Portland Protesters Demand University Cops Give Up Their Guns
Portland, OR – Protesters have set up camp outside of Portland State University’s campus public safety building as part of their call for the university to disarm its police force.
"This is the escalation we need," said Olivia Pace, an organizer with the Portland State University Student Union, according to The Oregonian.
"The administration is about to be at a tipping point where they have to crack under the pressure," she said.
The students are calling for the school to disarm its campus police after a fatal police-involved shooting in front of a bar, The Oregonian reported.
The shooting occurred when police responded to a fight in front of a bar called the Cheerful Tortoise at about 1:30 a.m. on June 29.
That’s where 45-year old Jason Washington and his friend 43-year-old Jeremy Wilkinson had met early that afternoon.
Then they bar hopped their way around town while watching College World Series games, and returned for late night drinks at the Cheerful Tortoise, according to The Oregonian.
Witnesses told police that Washington had been trying to keep Wilkinson out of a fight with some other men in front of the bar, when Wilkinson threw one of the other men’s cell phones.
Portland State Police Officers James Dewey and Shawn McKenzie arrived as the fight was already in progress, but the men didn’t stop brawling when they saw the police.
The Oregonian reported that one of the men involved in the brawl told officers that Washington had pulled a gun on them.
Washington was seen with a holstered gun at his hip, according to The Oregonian.
During the fight, Washington lost his balance while trying to pull someone off of Wilkinson, and fell backwards onto the ground. When he got back up, he had the gun in his hand, according to The Oregonian.
The officers ordered Washington to drop the gun, but instead he turned and began to walk away. He continued to ignore commands to drop his weapon and seconds later, both officers opened fire.
The Oregonian reported that police found a black Walther PPQ 9mm pistol on the ground about 6 inches from Washington's right hand.
Washington was declared dead at the scene by paramedics. Toxicology reports revealed he had a blood-alcohol content of .24 percent when he died, according to The Oregonian.
Wilkinson told police that Washington was carrying Wilkinson’s pistol because he’d given it to him for safekeeping before he got into the fight because he didn’t want to do anything stupid.
Washington, a Navy veteran and who worked for the U.S. Postal Service, had a valid concealed-carry permit, The Oregonian reported.
A Multnomah grand jury investigated the shooting and ruled that it had been justified, and both officers were taken off administrative leave and returned to duty, according to The Oregonian.
Portland State University police officers first began carrying guns in 2014.
The protesters carrying signs outside the campus police station have distributed a call-in script for students to use with college administrators that lists “demands” that must be met in order for their group to disperse.
The student union is calling on the university to fire Officers McKenzie and Dewey, to disarm all of the campus police, and to establish a permanent memorial for Washington on the campus, according to The Oregonian.
Pace said protesters would not attempt to shut down the public safety building.
Washington’s death was the first fatal shooting by the university’s police force, according to The Oregonian.