OBP Statement on Police Brutality

Wednesday, July 8, 2020
Contact: zachary@oregonblackpioneers.org

The Board and staff of Oregon Black Pioneers have watched in horror as the recent murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many other Black Americans have been broadcast across the world. The lethal actions which current and former police officers used to end their lives are totally unacceptable. Their deaths were completely avoidable. Like millions of others, we are angered but not surprised.

Our organization seeks to educate the public about the experiences of African Americans who strove to build a life for themselves and their families in the face of Oregon’s exclusion laws, white supremacy, housing discrimination, and other injustices. As historical researchers, we are acutely aware of how generations of systemic racism have shaped law enforcement. Police brutality we see today is the product of centuries of abuse. The earliest organized police forces in the United States were created from patrols tasked with capturing runaway slaves. Since then, police officers have been used as state agents of intimidation and violence against Black communities. Unfortunately, each new report of an unarmed Black person killed by police is a reminder of how history repeats itself.

We believe that all law enforcement officials should be held accountable for their unwarranted use of deadly force. But the removal of individual officers is not enough to eradicate a deeply imbedded culture of prejudice. We support the creation of stronger civilian oversight mechanisms to investigate racism within police departments and legislation which limits police agencies’ ability to shield officers from criminal prosecution. We also support the calls to demilitarize police departments, to hire more unarmed community resource officers and officers of color, and to reinvest millions of dollars from police budgets into community programs which address mental health, housing, and education.

Black Lives Matter. Oregon Black Pioneers stands in solidarity with those protesting police brutality and injustice in our state and everywhere else.


Oregon Black Pioneers was founded in 1993. Its mission is to research, recognize, and commemorate the culture and heritage of African Americans in the State of Oregon. Its vision is to be the premier resource for information about Oregon’s African American culture and heritage. For more information please contact zachary@oregonblackpioneers.org.