[pjw] NEWS: Human Rights Commission "taking time off" (aka dissolves)

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Sat May 14 19:30:13 EDT 2016

Greetings supporters of human rights
(and apoligies for crosspost with the Copwatch list)

You may or may not know that Portland had a Human Rights Commission until 1999, 
when the City Council dissolved it, claiming there was no place for advocacy in 
government. In 2008, with a lot of push from our parent group Peace and Justice 
Works, Mayor Tom Potter was able to re-establish a Human Rights Commission, 
under what's now known as the Office of Equity and Human Rights.

However, in much the same way the "Independent" Police Review Division doesn't 
provide adequate staffing or support to the volunteer Citizen Review Committee, 
the OEHR has used staff support to punish the HRC when they did not act in a 
way the professional Office liked. This is in part what led to the decline (and 
disruption) of the HRC's Community Police Relations Committee. However, some of 
the blame has to fall on the Human Rights Commissioners themselves, who have 
been talking at least since last July about this notion of "re-organizing to 
prioritize" their activities. If you can't get that figured out in 10 months 
you need new leadership or outside help.

Below are two pieces-- one which was posted last week by Joe Anybody, local 
media activist (and PCW participant) who attends and videos all the HRC 
meetings, and the other is the HRC's official news release from Tuesday 
announcing their "two- to three-months pause." No meaningful organization, 
especially one that has its mission statement embedded in City Code, should 
stop doing its important work entirely. It's also important to note that at the 
time the "pause" was announced, only 8 of the HRC's 15 seats were filled; 
another person resigned in response to the announcement.

City Council needs to take this body seriously. The OEHR needs to take this 
body seriously. The community needs to express why having a Human Rights 
Commission is important-- especially in a post-Ferguson America.

--dan handelman
--Portland Copwatch
   (a project of Peace and Justice Works)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 10 May 2016 15:27:38
From: Portland Human Rights Commission <tatiana.elejalde at portlandoregon.gov>
Subject: NEWS RELEASE: Human Rights Commission Votes to Reorganize


City of Portland Human Rights Commission Votes to Reorganize


PORTLAND - On May 4, 2016, the Portland Human Rights Commission (HRC) 
unanimously voted to evaluate and improve its organizational structure and 
processes. The reorganization process will involve a two- to three-month pause 
in HRC's monthly public meetings.

"We owe it to the community to build a solid foundation," said Chabre Vickers, 
HRC Chair. "This process of improving our engagement and building capacity will 
help us move our work forward more effectively and provide better outcomes for 
all Portlanders."

In coming months, the HRC will announce its next public meeting on their 
website (http://www.portlandoregon.gov/oehr/hrc) and Facebook page 
(facebook.com/hrc.portland.1 ).

Charged with advising City leaders on human rights issues, the HRC is an 
all-volunteer body that works to eliminate discrimination and bigotry; to 
strengthen inter-group relationships; and to foster greater understanding, 
inclusion, and justice for those who live, work, study, worship, travel and 
play in the City of Portland.

For more information, please contact Tatiana Elejalde at
tatiana.elejalde at portlandoregon.gov
#     #     #
421 SW 6th Ave | Suite 500 | Portland, OR 97204

The Portland HRC and CPRC "Fizzle" out and decide to take a break
    author: Joe Anybody

    The Portland Human Rights Commission has now taken on a two (+?) month
    recess to discuss their mission and core foundation structure. The
    meeting yesterday was short and to the point. [That HRC May meeting
    video coming soon]. Is this a break in their meetings or is the HRC
    commission slipping down the slope of no return.

    The Portland Human Rights Commission as per their meeting yesterday
    announced that the monthly volunteer commission; now have "paused" the
    next 2 monthly meetings / suggested by the HRC Executive Committee and
    voted on by the members present today.

    Their idea is to step back - refocus - get their groups basics /
    foundation squared away regarding their mission and the services they
    want to be engaged in.

    As of last month they were short 3 HRC members (yet) 9 applications
    have been collected to date. But no body appointed (yet). Rebecca (HRC
    member) quit by calling in right before the meeting today. (no reason
    was mentioned). The HRC formed their commission in 2008 under Mayor
    Potter. [  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lk7SG6zGuBU ]

    Marcie (HRC member) went to the CRC instead of the HRC tonight and I
    don't know how that was perceived by the rest of the commission.

    Ironically and sadly The Citizen Police Relations Committee (CPRC) is
    a sub group / work group under the HRC umbrella, also have not been
    meeting for the past few months nor have they met the expectations of
    their mission and duty. The CPRC seems to be either disbanding or
    "restructuring" like the HRC is now to do. The CPRC has been tasked by
    the city to review and work on racial profiling, police and community
    issues and concerns. This important group has fizzled to the point of
    no return and now the main group seems to be affected by the same type
    of "fizzle". [  http://www.portlandoregon.gov/oehr/62275

    The Executive Committee say the (HRC) will be back in 2 months & the
    pause is NOT because they are being pushed by the city or any other
    group / person etc. to do so.

    HRC won't be represented at the COAB during this two month "break".
    {this was required by the DOJ agreement}
    [  http://www.portlandoregon.gov/oehr/article/514161 ]

    Four HRC members are still going to get together over the next two
    months to pencil out the direction ...and the *new HRC's vision - they
    will be contacting the other members for insight and ideas.

    This is either a slowly sinking ship or its ship resting up and getting
    needed attention and some structural refocusing and reinforcements.
    If this fizzle is anything like their work-group the CPRC, and how that
    work-group fell apart and no longer meets ...then in my opinion there
    is grave concern for the main body of the commission and its ability to
    stay alive and functioning as we want and need it to.

    All HRC past meetings are video and recorded and then archived here:

    Portland Human Rights Commissions Home Webpage

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