Protesters crashed a Portland State University board meeting after it met for the first time since the fatal shooting by campus police last summer of 45-year-old Jason Washington.The demonstrators chanted ‘Disarm the police” while carrying signs that said the same. The Board of Trustees caught an earful from a lot of people calling for the university to disarm its police.
Washington was killed by campus cops while trying to break up a fight in late June. The official police report states that Washington was carrying a friend’s gun after it fell when campus cops killed him. Washington, who is a licensed gun owner with a concealed carry permit, grabbed his friend’s gun after it fell during an altercation. According to reports, after picking up the gun campus cops yelled for him to drop it. Without waiting for compliance the campus cops opened fire killing Washington. Despite this information, a grand jury cleared the campus cops of any wrongdoing.
This did not sit well with campus students and professors. At the Thursday board meeting the audience blamed the campus cops and the board, for letting them have guns in the first place four years ago. Now they are repeating the same mantra from four years ago: disarm the police.
“We are watching now and we will be watching for a very long time, and I want to say with great love for this institution it is within your power to do the right thing and to do it now, disarm PSU,” said one professor who disapproved of arming campus officers in 2014.
Despite the public pressure, the board members stuck by their decision and instead offered their condolences for Washington’s family. They “promised” to keep an open mind during the board meeting but made it clear no decision would be made at that time.
“We do not want to rush toward a final decision, that is why we want to listen to you today. That is why PSU has contracted with two independent experts to conduct two separate reviews,” said Gale Castillo.
This did not appease the protesters calling for officers to be disarmed and the officers involved in Washington’s death to be fired. They also demanded that the university build a permanent memorial to Jason Washington on campus.
“Somebody died on PSU police’s watch when this community has been telling you for years…that this would be the exact situation we would find ourselves in,” said Olivia Pace, a PSU Student Union organizer.
We’ll see if the current outrage and backlash will be enough to disarm the campus cops preventing another trigger happy fiasco.