Welcome to Oregon Action!

Oregon Action is a statewide, multi-racial community organization dedicated to social justice.  We assist people to organize on their own behalf – with a focus on low-income people, people of color and others with limited access to traditional structures of power and policy-making.

Through leadership development and community organizing, we provide the organizational base for participatory democracy, just communities and a fair economy. More about Oregon Action…

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Legislature approves ‘End Profiling’ legislation, sends bill to Governor Brown for signature

July 1, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Mike Westling
(503) 498-8161
mike@brinkcomm.com

HB 2002 brings together law enforcement and communities around data collection, improved reporting, increased accountability

Salem, Ore. – The Oregon Senate approved legislation Wednesday to ban the practice of profiling as a law enforcement tactic with a vote of 28 to 1. HB 2002 will now head to Governor Kate Brown’s desk for her signature.

HB 2002 has received bipartisan support in both chambers of the Oregon legislature and has the backing of the Center for Intercultural Organizing, the NAACP, Basic Rights Oregon, Oregon Association Chiefs of Police, and the Oregon Sheriff’s Association.

“Profiling corrodes the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” said House Speaker Tina Kotek. “To eliminate profiling, we need to face it head on, recognize it and provide the means to report and address the problem when it occurs.”

“We need this law to protect the credibility of the policing function, because it is vital to our functioning civic life,” according to Chief Sponsor Representative Lew Frederick. “When people avoid calling the police because they fear them, the breakdown of civic order is almost as scary as the gun I faced during a nonsensical traffic stop. Imagine your reaction if you were pulled over in your car, or stopped while walking, for no discernible reason. Then imagine that it happens again and again. If you can imagine that, you’ve imagined a piece of our world. Profiling degrades the quality of our everyday lives. It needs to be illegal. It needs to stop.”

Currently in Oregon, each law enforcement agency is left to decide their own definition and process on profiling. Profiling occurs in every part of the state and impacts many different communities, and until now there has been no coordinated state policy to address it.

“The bottom line: profiling doesn’t make our communities safer,” said Senator Alan Bates. “By defining, tracking, and addressing profiling when it occurs, we can protect the freedoms of Oregonians while supporting our law enforcement community.”

HB 2002 defines profiling and clearly bans law enforcement from using profiling as a tactic in Oregon. The bill also requires law enforcement agencies to collect complaint data about profiling and establishes a process for accepting and addressing profiling complaints.

“Profiling occurs daily in many forms across Oregon, making those who are targeted by police often feel like prisoners in their own communities,” said Kayse Jama, Executive Director of the Center for Intercultural Organizing. “By defining profiling and establishing a consistent process for recording complaints, we can help build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. This legislation is an important step toward ending a systemic problem, but it does not mean our work is done. Actual change has to be felt on the ground.”

“To believe that there is no profiling within our state is to ignore the daily struggles that our minority communities go through because of profiling,”said Ricardo Lujan, Board Member for Oregon Action. “I encourage everyone to challenge themselves and become more aware of this issue and how it affects our neighbors. It is important for Oregon to make a change so that our neighbors, friends and families can feel safer.”

In addition, the bill would also create the Law Enforcement Profiling Work Group, a new entity tasked with proposing a process to identify patterns or practices of profiling, identifying methods to address and correct these practices and biased policies, and preparing a report identifying any additional statutory changes that are needed to achieve these goals.

“Profiling has no place in professional policing – it is discriminatory and ineffective,” said Kevin Campbell, Executive Director of the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police. “Law enforcement leaders here in Oregon continue to work to ensure that we have the most professional and just policing culture in the nation, to take reports of profiling seriously and to take action to make our communities safer. We’re supporting HB 2002 because we recognize that strong partnerships, better data, and additional options for citizens to file concerns and complaints all help law enforcement officers do their jobs.”

If you would like to interview Kayse Jama, Ricardo Lujan, or Kevin Campbell, please contact Mike Westling at mike@brinkcomm.com or (503) 498-8161 to coordinate.

About Fair Shot for All

Fair Shot For All is a broad coalition of community and labor groups that have joined together to push for real policy solutions that address economic inequality and give a better future for all Oregonians. This includes Family Forward Oregon, SEIU, AFL-CIO, AFSCME, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Basic Rights Oregon, CAUSA, Center for Intercultural Organizing, Oregon Education Association, PCUN, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, Rural Organizing Project, UFCW, and the Urban League of Portland, Oregon.

Our priorities are at the center of the economic debate happening both in Oregon, throughout our local communities and on a national stage. Together, we are mobilizing Oregonians and giving a voice to those who need a fair shot.

To learn more, visit www.fairshotoregon.org

 

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Supreme Court Victory

Rogue Valley residents celebrate the Affordable Care Act and what it means to our community.

Today, the Supreme Court rejected an attack on the Affordable Care Act, our country’s historic health care law. Now more than 8 million people can rest more easily knowing that their health insurance won’t be stripped away.

Oregon Action is proud to be a leader in the fight for health care for everyone in Oregon, and the passage of the ACA was a major victory.  Twice that law has come under attack in our highest court—and twice the United States Supreme Court has ruled that it’s here to stay.  There is reason to celebrate for those 6 million Americans whose health insurance was in jeopardy.

But let’s be clear: our work isn’t done.  Across this country many people – disproportionately people of color – are still shut out of quality health care because of cost, the language they speak, or, in some states, lawmakers’ refusal to expand Medicaid. Here in Oregon, 20,000 low-income children are categorically excluded from the medical assistance provided by the Oregon Health Authority.  It’s time to stop fighting over whether everyone in this country deserves quality, affordable healthcare—and it’s time to make healthcare a reality for all of us.

So today we celebrate, and tomorrow we go back to work to ensure everyone have access to quality, affordable, culturally appropriate care that we need.

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In Case You Missed It: Oregon Police Chiefs Endorse Legislation to End Profiling

Oregon Police Chiefs Endorse Legislation to End Profiling

Legislators establish workgroup to identify and address profiling practices, consolidate bills with bipartisan support during Wednesday work session

Medford, Ore. – The Oregon Association Chiefs of Police (OACP) announced their support this week for legislation designed to put an end to profiling in Oregon by clearly defining the problem in statute, collecting better data, and providing a path for reporting profiling complaints. The over 200 members of OACP include not only Chiefs of Police, but also police commanders, supervisors, and support staff from all over Oregon.

“First of all, I would like to thank the legislative sponsors and proponents of HB 2002 for engaging us in an important conversation regarding bias policing and the provisions of this measure,” said Kevin Campbell, Executive Director of the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police. “We worked collaboratively with the Center for Intercultural Organizing and other proponents to insure that Oregonians from all perspectives and backgrounds have a place to take their bias policing complaints if they don’t feel comfortable complaining directly to their local police agency. Bias policing is not professional policing and the members of the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police are committed to best practice standards in hiring, policies and training designed to insure that our police officers continue to have the full confidence of the communities they serve. Public confidence in the legitimacy of policing and in the work our police officers perform each and every day is absolutely critical to our effectiveness.”

The House Committee on Judiciary took action on April 20th to combine the three End Profiling bills (HB 2001, HB 2002 and HB 2003) into a single bill and move the legislation forward with bipartisan support. The committee also approved an amendment that would create the Law Enforcement Profiling Work Group, a new group tasked with evaluating how best to implement the new policies across the state.  The amendment requires data collection and sets up a system for people to report complaints and for those complaints to be reported back to local jurisdictions.

“The scariest thing to me is that so many people don’t believe that racial profiling exists in Oregon,” said Ricardo Lujan, Board Member for Oregon Action. “Profiling of all kinds damages the relationship between the law enforcement and our communities. By collecting data and providing accountability, this bill will make our neighborhoods and families safer.”

The work group will be tasked with proposing a process to identify patterns or practices of profiling, identifying methods to address and correct these practices and biased policies, and preparing a report identifying any additional statutory changes that are needed to achieve these goals.

The End Profiling legislation next moves to the Sub Joint Ways and Means Committee on Public Safety for approval before going to the full Ways and Means Committee and then a vote from the full legislature.

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Oregon Action is a grassroots organization focused on racial justice and economic issues affecting working people.

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Oregon House Passes Ban the Box

April 29, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Rose King, (503) 863.1363, rose@brinkcomm.com

Oregon House Passes ‘Ban the Box’ Legislation

Fair Chance For All Coalition applauds passage of HB 3025—a critical step in giving qualified job applicants who’ve paid their debts to society a fair chance at rebuilding their lives

(Salem, Ore.)—April 29, 2015—The Oregon House of Representatives today passed HB 3025, sending the bill to the Oregon Senate for approval. The legislation will prohibit employers from including questions about applicants’ criminal history on job applications. It is backed by The Fair Chance for All coalition, a group of more than 50 organizations in Oregon.

More than 32,000 people in Oregon are currently incarcerated or on community supervision and face barriers to housing and jobs. Nearly 11 percent of incarcerated Oregonians are African American, despite the fact that African Americans make up only 2 percent of Oregon’s overall population.

“Today, we are one step closer to banning the box so that thousands of people released from prison every year can obtain the jobs they need to support themselves and their families,” said Midge Purcell, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy for Portland Urban League. “These Oregonians need a second chance at rebuilding their lives.”

Successful employment is one of the most important factors for decreasing recidivism. A steady job provides not just financial resources, but also connections to a new community that can help reduce the risk of another offense.

“As a local business owner, I believe in second chances. Punishing people for a lifetime isn’t working,” said Barb Campbell, Bend City Councilor and owner of Wabi Sabi. “At the end of the day, I am looking for the most hardworking, qualified person for the job. A checked box doesn’t tell me everything I need to know about an applicant.”

Theresa Sweeney, an Oregonian with personal experience transitioning from incarceration to the community, continues to struggles with employment, despite earning a master’s degree in 2010.

“People say, ‘Pick yourself up by your bootstraps,’ and you do, but then there are still all these barriers,” said Sweeney. “It’s so frustrating. It’s been eleven years and I still face repercussions. It’s really hard.”

‘The box’ has already been removed from applications for City of Portland jobs in 2014 and Multnomah County jobs in 2007. If the legislature passes HB 3025, Oregon will join 100 jurisdictions and 16 states that have already banned the box, including: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.

The Portland City Council is also considering a ‘ban the box’ ordinance, which would apply to all employers in Portland.  A hearing was held on the resolution last month.

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Report from Minimum Wage Hearing at the Capitol

15 Now Rallies in the Rotunda at the Capitol – Makes headlines across the state

Hundreds of low-wage workers and advocates converged in Salem on Monday for a packed public hearing on minimum wage bills under consideration. Hours of testimony spoke to the experience of being working poor and struggling to make ends meet. Some cited the rising cost of rents and childcare costs and wept as they described their struggle to provide for their families and put food on the table while working full-time. The courage and fortitude of low-wage workers was met with applause in the multiple overflow rooms for the hearing.

Powerful testimony spoke to the disproportionate impact of poverty wages on women and people of color in Oregon, and sought to connect the struggle for living wages to civil rights, racial justice and the reduction of crime in poor neighborhoods.

Low-wage workers were joined in testimony by small business owners and members of the coalition Main Street Alliance, who spoke to the positive impacts of an increase in the minimum wage for local economies in the form of reduced turnover and increased spending. Before the packed chambers the owner of Portland’s Bipartisan Café Peter Emerson argued, “Money doesn’t trickle down.” He said, “When minimum wage employees earn a higher wage, that money stays in the neighborhood. It’s a cycle that thrives when there’s investment.”

Big business lobbyists and other critics of an increase in the minimum wage attacked the proposed bills and claimed that such a substantial increase to $15 would bring economic Armageddon, while advocates of the increase cited previous increases of similar size in both the federal and state minimum wages, noting that such fears have been invoked by big business since the first passage of minimum wage legislation in the 1930s.

Local Organizers Pledge to Take the Fight to the Ballot Next Year: A rally in the rotunda of the Capitol building (pictured above) was led by Rogue Valley Oregon Action board member and 15 now statewide organizer Kristi Wright and others. Rally organizers demanded that House and Senate Democrats take a stand with working families and raise the wage to $15. To great applause in the rotunda we declared our intentions to file a ballot initiative for a $15 minimum wage with a 3 year phase-in period for 2016.

Update Courtesy of Evan Lasley, Organizer for 15 Now Southern Oregon

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Jackson County Talks Poverty

Oregon Action participates in the first of a series of Community Conversations on important topics that impact our region

The real power of communities like ours is our ability to come together and connect on the common issues we all face together. That’s the idea behind the latest “Town Hall” discussion night on poverty. Please join us!

Wednesday, April 22 at 6:00pm
Large Meeting Room at the Medford Public Library
205 S. Central Avenue, Medford

A light supper will be served until the soup is gone

Facilitators:

Michelle Glass – Oregon Action
Mark Kellenbeck – Main Street Alliance
Rita Sullivan – OnTrack
Jeffrey Nichols – ACCESS
Bill Thorndike, Oregon Business Council
Jim Fong – Work Force

Please RSVP to CommunitiyConversations@gmail.com or call 541-773-1680

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Advancing Justice through Policy: 2015 Oregon Legislative Priorities

(Updated June 24th, 2015) Changing public policy through grassroots participation is one of the most powerful ways to advance justice and make a clear difference in the lives of thousands of Oregonians. The 2015 legislative session is a great opportunity to fight … Continue reading

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New Report on Healthcare Access

Signed into law in March 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) aimed to bring the uninsured more fully into the health care delivery system, improve access to health care providers, spur new approaches to patient well-being and disease prevention, attack racial disparities in health care and outcomes in communities of color, and hold providers accountable with respect to costs. By February 2015, 11.4 million Americans had signed up for private health insurance coverage through marketplace exchanges. An additional 8.7 million people gained coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The percentage of uninsured Americans dropped from 18 percent in 2013 to 12.9 percent at the end of 2014. By any standard, these numbers are impressive. But experience of the ACA at the ground level has been uneven across states and across communities. Reaching the ACA’s goals for enrollment and health care delivery reform will require learning from efforts to date and refining approaches to better meet the needs of all communities.

Oregon Action is proud to have been part of a nationwide grassroots effort to collect surveys from community members about their experiences with healthcare access after the implementation of the ACA. Follow the link below to read the full report on healthcare access from the community perspective:

Read the full report from the Alliance for a Just Society

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