Governor Kate Brown has recognized June 19 as Juneteenth — a Texas-centered observance marking the end of slavery in the United States — with a statewide proclamation, and says she will introduce a bill next year asking legislators to make it an official state holiday.
Governor Brown also announced that she is creating a task force focused on statewide law enforcement training, standards, and accountability, after weeks of state and nationwide protests calling for police reform and the end of systemic racism.
“This year, celebrating Black freedom and achievement on Juneteenth is more important than ever as people across Oregon, the United States, and around the world protest systemic racism and unequivocally show that Black Lives Matter,” Governor Brown said.
Brown called her proclamation a “small, yet important step” in the fight for racial justice and equality.
“It’s important to me that Oregon is a place that everyone can call home, and thrive,” she said. “That’s always been my focus and I remain committed to that.”
The governor’s new Public Safety Training and Standards Task Force is being created to recommend improvements to the training and certification of Oregon law enforcement officers, the governor explained.
Their work will focus on incorporating best practices, research and data — as well as racial equity — into law enforcement training and certification and developing best practices around de-escalation and the use of force in accomplishing lawful objectives.
“I have been proud to see Oregonians standing up peacefully and making their voices heard in calling for racial justice and real criminal justice reform, even in the middle of this pandemic, because the need for change is so pressing,” said Governor Brown. “But words from leaders aren’t enough. We need action. It’s time for a full review of law enforcement training, certification, and decertification practices.”
The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners also passed a new resolution on Thursday, decrying acts of violence against Black Americans — including those in Oregon and in Clackamas County — an “outrage,” vowing to listen to communities of color and improve the county’s policies and practices that disproportionately disadvantage minorities and low-income families.