The relationship between the black community in Portland and the Portland Police force remained largely unchanged throughout the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. There were three things that the black community in Portland wanted, although this can easily be applied to numerous Black communities across the country. These were, less police brutality, increased oversight of police activity, and to be more proportionately represented within police ranks. Even having just one of these requests acknowledged would have made a large difference. Having more black officers assigned to Albina could have lead to more fair policing of black Portlanders, just as increased civilian oversight could have lead to less instances of Police Brutality and more ability to hold those legally accountable who were using brutal policing of Albina residents.
The black population represented only 5 percent of the population in Portland in the 1960s and 7 percent in the 1970s. These numbers allow one to not be too surprised then that black officers represented only 1.7 percent of the police force. However, these numbers should make one question why 60 percent of the people killed by police in the 1970s were black, and why 45 percent of the arrestees in the 1960s were black. These kind of disproportionate numbers are not only found in Portland, and this pattern has not ceased since the 1970s. The Department of Justice report on the Ferguson Police Department uncovered a pattern of racially biased treatment towards Ferguson’s black community. This assertion was supported by police reports that revealed that from 2012 to 2014, despite African Americans only representing 67% of the city’s population, they compromised “85% of vehicle stops, 90% of citations, and 93% of arrests made”. Essentially, the experiences of black Americans with Law enforcement were for the most part wrought with brutality and discrimination.
In the book Black Rage in New Orleans: Police Brutality and African American Activism from World War II to Hurricane Katrina, author Leonard Moore uses extensive police reports and data to emphasize records of police brutality in New Orleans. However, he notes the difficulty in studying police brutality. In New Orleans, the police department refused to hand over records of brutality reports. Following integration, “the police presence drastically increased. As a result, there was an increase in police murders of African Americans, with “no serious investigation into their deaths; there was no indictment by the district attorney, nor did the offending officers receive any form of punishment; and all of the officers involved were back patrolling the streets immediately after the killings.”
Police encounters like this were not only happening to blacks in the south. On April 20, 1985, a black off-duty security guard, Lloyd “Tony” Stevenson, was killed by Portland police officers as he attempted to quell an altercation outside of a convenience store between a store owner and a man suspected of stealing. Unfortunately, Stevenson was the only black man in the crowd when the police arrived at the store. He was thrown to the ground by three officers and choked to death after one officer performed a chokehold on Stevenson. For the first time in 10 years, a public inquest was made into the death of Stevenson. The inquest determined that the death was a homicide, but the grand jury decided not to bring charges against the officers involved. Stevenson’s family was $600,000 by the city through a settlement out-of-court, but the fact that the officers who were involved in the murder of Stevenson were not held accountable is a testament that not much changed from the 1960s on.
Black Portlanders, though not widely publicized, also fell victim to events of deadly police brutality in recent years. On January 29, 2011, Portland Police responded to a welfare check after reports of an armed suicidal man were called in. This ended with 25-year-old Aaron Campbell being shot to death in the back. The actions of the police in this event almost thirty years after the Stevenson killing shows the continued pattern of police brutality in Portland. Not only did the Police tell Campbell’s family that he had killed himself, but after the family filed a lawsuit they experienced harassment at the hands of the Portland police.
The mother of Aaron Campbell, Marva Davis, asserted “it is a common perception in the Portland black community that the police will retaliate against anyone who challenges their authority”. This harassment is reminiscent of a pattern that black community members experienced throughout the 1960s and 1970s in response to activism for the civil rights movement or against specific agencies. Activists calling for a stop to discriminatory practices and brutality by law enforcement were labeled as militants or radicals. These actions were carried out on the federal level, down through the local level. It was common knowledge that the FBI’s intelligence unit was monitoring the actions of civil rights activists. Early in 1968, J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, widened the purview of COINTELPRO, the domestic counter-intelligence program, to cover several specific areas in which they wished to suppress activism. Oregon was one of these places, which naturally implied a focus on Portland. The aim of COINTELPRO was to work with local police in order to “disrupt and discredit” various civil rights organizations and activity.
During the summer of 1967, a young activist attending the Irving Park events in Albina commented to the Oregonian about how the black community felt at the time. His comments, while pointed at the Portland area, are applicable to most black communities at some point or another during the last several decades. “Where else but in Albina do cops hang around the streets and parks all day like plantation overseers? Just their presence antagonizes us. We feel like we are being watched all of the time”.
 Department of Justice, Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department, 4.
 Leonard N. Moore. Black Rage in New Orleans: Police Brutality and African American Activism from World Was II to Hurricane Katrina (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2010) Pg. 51.6
 Tom Hallman, “Portlander Dies after Police Use ‘Sleeper Hold,’” Oregonian, April 21, 1985, 1.
 Maxine Bernstein, “Family of Man Killed by Police Adds Allegations,” Oregonian, March 18, 2011, 1.
 Leanne C. Serbulo & Karen J. Gibson, “Black and Blue: Police-Community Relations in Portland’s Albina District, 1964-1985,” Oregon Historical Quarterly 114 (2013): 14.
 William Sanderson, “Bitter, Frank, Articulate, Youth of Albina Speaks Up,” Oregonian, August 6, 1967, 74.