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This weekend

Negotiation over Portland Police’s union contract— an agreement that critics say shield officers from real accountability— began this week.

This deep dive from KGW takes a broader look at police oversight reform, an that was at the heart of this summer’s Black Lives Matters protest.

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East Portland has been hit hardest by Portland spike in shootings. Willamette Week takes a closer look here.

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Here are two opportunities to honor the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr… including a way you can get involved.

MLK march:

Don’t Shoot PDX is hosting their annual Children’s March and are looking for volunteers to distribute flyers, provide rides, and many other crucial roles.

Learn more about how to participate here.

700 N. Rosa Parks Way * Mon., Jan. 18th * 11 am – 6:30 pm, march @ 1 pm

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2010 MLK tribute:

Next week, The World Arts Foundation is hosting a tribute to MLK on Monday, January 18th. Watch on their YouTube channel here.

“Through a combination of archival footage and contemporary interviews, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ draws inspiration from Dr. King’s mission to ensure peace, social justice, civil rights, and human dignity for all.”

Mon., Jan. 18th * noon – 5 pm

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According to the Montavilla News, a new thrift store opened up on January 7th.

The Arc Thrift Store (8304 SE Stark St.) will sell second-hand clothes and home goods— and also accept donations. The store is open Thursday through Sunday from

Arc of Multnomah-Clackamas, serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 10 am – 5 pm.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 16TH

Vino Veritas is delivering wine and hosting live music… On Saturday is the Ross Garlow Duo.

7835 SE Stark St * 6:30 pm – 9 pm * donations accepted

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Take care and enjoy your weekend!

A holiday trip through time… from one of Montavilla’s historic newspapers

By PATRICIA SANDERS

Montavilla Times, December 19, 1929

How did Montavillans back in the 1920s get in the holiday spirit? Fortunately, there are answers in the Montavilla Times. In December, it ran holiday ads for local businesses, art, stories, poems, cartoons, and short notices about holiday-doings.

The Montavilla Times was one of five to six Montavilla weeklies that covered the neighborhood over the years.

After the demise of the Montavilla News (about 1912) and the Montavilla Sun (1915), Albert E. Hill (1868 – 1940), a veteran newspaper man from Chicago, began the Montavilla Times in 1921. Several editors later, it ceased publication in 1941 or 1942.

It’s not easy to find copies of these old neighborhood newspapers, but fortunately the University of Oregon Knight Library has microfilm copies of the Montavilla Times from 1926 to 1931, the source images in this article. (I’ll have more to say about this and other Montavilla newspapers at a later date.)

Montavilla Times, December 9, 1926

Christmas shopping, as now, was a favorite activity and Larson’s dry goods store had a big variety from toys to garments. In 1926, it was located on NE 80th Avenue just north of SE Stark Street. By 1927, it had moved to what is now 8015 SE Stark, where La Bouffe International Gourmet is today.

Montavilla Times, December 16, 1926

Then there was charity work. The Montavilla PTA and the Glenhaven PTA provide baskets for the Montavilla needy.

Montavilla Times, December 16, 1926

Seasonal humor was a popular filler.

Montavilla Times, December 16, 1926

And, of course, eating out. In 1926, Walter G. Parsons transformed his confectionery store into a restaurant named either for a popular song of the day or the rose variety. Today’s address, 7928 SE Stark Street is now the location of Johnny’s Barber Shop, KB Framing, and the Guitar Studio.

Hear the song here.

Montavilla Times, December 8, 1927

Montavilla Times, December 15, 1927

Back when you had ice and coal delivered, Montavilla Ice and Coal Company supplied both needs. Today the current address, 408 SE 79th Avenue, is home to the Portland Garment Factory.

Montavilla Times, December 16, 1926

Electrical appliances made popular gifts. Today Howard Hardware is Salon Avenue, 7545 NE Glisan Street.

Montavilla Times, December 5, 1929. 

Circle No. 1, a social organization, holds a Christmas party at Mrs. Shuler’s house on Prescott Street. Come dressed as a child or as in old-fashioned garb, they requested; your choice.

Montavilla Times, December 5, 1929

The Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company thinks a telephone would make a great gift, then as now.

Montavilla Times, December 15, 1927

This garage was located on part of the property where Highland Christian Center is today on NE Glisan Street between 76th and 78th Avenues.

Montavilla Times, December 8, 1927

Candies and cigars! This sweet shop was located on a portion of the Highland Christian Center property, but back it was next to the Granada Theatre, which began showing “talkies” (films with sound) on in 1929.

Montavilla Times, December 27, 1928

The Granada Theatre put on special New Year’s Eve programs. The movies would have been silent. This theatre started showing talkies in spring, 1929. The 50 cents admission would be $7.61 today.

Montavilla Times, Dec. 26, 1929 and Dec. 29, 1927

Happy holidays!

***

Historical story ideas? Questions about Montavilla’s past? Also share a love for neighborhood history? 

Comment on the article at the link in the heading. Or you can reach out to Pat Sanders at pat.montavilla.history@gmail.com.

Read all of the “Montavilla Memories” articles by Pat Sanders here.

Portlanders help their unhoused neighbors; and more ways to serve this holiday season

By JULIANNA ROBIDOUX

When Kris Kringle posted on Nextdoor, an app that connects people living in the same neighborhood, about her idea to give back to the growing houseless population living on her street, there were mixed responses from other users.

The post, titled “Adopt a tent(s) in your neighborhood”, said this:

“Hello neighbors, In our neighborhood we have a small pod of tents whose residents have consistently been good neighbors. They keep their area clear of trash, the sidewalk open, and they are quiet.

This Christmas, as a thank you, several of us who live near them are putting together Christmas gift bags for each tent that include consumables (like toothpaste), some treats, along with some new, washed clothing and a gift card to a local food cart.

The gift cards are a double win that also support our struggling food cart owners. I am posting this idea in case other neighbors would like to get together to thank one or more or their houseless neighbors for their considerate behavior this year. (No need to respond to this post.)”

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Many comments were appreciative of the sentiment.

One user said: “Thank you for sharing! I do food box runs periodically and bring to my houseless neighbors. It’s a hard time and sticking together makes a difference.”

Another responded: “This is such a great idea!!”

Some even added suggestions of their own for gift ideas:

“Socks. They will really appreciat[e] getting lots of new socks.”

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The comments section has since been closed but Kringle (who asked that her real name and neighborhood not be used, to avoid more backlash) says her post received its fair share of criticism— the kind that seems to arise from even the most remotely political posts nowadays. Some questioned why she decided to target the tents in her immediate neighborhood and not an encampment growing nearby that has made headlines.

Since the pandemic began, Kringle says that the cluster of tents on her street has grown from three to five single tents with five people living in them.

And her motivation for bestowing a holiday surprise to her houseless neighbors is simple: It’s their cleanliness and courteousness. Any other habits they may have are not of importance to her.

“It doesn’t matter— it’s not my business. I don’t ask my neighbors if they’re using drugs. They’re good neighbors and we work together,” says Kringle.

“My neighbors have a group message. If we’re going to the store we ask ‘does anybody want anything?’ So I put the message out to see if we wanted to provide gifts and a couple of them said ‘yes’ and then I just went to Walgreens and bought some larger gift bags. You can find cotton crew socks for $10.”

Other additions to the bag include home-baked cookies, toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Kringle says she justified her contribution due to the change in her lifestyle that the pandemic brought on:

“For me, I figure what the heck? We’re not traveling for the holidays. We’ve got a huge travel budget.”

Kringle and her neighbors plan on leaving the bags outside of the neighborhood tents on Christmas Eve.

“We want to let them know we appreciate them as neighbors… How good it feels to find a bag outside on Christmas Day and not feel forgotten,” she says.

They plan on including a Christmas card in each gift bag that thanks them for being good neighbors.

“It’s important to recognize that some homeless people are good neighbors.”

Ways to give back this holiday season

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According to Because People Matter, a local organization who keeps an up-to-date count, there are currently 15,917 houseless individuals in the Portland metro area. With the mission statement “Loving People Because People Matter”, BPM creates relational environments that provide “Relief, Mobilization and Transformation.”

One of these environments is Night Strike, a weekly event that happens 47 weeks out of the year on Thursdays at Liberation Street Church on West Burnside Street. According to their website, doors open at 6:30 p.m. and orientation begins promptly at 7 p.m.

Registration is currently closed to volunteers, but they are always accepting cash donations and donations of seasonal and ongoing needs listed online. You can drop off at Liberation Street Church from 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. on Thursdays prior to the weekly Night Strike event. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram @bpmpdx.

Metropolitan Family Service is looking for Holiday Cheer volunteers to “bring the holiday spirit into the homes of over 200 isolated adults.” They need help with gift wrapping, gift bag delivery and visiting, and donations of cash and specific items for the gift bags.

Hands On Greater Portland’s ongoing Volunteer Opportunity Calendar includes plenty of virtual volunteer opportunities.

Union Gospel Mission is offering socially distanced volunteer opportunities that meet City guidelines and limit volunteer groups to 3 – 5 people. If you or a small group of people in your bubble want to pitch in, you can contact the volunteer Director at bernadetteg@ugmportland.org to learn about the current opportunities and to get signed up.

PDX Parent, a local parenting magazine offers a list of 11+ Kid-Friendly volunteer opportunities in Portland. They categorize them by Child-and-Animal-Related, Service / Hunger-related, and Park / Neighborhood Beautification options.

You can also check out this extensive volunteer guide by Eater Portland with mutual aid ideas and opportunities galore.

Or pick up a shift at Oregon Food Bank, with this calendar with opportunities that you can filter by project type, location, ages allowed, and availability.

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Julianna Robidoux is a local freelance writer based in Southeast Portland. Passionate about affordable housing and immigrant rights, she is a regular contributor to The Immigrant Story, a local nonprofit that amplifies the stories of immigrants and refugees. 

Before graduating from PSU in 2019 with a major in international studies, she wrote her senior honors thesis on gentrification and displacement, focusing on the experience of the Eastern African community here. 

When she’s not reporting on social justice issues, you can find her thrifting, enjoying live music or being overly competitive at bar trivia.

Contact Julianna: 

Email: julianna.robidoux@gmail.com

Call / text: (603) 930-0641

Just who was Micco T. Harjo?

By PATRICIA SANDERS

Advertising Card of Indian Territory, Arbuckle Bros. publisher, 1889
Source: New York Public Library Digital Collection

History may be biography, but it’s not just the stories of great women and men. It’s also the stories of each of us who shape a collective story. 

Since I am interested in the story of Montavilla, how could I not be interested in the stories of Montavilla’s second largest population in 1920. Montavilla, was then, as in 2017, predominantly white, but around 60 Blacks were counted in the 1920 United States Census. 

Around this time, newspapers reported on Micco Harjo’s activities as an advocate for civil rights. (See my previous article). Curious about why he became engaged in this early, heightened struggle, I wanted to know more about his life.

We find Harjo (1882 / 1885 – 1947), his wife Eddie Oneida Derrick (1894 / 1895 – 1961), and their two children Wayne Percy (1912 – 1934) and Juanita (1916 – 1937), listed in the 1920 census. They then resided in Montavilla at 205 E. 79th Street (now 845 NE 79th Avenue), a 1914 Montavilla house that still exists. All were born in Oklahoma except three-year-old Juanita, who was born in Oregon. 

Micco, Eddie, and Wayne arrived in Portland around 1913. Before that, they lived in Oklahoma where Micco and Oneida married on November 9, 1911 in Nowata County, which is now part of the Cherokee Nation.

Source: Screenshot Cherokee Nation website

What, I wondered, caused them to leave their Oklahoma community and move to Portland

Was it the pull of opportunities, like more, better paying jobs and other social benefits of a city larger than Nowata? Was it the push of unpleasant or dangerous conditions that was sending large numbers of Blacks out of the southern United States to hopefully safer, more amenable havens? Portland saw its share of these cultural refugees in the 1910s.

While I found no direct evidence, such as family diaries or letters, to explain the move, there is plenty of information describing the radically and rapidly changing conditions of a culturally-diverse Oklahoma.

Probably the most radical changes were those affecting Oklahoma’s 39 Native American tribes. Although the 1920 census listed the Harjos as Mulatto and the 1930 census as Negro, numerous records for Eddie Oneida Derrick clearly indicate she was of mixed Black and Cherokee blood. 

I did not find such definitive records for Micco T. (Thopolocco) Harjo, but there are several that suggest a Native American connection. His signature with his full name implies a Muscogee (Creek) or Seminole connection. His 1943 draft registration gives his race as Spanish and Indian, his birthplace as Hickory Ground, Oklahoma, referencing a political and spiritual center of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

In Indian Territory, Black Native Americans were not unusual. All the tribes had owned Black slaves before the Civil War. In 1866, when enslaved persons were emancipated, freed Blacks continued to be involved with and connected to tribal life. 

So the huge changes in Indian Territory in the late 19th and early 20th Century must have affected the Harjos profoundly, even though Blacks had experienced discrimination by Native Americans.

Responding to non-Native pressures to use land in Indian Territory, the US government allowed railroad companies to lay track. The Iron Mountain Railway built in Indian Territory reached the city of Nowata in 1889. 

In the 1890s, the US government began breaking up tribal lands to make more property available to outsiders. Land previously held in common was sectioned into allotments and assigned to tribal members, including freed Blacks. 

Unfamiliar with private property transactions and now newly burdened taxes on the land they used, many were swindled and many, including Eddie Derrick, had to sell properties to pay those taxes.

Some, like Eddie’s mother, Josie Derrick, applied for and received allotments. Others opposed efforts to erase tribal culture and sovereignty by refusing allotments. 

Among the resisters were the Snake Band Muscogee, who participated in uprisings at Hickory Ground in 1901 and 1909. The fiercest leader of the Snakes was Chitto Harjo aka Crazy Snake (1846 – 1912). Among their numbers were Blacks as well as pure-blood Natives.

Crazy Snake Rebels in custody, 1909
Source: Wikipedia

Now you might wonder if Micco Harjo was related to Chitto, as I did. However, I found no conclusive evidence of this. 

But I did find a Mico or Micco Harjo mentioned in newspaper articles of 1912 and early 1913 who claimed to be his grandson. Whether he is “our” Micco Harjo is unclear, although they do have several things in common. They lived in the city of Nowata at the same time, they both worked as chefs, and they both said their fathers were from Mexico. Whether they were one and the same, I could not say; but in any event I found no evidence of any Micco Harjo-Chitto Harjo relationship.

In 1906, the US declared an end to Indian government. This cleared the way for Indian Territory to be merged with Oklahoma Territory in order to become the 46th American state in 1907. The first business of the new Oklahoma legislature, Bill No. 1, in fact, was to pass a segregation law. Voter suppression laws soon followed as did an uptick in violence towards Blacks.

Jim Crow had arrived in Oklahoma. Not that Blacks had not been subject to mistreatment earlier. But with statehood it got worse.

A panorama of the Hoy oil field on Black Bear Creek near Enid [Garfield County], Oklahoma, 1917
Source: Library of Congress Photographs

In these early years of the last century, Oklahoma was not only unsettled by testy Native American and Jim Crow policies. It was also the beginning of a huge oil rush, which inevitably made property issues more contested. 

Old and new populations hoped to get rich quick. Think wildcatter J. Paul Getty who, in 1915, at age 23 was already a millionaire. Nowata became a boom town after petroleum and gas discoveries in 1904. 

There’s a possible Micco Harjo connection to this phase of Oklahoma history. In several articles from July 1913 to July 1918, a Micco T. Harjo is mentioned as the guardian of Nancy Atkins of Nowata. Miss Atkins was one of several claiming to own a phenomenal Cushing oil play. As claimants and issues multiplied, the famous Tommy Atkins litigation stretched out from 1913 to 1922, when the Oklahoma Supreme Court decided in favor of Nancy’s sister Minnie.

While this may or may not be “our” Micco T. Harjo, he certainly knew the George Claggett family. The parents and the children of this Black Cherokee family all became rich from their oil properties. Harjo apparently proposed or planned to propose to George’s 18-year-old daughter, Millie J. Claggett. In March of 1911, he applied for a license to marry her, but apparently changed his mind (or she did), for he married Eddie Derrick instead nine months later.

So what do we have, in the way of possible motivations besides purely personal ones, for moving to Portland?

Let’s see:

Loss of tribal sovereignty. 

Unfair distribution of tribal lands and the new burden of taxes. 

Fraudsters who preyed on Native landowners.

Oil boom madness, rewarding some and leaving others with just dirt.

Jim Crow laws. 

Increased violence against Blacks. 

All these could be reasons for the Micco Harjo family to move to Portland in 1913.

Of course, Portland was not the promised land. Racist exclusionary laws were still ensconced, if not enforced, in Oregon’s constitution. They were only overturned by voters in 1925 and 1926. And there was de facto discrimination in the use of facilities such as hotels and restaurants and in housing. Hence, the need for new, equalizing laws, such as House Bill 344, described in the preceding article.

However, in Oregon Micco Harjo could register to vote. And he did in 1914, identifying as a Republican (historically the party of Lincoln and then the affiliation of most Black voters). 

In Portland he could get a mortgage and buy a house as long as it was not in an exclusively white neighborhood.

In Portland, Micco and Eddie Harjo joined fraternal organizations, so important to the social, economic and political wellbeing of the Black community. He was elected a trustee of the Rose City Lodge of the Black Elks (Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World) in 1924, and she was active in the Dahlia Temple of the sister organization (Daughters of IBPOE of the World). On a business trip to Mexico in 1925, Micco organized the first Mexican Black Elks lodge in Tijuana

Was he seeking a new promised land in Mexico, where Seminoles and Muscegee had been welcomed in the 19th Century and where some members of the Snake Band were planning to relocate in the early 20th Century to escape US government domination? 

If so, in 1926 he chose Oakland, California instead. There he lived and worked for the remainder of his life as a railroad chef. No further civil rights activities came to light in my research.

If all history is biography, it is, of course, shaped not just by the rich and famous, but also by the Micco Harjos of the world. Of the thousands who have lived in Montavilla at one time are another, I’m sure there are thousands of stories as interesting as his. 

But Micco Harjo did live through extraordinary times and no doubt brought to Portland some extraordinary perspectives.

***

Historical story ideas? Questions about Montavilla’s past? Also share a love for neighborhood history? 

Comment on the article at the link in the heading. Or you can reach out to Pat Sanders at pat.montavilla.history@gmail.com.

Read all of the “Montavilla Memories” articles by Pat Sanders here.

Dear gentrifier… hello, now listen

By CHANELLE PARRIS

When you hear the word “gentrification”, what do you think?

How do you feel?

Based on the responses I’ve gotten over the years, it is a mixed bag. The one thing I have learned is, for a place ranked amongst the most gentrified cities in the nation, Portland understands very little about gentrification.

Depending on the person, the bias, or literature, you will hear it disguised as many things: “neighborhood change”, “urban renewal”, or “revitalization”. I like to call it what it is: “gentrification”. I used to work on a neurology study at Oregon Health and Science University.

The study, Sharing History through Active Reminiscence and Photo-Imagery took a multi-faceted approach. Its goal is to develop programs aimed at slowing the cognitive decline that leads to the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in the Black population. This is achieved, in part, by considering the effects of gentrification on the brain health of Black residents of the historically Black neighborhoods of Northeast Portland.

At the time, my area of study was focused on Developmental Neuroscience, but I quickly took an interest in the question of how two seemingly unrelated concepts aging and gentrification— had a very real effect on one another.

Through that work, I quickly developed an interest in the history of Blackness in Portland and how Black community was formed, sustained, and eventually destroyed. I read about the processes of gentrification, the practices of defunding and underfunding, the racist laws and policies, the redlining, pricing out, and the demographic shifts that brought us to where we are today.

Deconstructing gentrification

The information was there if you looked for it— articles detailing the racist history of Oregon and the gentrification of Portland specifically, as well as several research papers online that discuss the rising trend of gentrification and its effect on minority communities across the nation. But when I spoke to the people around me, I realized there was something missing from the conversation about gentrification in Portland— the conversation itself was not happening.

Though I was born and partially raised in Portland, I lived in Texas for the second half of my upbringing before ultimately returning to Portland for college. Though we had lived in areas surrounding Portland metro, most of my extended family was established in the Northeast and we visited often, both while we lived here and after we moved away.

I watched the neighborhood change quickly. I remember feeling confused when we visited because the neighborhood looked drastically different each time we returned. But I was too young to understand what was happening, let alone, have a word to describe it.

***

Visit Rose City Residential‘s new website for the full 1,500 story by Chanelle, and more articles from the media collective founded to “raise awareness about social inequity in the housing market by sharing news and feature stories about individuals and communities in Portland.”

This excerpt is published here as part of a partnership between Rose City Residential and Village Portland; based on our mission to promote independent media and spotlight more voices and opinions.

Learn more about media collective RCR and how it started in their inaugural story published on Village Portland by RCR Editor-in-Chief Julianna Robidoux, “What makes a home?”.

This weekend

By ANDREW WILKINS

The lack of investment in East Portland emerges in so many ways, but deaths of vulnerable road users is one of the most shocking.

Traffic fatalities are up citywide, but thanks to input from local indie media source Bike Portand and advocacy group Oregon Walks, we now know that the rate of pedestrian deaths east of 82nd Avenue is twice that of the rest of Portland based on mapping the 48 pedestrian deaths between 2017 and 2019.

Also, in less than a two mile stretch on outer Stark Street (between SE 122nd & 162nd Avenues) four people have been killed in last four months.

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Published this week by new contributor Griffin Malone, is this story about another grievance against local law enforcement when it comes to race and policing: “Portland Police are consistently booking people of color protestors as white“.

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If you haven’t learned by now how important it is to participate and to have a fair and transparent vote-counting process, Travis Stovall is the new mayor of Gresham— winning by just 13 votes.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 5TH

Christmas concert

It’s a Christmas concert from a local Portland group in their seventh season of bringing holiday cheer.

“Eclectic Christmas performs original arrangements of familiar Christmas carols and songs in a variety of styles including: Bach, bluegrass, jazz, folk, rock and more.”

Online * 7 pm * free, but donations are accepted

Shop local

If you haven’t yet this year, check out Mercy Corps‘ 7th annual holiday Northwest Made Holiday Market! Mercy Corps provides “vital financing, mentorship and education” to small businesses locally (including Village Portland, full disclosure).

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Story times, talk time, and other interesting opportunities… Multnomah County‘s great collection of educational events have moved online… check out the list here.

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SUNDAY, DECEMBER 6TH

Farmers market

The Montavilla Farmers Market is twice a month now, and the next market is on December 13th. Also attending will be Fill Your Pantry and Come Thru Market farmers! They’ll have a holiday market on December 20th.

Also, check out this feature from Julianna Robidoux on Come Thru from a few months back.

***

Sunday heat

It’s may not be a family-friendly event, but it certainly is one of the best events to see a variety of amazing Portland performers.

Sinferno is online now, and features Jax, one of Village Portland’s contributors. If you missed her tongue-in-cheek call to turn on downtown’s fountains to rally civic pride, give it a watch here.

***

Have a good weekend all! Take care of yourself and each other.

Portland Police are consistently booking people of color protestors as white

By GRIFFIN MALONE

In late August, Chris Wise posted his mugshot on Twitter. While leaving a Portland demonstration against police brutality, Wise was grabbed from the sidewalk by officers.

A tall, lanky, Black medic who’s known for cracking jokes at protests, Wise was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and interfering with a police officer.

The caption on Wise’s Twitter photo read: “I told them I was black.” Yet, the booking information for his mugshot reads: “Race: White”.

A documented trend

Many people on Twitter responded with shock. But, for a lot of protesters of color, this came as no surprise. In fact, people of color being marked as either “white” or “unknown” upon arrest has become a documented trend over the last five months of protests. *

Photo by Griffin Malone

While it’s difficult to get the full data on this phenomenon, this reporter spoke with 17 different people who say their race was incorrectly marked when booked.

Law enforcement officials deny there’s a problem with mis-identification by race, but these errors point towards the larger issue of racial bias in policing— part of the multiple grievances that sparked this summer’s Black Lives Matter protests.

Mis-identified

Kirra (name and exact information has been altered for anonymity), who was arrested at the beginning of the protests, says they were mis-gendered repeatedly and were marked as white after speaking in their Indigenous language.

Another Indigenous arrestee who I spoke with told officers repeatedly that they were Indigenous, but the officers marked them down as “Asian”. When they were released their papers said “unknown”.

Aaron (another pseudonym), who is Latino, was arrested in late August for disorderly conduct. He asked the officers specifically to mark him down as Latino— and was told that wasn’t an option. Hispanic is, however, a common option in booking records. The officers marked him down as “white”.

“I’ve struggled with my identity being a Latino male in the United States,” Aaron said. “It was like I was being robbed of the little thing that makes me feel somewhat connected to my family, my relatives in Mexico, my ancestors.”

Race and policing

Having accurate data around race and arrests is crucial because it can shed light on systemic disparities, social justice advocates and academics agree.

Mark Leymon, a criminology and criminal justice professor at Portland State University, says that this consistent error of marking arrested protestors of color as white paints a false image of progress, and skews critical data.

“I don’t like to speak on intent,” Leymon said, “but the data errors we see from Portland police go beyond the normal data entry error rate.” The error rate on bookings for white arrestees came out to a little under 1 percent, our analysis of arrest records found.

The majority of our reporting was done during this summer’s protests and ensuing arrests, but based on social media reports, mis-identification based on race is still an issue.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, an organization that awards grants to justice systems based on the results of its studies, found that between 2014 and 2019 Black and Latinx residents of Multnomah County were over-represented in their courts system. These findings led them to give a $2 million dollar grant to Multnomah County to make improvments.

Police Bureau data, however, brings into question whether this money has been of any help. In the first / second quarter of 2020, their data shows 18.4 percent of total traffic stops in Portland were marked as Black or African American— nearly three times the rate of white drivers.

In late August, Courthouse News found Black protesters in Portland were nearly twice as likely to be arrested as white protestors.

This summer, we talked to protesters, mostly people of color, about their personal experiences with policing.

Law enforcement responds

When asked about this issue, a spokesperson for the Portland Police Bureau said: “As far as our officers marking race on police reports, it is based on what the person in the report offers or the perceived race. Officers have no reason to mark something different… As for mugshots and booking pages [errors], we do not control what [the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office] MSCO puts out.”

But a spokesperson for MSCO put the responsibility back on PPB, saying that “the records technicians are copying information directly from arrest documents, which are filled out by the arresting officers.”

***

Leymon went on to say in his five years participating in the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council, a Multnomah County monthly conference on police reform and public safety, he has seen little to no participation from Portland’s police chief. When emailed regarding their participation, Portland mayor Ted Wheeler and Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell failed to respond.

Years ago, Multnomah County created a bi-monthly subcommittee called RED (racial and ethnic disparities). When asked recently about their attendance, the Portland Police Bureau responded via email: “Can you tell me more about RED?.”

Leymon says he can’t recall ever seeing Lovell or the previous police chief in attendance.

Leymon said that without proper data, identifying and solving issues of racial disparity in Multnomah County’s criminal justice system becomes extremely difficult. 

“At some point it’s just an issue of whether they care enough,” he said. “Multnomah County seems to be trying— but PPB, I’m not so sure.”

***

* In the 300 samples analyzed there were also 12 dark skinned Middle Eastern people that were booked white. Census and government considers Middle Eastern people white so it is not included in the error rate. This is an issue entirely in itself but not technically an error of booking.

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Griffin Malone is a Portland photographer, journalist, and artist. They studied interior design and film and they work with medium format film, super 8, woodworking, and copy writing.

Connect:

Instagram: griffinmalones

Twitter: @griffinmalone6

Micco T. Harjo and Oregon’s first equal access bill

By PATRICIA SANDERS

369th National Guard Regiment (a.k.a. Harlem Hellfighters), 1919, photo by Paul Thompson
Source: The New York Public Library Digital Collections

PART 1

Between 370,000 and 400,000 Black Americans served in World War I; about 770 gave their lives.

Some were in segregated brigades that fought alongside French brigades, experiencing an acceptance and appreciation they’d never felt back home. The war experience in general sparked in Blacks a new resolve to secure, at last, their equal rights in the United States.

Out of this upwelling of new confidence and determination, Oregon’s first equal access bill was introduced in the House of Representatives in February 1919. The timing seemed good since the 1918 election had created an overwhelmingly Republican legislature and soldiers were still returning home from overseas.

How does this relate to Montavilla other than in a general way? Well, one of only three Portlanders allowed to speak on behalf of the bill in the House was Micco T. Harjo (1882 / 1885 – 1947), a Black Native American resident of Montavilla.

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Portland’s Afro-American League conceived of the law to guarantee equal access to hotels, theaters and other public places regardless of race. Multnomah Representative John B. Coffey (1867 – 1926), a progressive Irish Catholic recently re-elected to the House, agreed to sponsor it. He introduced H. B. 344 on February 3, 1919.

Representative John B. Coffey, Multnomah County
Source: Oregon Voter: Magazine of Citizenship, January 4, 1919 (Google Book)

The bill went to the House Health and Public Morals Committee for review. On February 12, an imposing six-foot tall Harjo argued in favor of passage.

Perhaps he was chosen to speak because of his patriotic contributions. The 1930 United States Census identified him as a veteran of the Spanish-American War of 1898.

In 1918, he registered for the draft and contributed to the war effort as a metal worker for the Grant Smith Porter company, which produced much-needed cargo ships.

Two other prominent Portlanders spoke in support of H. B. 344: Beatrice Cannady (1889 – 1974), co-publisher of The Advocate— then Portland’s major Black newspaper, a co-founder of the Portland branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and a frequent public speaker; and Rev. W. Isaac Rowan (b. 1875), a former pastor of Portland’s African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.

The press, which closely followed the controversial bill, did not report what Harjo, Cannady, and Rowan said. But whatever they argued, words were not enough to convince a majority of white committee members.

The committee passed it back to the full House without a favorable or unfavorable recommendation.

“Race Question Is Up to House”
Source: Oregon Statesman, February 20, 1919 (Historic Oregon Newspapers)

In the House, someone moved to postpone the bill indefinitely, a way to kill it. Debate erupted. Proponents argued it deserved passage because of the considerable Black contribution to the war effort. Opponents said the bill was unnecessary, existing laws were sufficient.

Multnomah County Representative D. C. Lewis tried to avoid voting by hiding in a committee room. He had to be dragged to the chamber by the Sergeant-at-Arms. “Vaudeville” is how The Oregon Statesman described Lewis’ escapade.

With a roll call vote, H. B. 344 failed 31 to 24. The Multnomah County delegation, which represented the majority of Oregon’s Black population, voted 9 to 4 in favor, with Rep. Lewis among the nays.

Harjo, E. D. Cannady (husband of Beatrice Cannady), and other executive committee members of the People’s Civic League (formerly the Afro-American League) felt betrayed. They had thought Rep. Lewis was a “true and tried friend of the race” (Oregon Journal, February 24, 1919). And with good reason. Lewis had introduced two bills in 1917 that would repeal laws prohibiting inter-racial marriages. (The laws would not be repealed until 1951.)

The failure of such a seemingly simple and fair request shows the difficulty in achieving civil rights in Oregon, and that era’s climate of increasing racial tension.

And that tension sparked conflicts; one of the most egregious of these was the summer of racial violence that came to be called “the Red Summer”.

Between April and November 1919, at least 25 major riots occurred across the country (although not in Portland). Blacks were attacked, and this time they fought back. Damages and injuries were huge in many cities. 83 people were lynched (seven whites and 76 Blacks, even Black veterans in uniform).

The NAACP gained about 100,000 new members in 1919.

In 1921, one of the worst incidents in racial violence took place in Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Black neighborhood, with, again, tremendous loss of lives and property.

About the same time the re-emergent Ku Klux Klan was expanding throughout the country— with 100,000 members by 1921. A Portland branch was established in 1921 and tried recruit new members by with a film purporting to “tell the truth” about the Klan. According to the Sunday Oregonian of December 28 thousands flocked to the Municipal Auditorium for the film.

In this conflicted environment, the re-energized campaign for civil rights moved forward in Portland as elsewhere.

In 1920, the newly created Associated Negro Press promoted a national drive for justice. Its press release urging local events was carried in newspapers across the country.

The drive would launch on September 22, Emancipation Day, a holiday commemorating this date in 1862 when President Abraham Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation to free enslaved people.

Portland’s People’s Civic and Political Club, of which Harjo was president, organized an Emancipation Day event to be held at the AME Zion Church. The meeting included several well-know speakers, beginning with Harjo.

Among these were Rev. J. W. Anderson on “A Minister’s Political Duty” and Cannady on why Blacks should support Republican presidential candidate Warren G. Harding, an advocate of civil rights. (In his 1920 acceptance speech as the Republican candidate, Harding lauded the sacrifices of Black soldiers and said Blacks deserved “their full measure of citizenship”.

“Colored People’s Meeting”
Source: Oregon Daily Journal, September 22, 1920 (Historic Oregon Newspapers)

After this 1920 event, I found no further evidence of Harjo’s direct involvement in civil rights work. Perhaps he stepped back to a secondary role or perhaps personal circumstances intervened.

But in 1919 and 1920, he stepped up to make a difference in a fraught and often hostile society.

In my next article, I will explore the life of Harjo and how his early life in Indian Territory may help us understand some of the motivations behind his civil rights activism.

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Historical story ideas? Questions about Montavilla’s past? Also share a love for neighborhood history? 

Comment on the article at the link in the heading. Or you can reach out to Pat Sanders at pat.montavilla.history@gmail.com.

Read all of the “Montavilla Memories” articles by Pat Sanders here.

This weekend

With COVID-19 raging in Portland, we can’t meet in person as much— but community building is still happening.

Gov. Kate Brown has added further restrictions to reduce the spread of the virus. Willamette Week reports here.

“As of Nov. 18, bars and restaurants will be take-out only. Store capacity will be limited and gyms and other indoor spaces closed.”

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Reflecting on some of this week’s happenings, this just in from one of our network affiliates Pandemic Duck News!:

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And though it pales in comparison to alleged issues in other states, a resignation of an election official in Oregon spotlights some serious problems with our voting and unemployment systems: dinosaur-era software.

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Though the dust is still settling around the November 4th election, the library ballot initiative promises to have big impacts on East Portland. Learn more from their notice below.

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We love our contributors, and expect some big things happening soon. Including a new story from Patricia Sanders, who will be telling the story of Black soldiers returning from World War I, and their continued fight for freedom at home in the United States.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 13TH

As part of Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon‘s East Portland Arts & Literary Festival, organizers are inviting community members to meet their newly-chosen artists in residence: Sabina Haque, Cary Miga, Roshani Thakore, Nikki Acevedo, Myra Aldan, and Felecia Graham.

Continue reading “This weekend”