[pjw] REPORT BACK: Aaron Campbell/ Stop The Violence event
Peace and Justice Works
pjw at pjw.info
Sun Jan 26 17:14:26 EST 2020
Supporters of justice and peace:
Last night about 70 people came out to remember Aaron Campbell 10 years
after he was killed by Portland Police, and to call for an end to
violence in its many forms.
The event began (and ended) with rousing spirituals from Marilyn Keller,
with an additional powerful song from Alonzo Chadwick along the way.
Pastor Lynne Smouse Lopez officiated. Dr. T Allen Bethel welcomed
everyone to Maranatha Church, then the other co-chair of the Albina
Ministerial Alliance for Justice and Police Reform, Dr LeRoy Haynes,
Jr,, got the crowd on its feet chanting "What do we want? - Justice -
When do we want it? - Now!!!" He relayed the history of the AMA
Coalition leading back to the death of unarmed African American motorist
Kendra James in May 2003.
Marva Davis, mother of Aaron Campbell, spoke passionately about the need
to change the way police conduct themselves, and to go beyond words into
action. She mentioned that she had written a book about her experiences
called "Two Sons in a Day" which reveals previously unreleased
information about former Portland officers telling her the police knew
who Aaron was at the time they killed him. The book's title is a
reference to the fact that another one of her sons, Timothy Douglass,
died of heart failure the morning of January 29, 2010, and Aaron's
contemplating suicide due to that loss led the police to shoot him later
that day, even though Campbell was unarmed.
Pastor Mark Knutson of Augustana Lutheran Church spoke broadly about the
need to end violence, connecting police violence to the gun violence
ravaging the streets of Portland (and many other cities). He is working
with Lift Every Voice Oregon on three ballot measures to limit the use
of assault-type rifles and high-capacity magazines.
Rhonda Smith described herself as once being a victim of domestic
violence, but now considers herself as a survivor. She talked about how
she was able to get out of her situation with the help of family and the
church, and read a poem about overcoming fear.
Romeo Sosa spoke about his experience as an immigrant and helping
immigrants, especially in light of what he referred to as the US
government's war on immigrants. He reminded the crowd that people coming
to the United States are usually doing so to flee violence in their own
countries, only to face violence here.
I was called up as the last speaker to talk about ending war violence. I
have pasted in my talk below as it was a rare opportunity to talk about
why Portland Copwatch is part of a group promoting nonviolence, Peace
and Justice Works.
Dr Haynes closed out the evening by reminding us again that the work for
justice and peace is a marathon, not a sprint.
Thanks to the many PJW/PCW members who attended and to all who helped
make the event happen-- and apologies to those receiving this info on
peace and justice works/portland copwatch
A lot of people don't notice that just about any publication that
includes Portland Copwatch's contact information includes the words "a
project of Peace and Justice Works." When we began in 1992, our peace
group started out demonstrating against the vestiges of the 1991 Iraq
war, but immediately recognized the connections between militarism and
police brutality. They are both expressions of enforcing state policy
Dr. Haynes wanted to make sure the AMA Coalition held a rally against
violence close to the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. It's often
forgotten that one year before he was killed, King delivered one of the
most enduring anti-war speeches of all time railing against the Viet Nam
war and the US military machine in April 1967. The first President Bush
used Dr. King's birthday, January 15, 1991, as a deadline for Iraq to
get out of Kuwait, perhaps to obliterate King's legacy by tying that
date to the first major post cold-war conflict.
The wars that are waged by the United States, like the police violence
in our streets, is predominantly targeted against people of color. How
many people in this room know that in 2019, the United States bombed
Somalia 63 times? While those bombings were happening under Presidents
Bush and Obama, they have increased dramatically under President Trump.
The US also continues to drop bombs in Libya, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and
Afghanistan. War is waged by those with power and wealth in order to
maintain or expand that power and wealth, but the people who fight those
wars are usually people who are poor and lack options for employment.
The recent targeted killing of Iran's General Soleimani by a drone
strike exhibits so many of the symptoms of a worsening US reliance on
violence. It was extrajudicial-- in the same way the police exact the
death penalty on people in our streets as judge, jury and executioner,
so it goes for our robot planes. It was done in an occupied nation-- the
US has been in Iraq since the invasion of 2003, ostensibly to train and
support Iraqi troops. The Iraqi parliament voted to force America out of
its country after the assassination, but failed to follow through,
citing the fear of the Islamic State. In the same way, the police occupy
our communities and promise to fight gang violence while their presence
perpetuates the lack of opportunities which makes joining gangs seem
attractive. And the death of the Iranian general threatened to draw the
US into a larger conflict, which luckily has not happened despite those
in power who wish to take Iran's resources to enrich themselves.
Similarly, the contradictory over-policing and under-policing of black
communities helps lead to pushing people out of traditionally African
American neighborhoods, where gentrification is the local version of
Meanwhile the US continues to spend over $700 billion a year on war
while ignoring our crumbling infrastructure, lack of health care, and
need for affordable housing. The finger is pointed at communities of
color, immigrants and houseless people for seeking government
assistance, when just a fraction of that military budget could provide
jobs, health care and homes for everyone who needs them.
It is time to end the scourge of war and violence, bring our troops home
and use our words, not our weapons, to resolve problems.
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