supremacist rhetoric and actions in the Portland metro…
KBOO reaffirms its commitment to resist hate with love, ignorance with understanding, fear with courage, and despair with hope.  
For nearly 50 years, KBOO Community Radio has devoted its broadcast frequencies, and more recently its web presence, to the diverse voices of our community. We must step up to be even more assertive in resisting oppression and our KBOO community is committed to respond to hate by understanding its systemic structure and taking courageous action.
In addition to broadcasting dynamic programming from diverse sources to engage Portland and the world with radical love, and supporting conversation about oppression within our own community, KBOO has developed a strategic vision for 2017-2020 “to deepen its internal and external connections to build "The Beloved Community."
The KBOO Foundation Board and its staff encourage the community’s organizations, businesses, schools, religious institutions, police forces, media outlets, and government offices to join us to consciously and actively reduce systemic oppression within their organizations. KBOO also encourages all individuals to attend the....
25TH ANNUAL GOOD IN THE HOOD
MULTICULTURAL MUSIC, ARTS & FOOD FESTIVAL
June 23 - 25, 2017
LIllis Albina Park (North Flint Street & Russell Street, Portland, OR 97227)
KBOO invites everyone in its listening area to partner with us and build the Beloved Community.
KBOO broadcasts at
90.7 fm in Portland
104.3 fm in Corvallis
91.9 fm in Hood River
and worldwide at www.KBOO.FM
*************************

KBOO Community Radio's Mission: KBOO is an independent, member-supported, non-commercial, volunteer-powered community radio station. KBOO embodies equitable social change, shares knowledge, and fosters creativity by delivering locally rooted and diverse music, culture, news, and opinions, with a commitment to the voices of oppressed and underserved communities.

Monday, June 19, 2017

My Greeting at the Embrace Festival

 I thought I would share the text of the presentation I gave at the Embrace Festival that took place May 4-6 in Portland.  I was on the panel that opened the event.

***

My name is John Shuck. You can remember my name by thinking of Oh Shucks, or shucking corn or shucking oysters, or shuck and jive. That is the name of a blog I wrote regularly for awhile, since 2006 and now sporadically. Shuck and Jive.

I have been a Presbyterian minister for almost 25 years.

I currently serve a congregation in the Portland Metro called Southminster Presbyterian Church. It is in Beaverton. It is one of the sponsors of this event. It is my fourth congregation.

I also host a radio program and podcast called Progressive Spirit.  A weekly hour long interview show with authors, scholars and activists about social justice, spirituality, religion, politics, science, sex.

I record and produce the program at a community radio station here in Portland, 90.7 KBOO. I volunteer there and engineer and host Democracy Now on Mondays and Thursdays and I currently serve on the board of KBOO. I want to talk about this station a little bit because this radio work is my avocation, my hobby, my passion. My wife says I have two fulltime jobs, my church job and my radio work. Only one of them pays.

But the radio work pays in important ways. My radio work keeps me sane. It also keeps me informed. It requires me to speak from the heart in my job as a minister. The Latin root word for heart is cor. Think coronary. Also think courage. Same root word. Courage and heart. To have a heart, a big heart, is to be courageous and to be courageous means having a big heart. My work at KBOO is the inspiration for me to be courageous to have a heart.

KBOO has been in existence for nearly 50 years in Portland. It is one of the early community stations. It provides a variety of programming and at the center of it are its volunteers. I want to share with you KBOO’s vision statement:
Vision Statement and Charter:
  • KBOO fearlessly strives to deliver powerfully just, lovingly eclectic, vibrantly provocative grassroots content while honoring our growing radical revolutionary legacy. 
  • KBOO commits to providing an inclusive, empowering atmosphere to decolonize mass consciousness with humility and integrity, making a lasting and evolving impact on our communities. 
  • KBOO embraces a creative climate that emphasizes fun, truth, beauty, joy, peace, love, and justice.
This community radio station is in effect a sacred community that participates in social transformation.

Is it perfect? Ha! Of course not, it is filled with humans. Of course, we have conflicts and hassles and budgets and everything else. But it is a community. A community that has heart.

Here is my point. We need communities with heart. I will speak for myself. I need such a community. I need it because I need to be reminded, prodded, and challenged to speak from heart, live from the heart, and be courageous. Courage and heart to speak truth.

We live in a country that lives by lying. In fact, lying, falsehoods, dissembling, has become so popular that our leaders don’t even fake it. None of our institutions from churches, to government, to corporations, to media, to education are speaking primarily from the heart, speaking the truth with courage.

The reason is pretty clear. Truth-telling is not rewarded with promotion or status or material wealth. When I am talking about truth and courage and heart I am not talking about being absolutely right. I am talking about being true to ourselves and valuing what is true.

I am going to speak about three people very quickly who I admire as people of courage and heart. Two of them are here and will speak at this festival.

Matthew Fox is a truth-teller. He told the truth that theological doctrines such as original sin and many others were not true and thus harmful. He wrote a book called Original Blessing. You will hear his story, but in short, he was booted from the Catholic church because he wouldn’t shut up about sharing what he thought was true even as it cost him his ordination. It was no small thing. He continues to tell the truth about our peril and our possibility. You are fortunate to be able to hear Matthew this weekend.

The second person in my trinity is Gretta Vosper. She is also going to be speaking today. She told the truth of what she thought about theological matters including concepts of God and has been viewed as unsuitable by her denomination, the United Church of Canada. I will let her tell her story, but what I found courageous and heart-full about Gretta is that she followed her heart in working with her congregation because she respected them enough to talk about what is life-giving and real. She said honestly what other clergy have for whatever reasons been unable or unwilling to say. You are fortunate to be able to hear Gretta this weekend.

The third person is not here this weekend. I think he will be remembered as one of the most important theologians in the 21st century, even as he did most of his scholarly work in the 20th. His name is David Ray Griffin. That’s right, David Ray Griffin the “conspiracy theorist.” Did you now that the label ‘conspiracy theorist’ was invented by the CIA in the 1960s to discredit critical thinking of official government narratives? Just say “conspiracy theory” often enough and no one will ever have the courage to examine the evidence for themselves.

David Ray Griffin became the first scholarly voice of the 9/11 truth movement, the movement to challenge the official government conspiracy theory. He has written perhaps 10-12 books on the topic, one published by my own denominational publishing house. Those who were responsible for publishing it lost their jobs. I am not saying anything more about 9/11 except as it relates to courage.

Last week the American Institute of Architects had their annual meeting. Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth made a resolution that there is sufficient evidence to open a new investigation into 9/11 because world trade center 7 that was not hit by a plane and that collapsed at near freefall speed into its own footprint later in the afternoon on 9/11 could not have collapsed by fire. The best scientific hypothesis is controlled demolition.

The AIA voted against the resolution just within the last couple of days. Only 4% voted in favor. Why? The Official statement was that WTC 7’s collapse “has been investigated thoroughly by competent authorities with reasonable conclusions.”

Members of Architects and Engineers for 911 truth interviewed about two dozen delegates who had voted no. They discovered this:
The vast majority of these delegates indicated no disagreement with the argument that WTC 7 did not collapse from fire. In fact, nearly half of them agreed that it was likely — if not completely evident — that WTC 7 was brought down in a controlled demolition. 
Nonetheless, most of them voted “no” because, as they put it, this was an issue the AIA should not take on. “It’s not our responsibility as architects,” some said. Others felt it was time to move on. One of those who agreed that WTC 7 was demolished said he thought it would have little impact if the AIA took a stand on the issue. Perhaps most unsettling, though, were the few architects who said they simply didn’t care."
I am sharing this little anecdote because I am grateful for people like David Ray Griffin. I am grateful for people who risk their reputations, often their livelihoods because they feel that a truth needs to be told.

Sacred Communities and Social Transformation cannot be a marketing ploy. Regardless of what you think about 9/11, we are in deep trouble. We are facing serious crises to our planet and we have people in positions of power doing horrible things. They think they will get away with it because they know that like those architects who knew better but kept silent, most people won’t care.

I don’t care what your religion is or how you celebrate and lament and what philosophy guides you, but I do care about being in a community that supports truth-telling, and encourages it.

I hope you have one or find one.

Thanks.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Celebrating Ramadan is The Most American Thing We Can Do


Over 1000 people attended the Ramadan Tent Project PDX Open Iftar 2017 at the Muslim Educational Trust in Tigard over the Memorial Day Weekend.    I was able to attend the first night and hear the liberating speech of Aneelah Afzali as she dismantled stereotypes of women in Islam and provided the factual history of the liberating work of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on behalf of women.    She and the university students who organized this event are true American patriots.   They represent a voice of America and Islam that is courageous, compassionate, collaborative, and strong.    I could have listened to her speak all night.

Aneelah Afzali

This first night of Ramadan began with grief and shock as throughout the day we heard the news of the fatal stabbing on the MAX in Northeast Portland.   Two men had their throats slashed as they attempted to defend two young women who were being harassed.   A third man was sent to the hospital with injuries.  The reports were that the assailant had been saying anti-Muslim sentiments at the young women that accompanied a barrage of hateful comments in general.   The men stepped in to protect them and were attacked.

The Muslim community responded by raising funds for the families of these men, and as of this blog post over $450,000 has been raised under the banner "Muslims Unite for Portland Heroes."   The Portland Mercury has a list of other places raising funds for the surviving hero and the for the teenage girls who have been traumatized.


In addition to grief and shock I saw determination and hope at the Open Iftar.   Various politicians were there and some spoke and that is a good thing.   But the revolution needed in our country that will overcome hatred and bullying will be led by the young women and men who organized this event and the rest of us who follow their example.

The Ramadan Tent Project 2017 Team

They gave us a glimpse of what America is becoming by generously offering their beautiful tradition of fasting and service and an open table to everyone.    While I am a strong supporter of the separation of religion and state, still I would like Ramadan to be celebrated and acknowledged by our nation.   It is a celebration that embodies the best of our American values.


The Crescent Moon at Sunset 
I despair daily over America with its legacy of slavery, racism, genocide, imperialism, xenophobia, and selfishness.   This Open Iftar showed me that there is another star rising in our nation.   It is led by the radical hospitality that is embodied in the spirit of Ramadan and in these youth who are inviting us to be human beings.  
   

Hanan Al-Zubaidy Announcing the Call to Prayer

Hear interviews with organizers, Sadaf Assadi and Hanan Al-Zubaidy:

OPB Think Out Loud
Progressive Spirit (34:48)
Sprouts on Pacifica Radio Network

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Ramadan Tent Project Portland!


Ramadan Tent Project 

You are invited to an open Iftar, Saturday, Sunday and Monday  evenings (May 27, 28, 29) at the Muslim Educational Trust.   It is a great opportunity to enjoy a meal (provided by the students) and experience an inter-faith celebration!   It is the Ramadan Tent Project Portland.  It begins at 7:30  pm each evening.  

Here is an interview I had with the two organizers Sadaf Assadi and Hanan Alzubaidy on the Pacifica Radio Network. 

They were also interviewed on OPB's Think Out Loud today.  Listen here.   

They could get a big crowd.  You can help them purchase food by donating here

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Inequality for All

We continue our Tuesday evening study/discussion group, "The Church Beyond Its Walls" with the film Inequality For All featuring former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich.   During Sunday's sermon, Yahweh Goes Camping, I broached the topic of inequality and its corrective through the Jubilee Year in Leviticus 25:
I offer a challenge to those of us with modern sensibilities. In Leviticus 25 we learn about the Year of Jubilee or in the Contemporary English Version, the Year of Celebration. Leviticus 25:10: 
“This fiftieth year is sacred—it is a time of freedom and celebration when everyone will receive back their original property, and slaves will return home to their families.” 
This is radical. This rule makes Bernie Sanders look like a neo-con. Every fifty years we start over. All the money the wealthy made and the land they possessed gets redistributed. Imagine that. Written in to the constitution is redistribution of wealth so that you won’t end up with a wealthy few controlling the lives of the many.
Here is a statistic that should boil our blood:
With a combined worth of $2.34 trillion, the Forbes 400 own more wealth than the bottom 61 percent of the country combined, a staggering 194 million people.
I really don't like Yahweh much. He thinks too highly of himself, is petty, jealous, abusive, and kind of weird. He likes the smell of cooked meat and to be surrounded by nice things.  But, he does kick butt. If Yahweh were real, I bet he'd kick some billionaire butt.
Leviticus 25 that describes this Year of Jubilee is the climax of the Book of Leviticus. The book leads up to this. This is what it is really about. Yahweh says in 25:23: 
"No land may be permanently bought or sold. It all belongs to me—it isn’t your land, and you only live there for a little while." 
Petty, angry, jealous Yahweh said that. It is the most radical verse in the Bible. It is the most radical statement ever made. None of our economists or jurists or legislators or executors or professors or bureaucrats or smart people in general have ever come up with anything as radical as Leviticus chapter 25. 
If you want to be holy as Yahweh is holy, if you want to love your neighbor as yourself, if you want to live sustainably and survive in the land that Yahweh is renting to you, then every 50 years, redistribute. Start over and don’t cheat. 
This rule is not based on charity or voluntarily giving up the wealth. This is the law written into the constitution itself. Justice is not charity. If we are to live justly on Earth, justice must be established by force of law. If this isn’t happening, then it is time for revolution.... 
Inequality in which 400 billionaires own over half the nation’s wealth is not inevitable. It is not part of the human condition. It is not the result of the wealthy working harder than the rest of the population. It is theft at a grand scale. Every day in our country whatever protections we have left are being whittled away by these monsters who are in power and who have been gaining power for a long time. Until we begin to name this theft for what it is, we will never change it.
Where have you gone, warrior Yahweh?
Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth

Tonight at 7 pm we will watch the film, 9/11: Explosive Evidence Experts Speak Out.   I have determined that AE911Truth is doing solid work and does not chase after "conspiracy theories."  They focus on the science of the destruction of the three skyscrapers on 9/11.   They don't speculate on other issues surrounding that day but instead they present the evidence and the best scientific descriptions of that evidence.   They do seek one thing:  an independent investigation of 9/11.
Our mission is to research, compile, and disseminate scientific evidence relative to the destruction of the three World Trade Center skyscrapers, calling for a truly open and independent investigation and supporting others in the pursuit of justice.



Beyond Misinformation: What Science Says About The Destruction of World Trace Center Buildings 1, 2 and 7 is a helpful book that accompanies the film.  Everyone who attends tonight will get a photocopy of the pdf.  

Last week I offered my own personal journey through 9/11 and tonight I let the film speak for itself and invite whatever discussion arises.   If you think enough doubt is raised with the film to at least question the official narrative of what happened on 9/11, you will be interested in signing this petition from the 911Truth Action Project either on-line or I will have paper petitions available tonight as well.  It reads:
I hereby petition for, and demand, an independent, comprehensive investigation, satisfying all standards specified by the 9/11 Truth Action Project, including subpoena power, testimony under oath, and study of all relevant evidence, leading to transparency and accountability for the crimes of September 11, 2001 and justice for its victims. My name, city, and state will be publicly presented to Congress at www.911TAP.org. My other information will remain private and not released to third parties.
I have signed the above statement. If you are an architect or engineer, the AE911Truth welcomes your support.

Invite friends and neighbors.

Tonight, Tuesday May 23rd.  Room 7.  7-8:30 pm.








Tuesday, May 16, 2017

How I Became A Truther

I have been a "truther" since I read David Ray Griffin's book, Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11 that was published by my denomination's publishing house, Westminster John Knox Press. At first, some took what he had written seriously.  A study guide was created for helping church people digest it.

PCUSA staff weren't quite sure how to approach the book.  Chris Iosso provided a rather odd review in Presbyterian Outlook in which he tries to distance himself from Griffin "However my own suspicions work against the book's argument" but offers no "suspicions" and essentially praised Griffin's scholarship.    As it turned out, after pressure from conservatives the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation apologized for publishing it, ceased its connection with the book, and "departed" those responsible for publishing it.  (From 9/11 and Nationalist Faith, lecture by Professor Griffin):
Godshall, moreover, did not merely censure my book and Westminster John Knox for publishing it. The two men at the press who made the decision to publish it were soon to depart. 
According to the story in the Louisville-Courier Journal, “Godshall said no one would be disciplined for approving the book” and that “the board would continue to defend the editorial independence of the corporation.” 
In fact, however, Godshall began micromanaging, so Davis Perkins, who was already angry at Godshall for having apologized for the publication of my book, resigned as president and publisher of Westminster John Knox to take another position. One week later, Jack Keller, the vice president for publication, was fired. 
What is the message? While Jack Keller was vice president for publishing at WJK, it had published several books by me. One of them, God, Power, and Evil, rejects the traditional doctrine of omnipotence. It even specifically criticizes this doctrine as held by John Calvin, the founding theologian of the Presbyterian Church. Another book explicitly denies that God can interrupt the world’s normal causal relations, which means that there can be no miracles as traditionally understood and no infallibly inspired scriptures. But no one was fired for publishing these books. No one screamed that by publishing these books, the press was implying that the Presbyterian Church accepted these ideas. 
So what is the message to publishers at church presses? It is that they can publish books that are highly critical of traditional Christian doctrines without losing their jobs. But they had better not publish anything that challenges the idea that America is fundamentally good, the exceptional nation, because this is the one religious belief that cannot be challenged.
Here we are ten years after its publication and sixteen years after the events of 9/11. Does uncovering the truth and demanding a full investigation into 9/11 still matter?    I believe it does because of all the death and destruction that has happened (and continues to happen) because of 9/11.  Most importantly for me it matters because truth matters.   Tonight I continue our Tuesday night series, "The Church's Role Beyond Its Walls."

I tell my own story of how I became suspicious of the government's official conspiracy theory and why I think it is important for Americans to take action and demand an independent investigation.   Next week we will watch the film by Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, "9/11: Explosive Evidence--Experts Speak Out."

Here is the description of what will happen tonight and next week on the website:
The Church’s Role Beyond Its Walls, Tuesdays from 7-8:30 pm, Room 7 
May 16 - John’s personal journey through 9/11 tying together 9/11, The Myth of Redemptive Violence, The Myth of American Exceptionalism, and Resource Depletion, especially Peak Oil. 
May 23 - (Film) “9/11: Explosive Evidence: Experts Speak Out” by Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth. www.ae911truth.org We will keep options open regarding the remaining Tuesdays if there is interest in discussing these topics further or other topics. John will continue discussions and films for those who are interested. We will decide that on May 23rd.

Childcare is provided.  The public is invited.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

The Church's Role Beyond Its Walls

"The Church's Role Beyond Its Walls" is the title of a series of educational events at Southminster beginning tonight and every Tuesday through June.   We have started the Tuesday night sessions that are open to the larger community since November.  We have had forums on houselessness and dismantling racism as well as forums on how to respond to the new political situation especially on behalf of those most vulnerable.   We spent several weeks reviewing the history of the Civil Rights movement by watching Eyes on the Prize.  Now we are moving into another phase.

The Tuesday night gatherings called "Building the Beloved Community" are for empowerment and community building as well as education.   The evening runs from seven to eight-thirty.   Some of the topics may include:

  • Sanctuary Churches as a safe place for undocumented workers.
  • Protecting the Right to Free Speech (particularly the right to protest).
  • Freedom of Religion (i.e. discuss ban Muslims from entering the U.S.)
  • A Humane Guest Worker Program
  • Medical Fairness and Care for All A Moral Budget as opposed to a Militarized Budget.
  • Education Fairness (should college be free?)
  • Worker Fairness and the right to unionize.

There is plenty to talk about.  I am going to kick off the series with three presentations entitled "Ethics As Worlds End" on my personal theological/political journey through exploring 9/11, peak oil, and the end of religion.    I suggest that two powerful myths that guide Americans are "The Myth of Redemptive Violence" and "The Myth of American Exceptionalism."   I will try to describe what these myths are and how they operate in our culture toward destructive ends, ultimately our demise.

The task of theology (and thus the role of the church beyond its walls) is to give words and stories to the myths that guide us and to offer counter-myths, myths of resistance and myths of hope.    I think this is what Jesus did when he offered his parables of the kingdom of God in opposition to the kingdom of "this world" (i.e. Caesar).

Some of the thinkers I will draw from are the late Walter Wink (myth of redemptive violence)Stephen Walt (myth of American exceptionalism), and David Ray Griffin, (American exceptionalism and nationalist faith).

This is my personal story.  What I mean by that is that I will present what I think I know and let others draw their own conclusions.  I won't argue about or resist other views.  My ultimate goal is to keep a conversation going about the crucial importance of critical thinking about who we are, what we are doing, and where we are going.

Join us?

Every Tuesday night from May 2 through June 20.    We meet in Room 7 at Southminster.  Seven p.m.  Everyone is welcome.


 

Friday, April 07, 2017

Calling Out Portland on Its Racism

The Oregonian printed my letter to the editor.
I like Portland. I like it enough to call it out on its racism. Redemption is possible.

Portland, I have heard, is the place where young people go to retire. Unless they are black. The black young people end up being targeted and profiled by police. It is no surprise but a preventable tragedy that Quanice Hayes was killed by Portland police officer Andrew Hearst.

I spoke to Quanice's mother. I read the grand jury transcript. I am not satisfied. Regardless of the justifications offered by the police, the outcome is clear: A kneeling, unarmed 17 year-old child was killed by a bullet to the head and two to the chest. Whatever this child might have done that night, and however scared the officer might have been of him, there is no justification for this. While the police may have thought Quanice was a threat, it is more likely that racism got the better of the officer and he panicked.

That is no surprise. Portland has a long, violent history of racism. If Portland is going to change outcomes and rid itself of the cancer of racism, concrete actions need to be taken.

First, there needs to be a federal investigation into this case. Second, we need a special prosecutor, not a grand jury, when police use fatal force. Third, we need to end profiling. Fourth, police need body cameras.

Portland can do better. We are in this together.

John Shuck, Beaverton
A few days after I recorded the interview on Progressive Spirit with Venus Hayes, the mother of Quanice Hayes, and Teressa Raiford of Don't Shoot Portland, the grand jury decided not to indict Portland police officer, Andrew Hearst.    That decision by the grand jury was expected and wrong.

When I say the decision was wrong, that does not necessarily mean Officer Hearst was guilty.   It means that he should have faced trial.   Perhaps the outcome might have been the same and he would have been found not guilty of wrongdoing.    But the trial would have allowed it to be open to the public and to allow for cross-examination of witnesses.   It would have also have allowed the family and friends of the victim talk about the character of Quanice Hayes and see him as a human being whose life mattered.

The 500 page grand jury transcript was released on March 27th.  It is interesting reading.

Officer Hearst admitted that he did not see that Quanice had a gun:
Q.   I understand your testimony, you did not actually see a gun in his hand at the time that you pulled the trigger in your rifle; is that correct?
A. That's correct. I did not see.  (p. 506)
Hearst just believed that Quanice had a gun.   Some have objected to my writing that Quanice was unarmed.   We don't know.  The officer didn't see a gun.  We don't know if Quanice had it on him or not.   It was found on the ground after he was shot.  Why would Quanice reach for a fake gun when an officer with a very real gun is pointing it at him?   If possessing a fake gun is the same as being armed, then I would love to see cops armed with fake guns.

As far as the grand jury testimony was concerned, the questions to witnesses were softball questions without any cross-examination.    All we have is the word of the cops (who obviously will stick up for each other) that the victim didn't have his hands in the right place.  The grand jury seemed to be led to the conclusion that Quanice was some dangerous threat and that the only possible solution was what resulted.

As I said in my letter to the Oregonian:

1) We need a special prosecutor, not a grand jury, for incidents of fatal police shootings.

2) This particular case needs a federal review if for nothing else than to relieve the racial tensions caused by this killing.

3) The police and the entire metro needs to have honest discussions about race, targeting, and profiling.  It needs to end.

4)  We need more police accountability.  Body cameras are a good start.

The killing of a teenager did not make Portland safer.   I am not saying that Quanice did nothing wrong.  Of course not.  If he did what was alleged, he made some seriously bad choices.   He should face the consequences for that.  He will never get to do so now.  But Quanice Hayes was a human being.   He did not deserve death.   There were many other ways to "disarm" him than shooting him dead.   If not, then the populace is in serious trouble.   If the police cannot control themselves more than that then it is the police who threaten our safety rather than act as our protectors.



What does this have to do with racism?

If white people don't think Portland is a racist city, then white people should look at facts.   A good place to start is the recent series by the Portland Tribune entitled,

The High Cost of Being Black in Multnomah County.  
In Multnomah County, ticket by ticket, arrest by arrest, African-Americans are charged three to 30 times as often as white residents for everything from pedestrian and transit fare violations to drug charges and crimes related to interactions with police.  For black people in Multnomah County, unequal treatment in the criminal justice system is nothing new.  Lauretta Reye Austin, 22, described being hassled by a cop while waiting at a MAX station.

Teressa Raiford, 46, and a leader of Don’t Shoot PDX, said it was only after talking to white girls that she learned police didn’t know all young kids by name — just the black kids.
Need a history lesson?

Exclusion Laws and Poll Taxes: Oregon's unquiet history of racial conflict.

Here is some truth:
'The relationship between blacks and the justice community has always been defined by the reality that police were assigned to keep the black population under control.'

That is the reality of Portland.  Police do what the white power structure instructs them to do.  Racism is our problem.  We are all in this together.

It is painful for white people to realize that they benefit from institutionalized racism, but it is far more painful for those who suffer from it.  Suck it up, white folks.   Read this important series:

Investigate West:  Unequal Justice.

White people like to say, "I'm not racist!  I'm not racist!"

Who are we fooling?  Certainly not people of color.

Let's be part of the solution, not the problem.






Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Say His Name: Quanice Hayes


Quanice Hayes was 17.



On February 9th he was shot three times by Portland police officer, Andrew Hearst.   He was killed.   This is the same police officer who killed Merle Hatch in 2013.  

Why is 17 year old Quanice Hayes dead?  His mother, Venus, would like to know.   She gave a tearful testimony before the city council on Wednesday March 1st.   Here is the transcript:
My name is Venus Hayes and I am the Mother of Quanice, the 17 year old shot and killed by Officer Andrew Hearst February 9th. I would like to thank you all for gathering here today both in remembrance of my son Quanice Hayes and in support of my family’s fight for justice on his behalf. 
It has been 20 days since Quanice was taken from me. The days passing his death have felt like a lifetime for my family, and myself as we’ve patiently waited for city and its officials to provide us answers surrounding the events that took my son’s life. As the details are slowly made available to the public my family has had to bare the burden of piecing together what occurred by fact checking statements given in various social media sites and news outlets rather then receiving them from those working this investigation. 
Since his death we have learned that Officer Hearst, who was also involved in the death of Merle Hatch, shot Quanice a total of 3 times. To clarify earlier statements and news reports my son died immediately as a result of a gunshot wound to his head. 
My son was born and raised in Portland. Quanice was NOT a thug, a gang member or some homeless street kid. He was a funny, adventurous teen who like most kids could at times be a little rebellious. He was my child his life mattered and I want to know WHY he was killed. 
I’m asking the public to stand with my family and me as we seek answers. I am asking the public to stand by us, as we demand justice. Let my son’s life be the means of change. 
We again ask any witnesses of the events leading up to Quanice’s death to reach out to our family attorney Ashlee Albies, the Portland Police, your local pastor or any of the many advocacy groups in Portland. 
Thank you.
What is up, cops?  What is up, Mayor?



We need an indictment.

Portland cops need to stop targeting black people.



White people need to speak up about it.

If it takes disrupting city council meetings to get some justice around here, then so be it.

Don't Shoot Portland.

Black Lives Matter PDX.

Dream Under Siege (conversation with JoAnn Hardesty, Teressa Raiford, Catherine Meeks).

Panel on Racism (presentation by JoAnn Hardesty and Ibrahim Mubarak at Southminster).