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Check out the background information about this news release UPDATED! May 8, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 25, 2016
PORTLAND POLICE BOYCOTT OF OVERSIGHT MEETINGS ROOTED IN DISPUTE OVER VIDEOGRAPHEROn April 20, the Citizen Review Committee (CRC) had to postpone hearing an appeal of misconduct because the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) refused to send any employees to attend. While the decision was presumed to be a result of a community member tossing a cup of water at a CRC member on March 30, public records received by Flying Focus Video Collective (FFVC) reveal that the Bureau was seeking a way out of the meetings for months.
A dispute fostered mostly by CRC member Angelo Turner, who resigned sometime prior to the March 30 meeting, centered around where FFVC videographer Dan Handelman was standing with his video camera to tape the meetings. (Handelman also attends the meetings on behalf of Portland Copwatch [PCW], a civilian group promoting police accountability, and makes comments on behalf of PCW during public comment periods.) The discussion sometimes broadened out to discuss media in general, but mostly was focused as a personal or political rebuke to FFVC. Flying Focus is a media organization that has produced programs about civilian oversight since 1992 (see <http://www.flyingfocus.org/ffvc22.html>). The records reveal this discussion began as early as November 2015.
The emails show that Mr. Turner-- no direct relation to Daryl Turner, the head of the Portland Police Association (PPA)-- had talked to the Chair and Vice Chair of CRC about making Mr. Handelman move his camera from a location behind the table where police sit to the back of the room with the general public. In a December 2 email, CRC member Turner wrote: "Imagine yourself sitting at the PPB desk with that camera and these comments behind you the entire meeting. Its [sic] very uncomfortable and all that the POA [sic]* and I asked for was that Copwatch be treated equally-- just like everyone else from the public."
Although Handelman has been standing in the same location for years-- in part because the CRC's original meeting room had no public seating behind the appellants' table opposite CRC, in part because he didn't want officers who know him from Copwatch to feel uncomfortable having him staring at them, but mostly to be sure to see the appellants' faces**-- it appears the Bureau began voicing concerns after Turner had talked to the police in mid-2015. Chair Kristin Malone wrote on February 26: "I did hear a complaint from the bureau personnel at our last case review that she and others were made uncomfortable by being filmed over their shoulders."
At the March 2 CRC meeting, CRC member Kiosha Ford noted that Daryl Turner of the PPA had complained of having the Flying Focus camera "right on their back, right in their face." (Video available at <https://youtu.be/A1X4Ghz03Mo>.)
Angelo Turner appears to then push IPR staff to change the meetings to a different room, but is reminded that he does not have the authority to make that decision. He suggests canceling the meetings until Handelman agrees to move. In a March 2 text Turner says he "think(s) that it's time to flat out tell him he sits with the media and the public. He will bitch and moan but that's ok." On March 3, he notes: "IA [Internal Affairs] staff has repeatedly asked that Mr. Handelman be asked to relocate like anyone else from the public. By doing this, we will increase the odds the PPA will encourage officers to participate in our meetings."
Mr. Handelman has been taping police oversight bodies in Portland since 1992, when the board was known as PIIAC, as a member of FFVC. The taping has never been raised as an issue before. Occasionally, CRC members do not seem familiar with their own protocols. With the staff of the Independent Police Review Division (IPR), which houses CRC, failing to advice the Committee, Mr. Handelman occasionally interjects a point of order to remind them of their rules. This happens maybe 2-3 times a year at monthly or bimonthly meetings.
Handelman says, "What bothers me the most about all this is that these discussions happened behind closed doors. From its inception, CRC has done all of its business in public. Nobody ever discussed with me directly the reasons they were asking me to move my camera."
Flying Focus has gone on record to say that while it is true the City may impose reasonable time, place and manner restrictions, the CRC is going too far. "It is reasonable to ask that videographers not move around in a distracting way. It is reasonable to ask that videographers not block the view of other participants.
"It is not reasonable to ask videographers to stand somewhere that they can't capture the community members testifying to the Committee."
IPR incorrectly categorized the records request and asked only for emails among CRC members, which means emails to/from the PPB and/or PPA were not included in this first batch of emails. Flying Focus will follow up.
Ten pdfs of the various communications are posted on the Flying Focus website at <http://www.flyingfocus.org/crc2016.html> along with a narrative explaining each email.
The CRC is holding a special meeting to talk about its ground rules on Tuesday April 26 from 5-6 PM a the Lovejoy Room in City Hall. For more information contact Flying Focus Video Collective at (503) 239-7456 or firstname.lastname@example.org
* Police Officers Association is a term for organizations similar to the PPA
** The layout of the original meeting room can be seen in a clip from a 2013 CRC meeting at <https://youtu.be/_zrDx-vVjCU>. There is nowhere a videographer could stand to capture the proceedings other than where Handelman located his camera.
Page posted 4/26/16, updated 5/8/16
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