The Human Rights Commission joins community members in mourning the tragic death of Mr. Aaron Campbell. We acknowledge and lift up the community’s expression of pain and frustration. We also acknowledge and lift up the concerns of Portland Police officers who now feel at odds with the communities they work hard to serve.
Mr. Campbell’s death has reignited a necessary debate in Portland: a debate on use of force by police, which in times of peace reflects a standing divide between officers and community members, and in times of crisis becomes a deep precipice that fuels mistrust.
In the aftermath of Aaron Campbell’s death, we recognize the progress the Police Bureau has made in handling officer involved shootings. We commend Chief Sizer for separating officers involved in the Campbell incident before they were interviewed, for quickly convening community leaders for a full briefing, and for supporting greater transparency of the Grand Jury proceedings and making information regarding the case widely available to the public.
We appreciate the U.S. Attorney General’s decision to conduct a civil rights inquiry into the actions that led to Mr. Campbell’s death, the investigation, and court proceedings. All of Portland needs to be assured that our civil rights will be held in the highest regard.
The Human Rights Commission will continue to work with the Police Bureau, through its Community and Police Relations Committee to implement the vision of a community that owns its policing functions, where the culture of policing reflects a true partnership and caring for all communities. We will continue to engage police and communities in dialogues that further understanding. Part of our charge is to determine what policies and practices must be enacted to safeguard the human rights of the people of Portland. As a Human Rights Commission we must consider whether police use of force policies and Grand Jury proceedings on officer involved shootings uphold our collective human rights.
In the midst of our community’s grief and mounting frustration, we ask Portlanders not to lose sight of the work that lies ahead. We echo the national call to come together and continue to build a city that is just, responsive and respectful of the dignity and human rights of all its residents.