Daily Archives: January 15, 2012

Bernie Giusto: Viewing Violence Through Rose Colored Glasses

It is good to know that The Oregonian thinks children should be the final arbiters of whether Oregon’s Intimidation laws have been broken in the case of the Tri Met light rail beating.

The newspaper of record apparently believes that Oregonians are too timid to have a discussion on whether the white 14 year old girl beaten by three black teens constitutes a racial intimidation crime. Its suggestion? We shouldn’t have the discussion at all. Reading the language and intent of the law and then applying it is just too—uncomfortable. 
The Oregonian’s Joseph Rose contends here that 14 year old Karley Backland should decide if she was racially intimidated on the Max train December 26th. See previous posts about it here, here, here, here. He figures she was the one there and– I guess by inference–should be the primary decision maker. His rationale, of course, contains the normal “pay-no-attention-to-the-man-behind-the-curtain*” realities of Portland. 

Yes, Karley told me, one of the strangers referred to her as “white girl.” But it was an encounter of a hundred insults. The girls were drunk on their own spit. These are the things bullies say.
“I really don’t think they singled me out because I was white,” the Centennial Middle Schooler said. “This wasn’t a racial thing.” (Remember, she was there.) 

This rose colored view of the purpose of why Oregon’s intimidation (not hate) laws exist is not only light-between-the-ears it is dangerous. This view pretends that somehow by using language like, “spit drunk”,”a hundred insults” and “thugs” to either distract or intentionally disregard the specific language and intent of the law that we should all just move on because there is nothing to see here. 

But this is what Karley told KOINLocal6 news about what her attackers said to her, 

“In their words it’s like, ‘this white girl this,’ ‘this white girl that.” “..thinks she can talk to us this way,’ and I was like, why does my race have to be put into it, this isn’t like, I don’t get it, I was not raised like that to put race into anything.”

See her comment at :44 here.

Hate with a capital “H” has nothing to do with this situation. We should not hate Tri-Met for providing the venue, we should not hate the police for their delayed response or the suspects for their crimes. And then we should clearly understand Oregon’s Intimidation laws say nothing about proving hate as any element of Intimidation in the First or Second Degree . In fact the challenge goes out to anyone to find that word as an element of the clearly “perception” based motivation as establishing intent of either statute:

             ORS 166.155  Intimidation in the second degree.  ( 1) A person commits the crime of intimidation in the second degree if the person 

(b) Intentionally subjects another to offensive physical contact because of person’s perception of the other’s race,color,religion,sexual orientation or national origin; a Class A Misdemeanor.

            ORS 166.165 Intimidation in the first degree. (1)   Two or more persons to acting together commit the crime of intimidation in the first degree, if the persons:
(b) Intentionally because of the actors’ perception of the others’ race,color,religion,sexual orientation or national origin place another in fear of imminent serious physical injury; a Class C Felony.

No hate, no evil focus on race alone but instead a law that since 1981 State of Oregon clearly finds that intimidating behavior based on any number of the actor(s) perception unacceptable and unlawful.  The law does not require that a victim suffer serious or for that matter any physical injury nor does it forgive the suspects for having other intent that clouds their judgment.  All the statute requires is that the police believe that there is probable cause to think that the suspect/s caused Karley Backland to be subjected to offensive physical contact or create the fear of imminent serious physical injury. Getting physically pummeled and spat upon by three suspects one of whom clearly notes the color of your skin while she is beating a victim seems to clearly qualify somehow, don’t you think?

Now you choose, either all three suspects qualify to be charged with Intimidation in the First Degree or the one suspect who verbalizes “white girl” during the attack needs to face the music for second degree intimidation or a combination of the two.

If you don’t trust police to make that distinction then let’s ask a Grand Jury. Let’s present the police reports and show the associated video to a jury of citizens the District Attorney often relies on to decide whether the elements of a crime exist in a given situation to charge the crime. Then we can all be as assured as our system allows that the intent of the law is judged not by irrelevant rhetoric around hate and an amateurish analysis but by the judgment of citizens who will want the intent of law followed.

I can’t figure out what the real purpose of Rose’s piece was on Friday. Was it meant to defend the suspects’ behavior as non intimidating or defend Tri-Met or take a shot a talk radio wearing their “hoods” of anonymity? “Hoods.” Interesting metaphor, Rose.

What we do know is that he just plain forgot to mention the police were a full two weeks late in investigating. According to the family, the  responding Transit officer tried to talk the 14 year old into not filing charges. They say he even told the teen she “didn’t look too good” in the video he’d seen. I wonder whose video he saw. Tri Met’s says its four cameras malfunctioned at the time of the beat down. Police say they didn’t make headway in the case until they saw the tape nearby on YouTube. Wonder what tape the officer saw that day.

Rose didn’t mention that tidbit, either.


Don’t underestimate the impact this incident has had on the public’s perception of their safety. Worse? That the police and some in the media think the decision to prosecute should be left in the hands of a 14 year old traumatized victim and not the rule of law.

Bernie Giusto is the retired Multnomah County Sheriff, former Gresham Police Chief, former Gresham City Councilman, former Oregon State Trooper and former Tri Met Board Member.

Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com

This Election, “Vote 4 Energy”

Once again, we are faced with an election year. Democrats & Republicans and others will be begging for our vote and for our money while making lavish promises most have no intention of keeping or won’t be able to.

We’ll see and hear each candidate boasting of some record or grand idea to fix our continuing economic struggles. From raising taxes on the wealthy to stopping tax breaks to corporations that create the jobs many have. From making past tax breaks permanent to cries of shrinking the size of government.

We’ll hear promises of how “Green” energy is the answer to our reliance to foreign oil.

We’ll be hearing blame slung around and catchy slogans to grab our attention and vote.

But who will really address issues that have and continue to create economic havoc in our lives? Who will take a stand to the radical environmentalists and bureaucrats who keep us highly dependent upon foreign oil and mired in this elongated “Great Recession” by blocking job creation?

Our energy security is not a partisan issue, it’s an American issue. That point is the driving force behind a new advocacy group, Vote4Energy that lists on their homepage, “A Vote 4 Energy is a vote for more jobs, higher government revenues and greater energy security.”

Jack Gerard, President and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, who created the Vote4Energy recently delivered a State of American Energy address (video of the address here).

Early in the address Mr. Gerard noted,

“What we say here in Washington is important because it is here, after all, that policy that affects all Americans is made.”
“But there are millions of other voices across the country, and what happens here should be a reflection of what Americans are saying.”
“And in poll after poll, over the last year, they have voiced their opinions about our energy choices. They have framed the issues in ways that are most relevant to their families, businesses and communities.”

Acknowledging the words heard in the video, Mr. Gerard stated,

“You know, it’s never a bad idea to listen to the American people.”
“Their comments can cut to the heart of things and find clarity—in sharp contrast to the confusion that often prevails today inside Washington’s Beltway.”
“Americans look for consensus, which has become rare in here in Washington.”
“Without question, in this election year, what voters are saying is: give us leadership.”
“Give us leaders who share our vision of a strong and prosperous America, based on our ability to create and innovate.”

If only our elected leaders took the time to remember or even acknowledge that our voices actually do matter. Regardless of party, it seems all too often once seated in their “cushioned seats of authority,” our voices seem lost and ignored to various lobbyists and special interests.

We in Washington State do not have a large presence of known reserves to be recovered, but we do have 5 refineries operating within the state. A study by Wood Mackenzie recently showed that with a smarter policy addressing our energy industry, we could see the addition of “19,805 new well-paying jobs in the state of Washington by 2030.”

Mark Green of the Energy Tomorrow blog reminds of the industry’s ability to create jobs needed to spark a meaningful recovery when he wrote,

“One in seven of today’s recent college graduates live at home today because they can’t find good jobs. In North Dakota, young people working in oil and gas hold jobs that pay more than their parents earn. The average oil and gas salary in North Dakota is more than $90,000 a year – more than double the state average. In Pennsylvania, Governor Corbett’s staff told me that shale gas development generated more than 90,000 jobs between 2009 and 2011. That development has also generated many millions of dollars of revenue to the state treasury.”

Addressing the failure and lack of vision seen from our current leaders in regards to the Keystone XL Pipeline proposal, Mark quotes Jack Gerard,

“Frankly, this vision and its policies are disconnected from current economic and energy reality, which is a landscape of global economic struggles and geopolitical challenges. This vision ignores the jobs and the energy that could be produced here in the U.S. Instead, it’s on a course for less energy, not more. These policies are failing us.”

How right they are as we see the highest unemployment America has seen in decades with failed policy after failed policy coming from Washington D.C.

Hopes of alternate energy sources remain short lived as we see idled and rusting wind farms spotting the landscape, alternate energy advocates blocking construction in their own back yards and read of cockamamie ideas like pumping cold water into a central Oregon volcano to generate steam for geothermal energy.

Vote4Energy provides a link to our elected officials in order that we may learn how they voted on matters concerning our energy policies. Maria Cantwell, up for reelection to the senate received a 0% rating for her stand on energy, not surprising considering she joined in with the 5 other West Coast Senators in advocating a “Permanent Moratorium” on all off shore recovery along the West Coast.

Jay Inslee, who would just love to be our next governor, also received a 0% rating for his congressional stand on America’s energy independence and security.

Vote4Energy says,

“There is a straightforward way to create American job loss, tackle the national debt and alleviate concern over our energy future. By increasing access to domestic resources and implementing other pro-development energy policies, the oil and natural gas industry can provide one million new American jobs, contribute hundreds of billions in government revenue and significantly increase our energy security, all by 2020.”

America, we need the energy. We need the security. We need to revenues that could be generated and above all, we need the jobs.

As campaigns unfold and ads hit the airways, I urge you all to question candidates on energy and economic matters. Look at their records and question their claims and promises. Don’t accept any at face value.

Above all, let’s Vote4Energy and begin climbing out of this economic morass several past poor choices has put us in.

Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com