Digest: Thursday, March 24, 2022

Normandale Park shooter booked into jail system

Ben Smith was relocated from OHSU and booked into the Multnomah County jail system yesterday. Smith was identified as the shooter responsible for killing June Knightly and injuring four other protesters at Normandale on February 19.

A grand jury indicted Smith on nine charges last week: one count of murder in the second degree for killing Knightly, four counts of attempted first-degree murder, three counts of assault in the first degree with a firearm, and one count of assault in the second degree with a firearm. Following the indictment, prosecutors have removed all information about the case from the court’s electronic filing system. Smith is scheduled to be arraigned at 2:30 p.m. today in Multnomah County Circuit Court. Those wishing to listen to the court proceedings may do so online through the JC3 livestream or by phone. Survivors have requested that anyone attending in person show care for survivors and witnesses.

Smith’s consumption of Andy Ngo’s propaganda has been documented thoroughly, as have connections between Ngo and Lyndon McLeod, who killed five people and wounded two more in Denver in December. Ngo’s accounts on social media platforms, including Twitter and YouTube, remain active at the time of writing, despite calls from numerous people affected. There are, of course, continuing concerns about the Portland Police Bureau’s handling of the case.

Survivors of the attack continue to need support.

City of Portland moves forward on body-worn cameras

The City of Portland will review bids from vendors interested in providing body-worn cameras for the Portland Police Bureau starting after the proposal deadline tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. City commissioners have budgeted $2.6 million for the contract. The city started the proposal process without setting policy on how footage from such cameras will be used, as well as whether PPB staff will have access to footage. The city also signed a new union contract with the Portland Police Association despite disagreements on body-worn cameras, requiring a separate negotiation.

Residents of Portland have expressed substantial concern about the process with little acknowledgment from either elected officials or members of PPB. The city’s webpage on the process even includes a frequently-asked question, “Does the community want body worn cameras?” with an answer that entirely ignores local response, instead quoting a national survey conducted seven years ago and a list of local agencies already using body-worn cameras.

Albina Arts Center to be returned to Portland’s Black community

The Albina Arts Center, which is located at North Williams Avenue and Northeast Killingsworth Street, has been a key community space for Portland’s Black community since the 1960s. It has also housed numerous small businesses, including the In Other Words bookstore from 2006 to 2019. Current tenants include I Am M.O.R.E and Faith Bridge. In 2015, the Oregon Department of Justice took control of the building from the Albina Women’s League Foundation based on allegations of misappropriation of funds. The process to return the building to community management is starting.

The process for returning the Albina Arts Center to community control will focus on finding a Black-led 501(c)3 non-profit able to take ownership of the building. The Oregon Community Foundation is temporarily administering the building and will provide support for a community-led process. Ericka Warren will facilitate the community engagement process. Warren is a facilitator with Try Excellence and has worked on community engagement processes around the Interstate 5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project, among others. OCF expects to transfer the building’s title this fall.

Local non-profit Don’t Shoot PDX, which previously rented a space in the building, has been pushing for community ownership of the Albina Arts Center. During a December press conference, Don’t Shoot’s founder, Teressa Raiford noted issues with the state’s stewardship and OCF’s oversight, including failing to maintain the property appropriately. Don’t Shoot PDX has requested opportunities to acquire the building dating back to 2019.

By Thursday Bram

Thursday Bram founded PDX.Vote after making numerous zines, newsletters, and other media about politics in Portland, Oregon. Thursday has also written for publications ranging from Autostraddle.com to Entrepreneur Magazine. You can find more of Thursday's work at ThursdayBram.com.