It may be time to finally cross Oregon off the list of places where Black people should live after the latest chapter in the state’s ongoing racist saga of being unwelcome to African-Americans.
The NAACP protested on the steps of Portland’s city hall on Saturday to bring attention to a local ordinance requiring owners of brick buildings to post a sign warning that the structure was vulnerable to earthquakes, the Oregonian reported.
The ordinance was targeting buildings in historically Black neighborhoods, showing gentrification was the real reason behind the law, activists said. It would also make it disproportionately difficult for building owners in those neighborhoods to get loans and would discourage investment in the structures, resulting in the buildings likely being slated for demolition and redevelopment, the demonstrators said.
The policy “exacerbates a long history of systemic and structural betrayals of trust and policies of displacement, demolition, and dispossession predicated on classism, racism, and white supremacy,” the local NAACP said in a statement.
Indeed, Oregon, what with a 2 percent Black population, has never seemed to be very welcoming to minorities. Portland, with its 6.3 percent African-American population, has been recognized as the “whitest big city” in America, according to the Atlantic.
Portland’s racist history has deep roots. In 1844, Oregon County ordered Black people to leave, according to the Washington Post. A provisional government law called for African-Americans to receive between 20 to 39 lashes every six months until they left the county. Black women were given three years and Black men two years from 1844 to comply with the law.
In a recent incident, two DoubleTree hotel workers in Portland forced an innocent Black guest named Jermaine Massey to leave the hotel in December for no good reason. The security guard was caught on cellphone video racially profiling Massey.
When it comes to racial profiling, the city’s police force is notorious.
“Portland police officers have for decades stopped, searched, arrested, shot at and killed black men at disproportionate rates and continue to do so,” the Oregonian stated, pointing to research data.
The police department’s racial bias surfaces in deadly ways, over and over again. In October, a grand jury cleared two Portland officers who shot and killed 27-year-old Patrick Kimmons. His family and protesters had argued that the police shot Kimmons in the back up to 15 times as he fled. But the police officers claimed that he turned to fire his weapon at them.
And in September, a different grand jury cleared two Portland officers who shot and killed Jason Washington, a 45-year-old Navy veteran. The cops hastily fired on him in July when he was breaking up a fight outside a bar.