Keep the killers off our streets

April 9, 2012

WHEN PORTLAND, Ore., cop Ronald Frashour was fired for killing an unarmed African American man, Aaron Campbell, in January 2010, people here thought this killer cop would be off the streets for good.

Now state arbitrator Jane Wilkinson has ruled that Frashour was unfairly fired--and should have his job back!

Nearly 10 months after the killing, Portland Mayor Sam Adams and Police Chief Mike Reese fired Frashour, saying Campbell didn't pose a threat. But this only came after a campaign of demonstrations outside City Hall organized by the Albina Ministerial Alliance (AMA) to get the killer cop fired. The city also paid $1.2 million in damages to Aaron's family.

Aaron was killed on January 29, 2010. He was distraught by the death of his brother earlier in the day--he became suicidal and was at the home of his girlfriend and her children. The police were called for help.

Aaron's partner and her children had come out of the apartment, and the police had established communication with Aaron. He then emerged, following police commands, walking backwards with his hands above his head. But another officer decided Aaron wasn't following orders well enough, and so he shot Frashour with a beanbag gun. When Aaron got back to his feet and seemed to start running, Frashour shot him in the back with a rifle.

The excessive force in this case is obvious, which is why as many as 200 demonstrators were outside Portland's City Hall on April 2 to protest a decision that could put this killer cop back on our streets.

As Rev. LeRoy Haynes of the AMA told the crowd, "This decision sends a message to the community that no police officer who shoots an unarmed citizen will be held accountable by the judicial and criminal justice system. This decision is outrageous as Trayvon Martin being shot down by a neighborhood watch vigilante." The AMA is calling for the federal Department of Justice to investigate the racism in this case, and the Portland police training program.

Portland has had a number of killings of unarmed people by police. No grand jury has ever indicted any cop. So this decision can only make many citizens very wary of the police, particularly African Americans.

As Haynes concluded: "Until there is justice, we will not go away. We've been on this battlefield before. We've fought too hard, we've marched too long, and we were arrested too many times to go away. We will keep banging on the door until there is justice."

Recent Portland rallies in support of justice for Trayvon Martin and now this decision by the state arbitrator and the quick response of the community can only galvanize the struggle to keep killer cops off our streets and to fight against racism.

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