Students protest Reed College’s response to viral video of professor
Reed College students held a protest to push the school to fire a professor who was filmed demanding to know if employees at a Portland business were “illegal immigrants.” The professor, Paul Currie, teaches psychology at Reed College. Protesters first gathered at Reed’s Psychology building, then marched to Eliot Hall, which houses administrative offices. Students filled the building, including Reed President Audrey Bilger’s office. Bilger refused to condemn Currie’s behavior or fire him.
The protest moved outside after Bilger left the building. The protest lasted roughly four hours. Students plan to return to Eliot Hall today at 11:00 a.m. Students also organized an effort to contact members of Reed’s board of trustees.
- March 17 — Michelle Gonzalez posted the video showing Currie’s behavior to TikTok.
- March 25 — Danesh, a social media researcher identified Currie in the video. Student groups, including the Reed chapter of YDSA, immediately called for Currie’s firing. Bilger, along with, Kathy Oleson, Reed’s dean of faculty and a professor in the psychology department, issued a statement that acknowledged the video and referred to Currie as a “valued member of our community.”
- March 26 — Currie emailed Reed community members a short apology for “offensive and discriminatory behavior,” which was then shared online.
- March 28 — Oleson issued another statement, noting that Reed’s Committee on Advancement and Tenure would be investigating the video and will decide if Currie should be suspended or have his academic tenure terminated, hopefully before the start of Reed’s fall 2022 semester.
- March 30 — Students protest at Reed’s Psychology building and Eliot Hall.
A quick scroll through recent tweets about Reed students shows that right-wing propagandists are out in force, spreading misinformation about violence and graffiti at the protest, as well as leaping to defend Currie. While I will not directly link to such material, Andy Ngô posted multiple tweets about individual Reed students who were arrested in 2020, as part of the George Floyd uprising, and equating a few incidents of graffiti with extreme violence. Much of the graffiti had already been removed by the time of writing this post.
OHA announces COVID reporting changes; recommends second booster for those with high risks
Oregon Health Authority has announced an end to their daily media releases about COVID-19 case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths. Starting next Monday, OHA will publish fewer updates and analyses of COVID’s status in Oregon. Data dashboards on OHA’s website will continue to be updated every weekday. No information is currently available about whether OHA will resume more frequent updates when cases rise again.
Even as OHA steps down reporting, the organization shared details about the latest round of COVID vaccine booster shots. The second booster is recommend for people who are 65 and older, as well as younger folks with underlying medical conditions. OHA estimates 500,000 Oregon residents are likely to receive a second booster over the next six months and also notes that the State of Oregon has enough vaccine doses to meet that need.
Without other public health safety measures, such as masking, social distancing, and air filtration, offering booster shots to a percentage of the population will not prevent another surge in case numbers. Reducing tracking and communication efforts just guarantees that the surge will be more of a surprise. For those of us not yet ready to pretend that the pandemic is over, this lull is a time to stock up on masks and at-home tests, as well as to ensure other community members have access to the same.
Property owners sue to stop Central Eastside shelter
Developers involved in the Electric Blocks project filed a lawsuit against Multnomah County to stop the planned opening of a year-round shelter at 120 Southeast Market Street. The lawsuit also names Summit Properties, which owns the building housing the shelter. The shelter is expected to provide 125 beds for women experiencing homelessness in Portland. It originally opened as a temporary severe weather shelter in December 2021 and again last month. Developers claim the shelter will be a “public and private nuisance” and say that the process of creating the new shelter hasn’t been transparent. They also note that current zoning codes prohibit a shelter in that location.
The Central Eastside Industrial Council, which represents businesses in the neighborhood, reportedly sent a letter to city and county officials suggesting that the location of the new shelter be reconsidered, although CEIC did note a need for additional shelterspace in the Central Eastside area.
The Electric Blocks are a group of five buildings between Southeast Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard and Southeast Water Avenue, just south of Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard. Killian Pacific developed the projects as part of its holdings of 3.9 million square feet of properties, which also includes the Goat Blocks. One building, named Nova, is marketed through its association with graffiti, as it incorporated the street art-covered walls of a warehouse destroyed by fire. Their willingness to benefit from street art while opposing a homeless shelter is sadly predictable in Portland. The lawsuit comes at a time when business interests throughout the city are actively working to criminalize homelessness in ways that are guaranteed to increase the number of people unable to access housing and other support in the area.