We have all been here before
Speaking of Topics A and B, I had on the top of my to-do list, writing something about the police. The demonstrators are out there every night in Portland, and I've been trying to think ahead to how all the current hubbub is going to end.
Back in the days of the original blog, there were a handful of questionable killings at the hands of the Portland police. Remember Kendra James, James Jahar Perez, Aaron Campbell, James Chasse, Dennis Young, Keaton Otis? A lot of outrage was in the air, including on my part, but the structures for policing the police didn't change for the better.
The Po-po seem to have cleaned up their act a little from a decade ago. They haven't killed so many people lately. But if they do, what happens next won't fit most people's definition of justice.
At the heart of the problem is the police union contract, which has never had meaningful civilian review in it and still doesn't. Not making matters any better is the fact that the City Council is scared to death of standing up to the police union. It's almost as if the cops have dirt on the council members.
Anyway, what was going to be a lengthy research process for me just got a whole lot easier, because this morning "Maximum" Maxine Bernstein at The Oregonian published this piece, which sums up pretty well where things stand at the present.
The only way change is going to come is through that union contract. And the police aren't going to let serious change happen there, unless the City Council stands up to them. There would have to be a major labor dispute – even a work stoppage of some kind by the cops.
I say, bring it on. It's way past time.
To make things more interesting, there's a wild card on the table at the moment: the new county district attorney, Mike Schmidt. He ran for the office as an outsider, which is why I voted for him. Up until now, the DA's office has always used grand juries as a way to exonerate police officers who commit criminal homicide. Maybe things will be different under new management.
But I wouldn't bet on that. Or on a new police contract. The kids had better keep marching.