Activists speak out on safety issues at county commissioners mee - KPTV - FOX 12

Activists speak out on safety issues at county commissioners meeting

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Activists with Black Lives Matter, Don’t Shoot PDX and other groups took their concerns to Multnomah County commissioners Thursday, testifying about the dire conditions for blacks and Latinos in the metro area when it comes to their safety and welfare.

Many topics were discussed, with activists saying they're most worried about police brutality, corrupt politicians and racism every day out on the street.

They also pointed to a disproportionate number of blacks and Latinos in county jails.

Several people testified, including Irene Kalonji, who lost her son to a police shooting, and a Latino Portland State University student who said she feels targeted by Donald Trump supporters at the university.

Kalonji said her 19-year-old son Christopher was no threat, but that officers still shot him following an hours-long standoff when they responded to a mental health crisis call.

“We live in a nightmare, I cannot explain,” she said. “We go to bed, and here’s this emptiness in your heart. We wake up in the morning and here is this emptiness.”

Along with Don't Shoot PDX, the group Voz Hispana Cambio Comunitario was at the meeting.

Leader Francisco Lopez said he hopes county commissioners will take a proactive approach to form rules and partnerships that promote the peace and understanding that is right now lacking in the Portland area and across the nation.

“We hope that this will be the beginning of a serious engagement with the county board of commissioners to deal with these facts,” Lopez said. “Racism should not be tolerated in this county, not in this state, because we don't want things to get out of control like other parts of the country."

Community leaders said it was important to speak before the county in the wake of Wednesday’s meeting with Portland city councilors, where the council decided to delay the ratification of a new controversial police contract at the request of Black Lives Matter protesters.

The goal with the efforts at the county meeting, according to the activists, was to make sure that commissioners were aware of problems outside of just the scope of the city and ask them to be proactive as leaders to fight racism.

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