Comments on The Neuroscience of Prejudice

I accidentally got a press pass to the Science on Tap production called “You and Your Racist Brain: The Neuroscience of Prejudice” held at Portland’s Revolution Hall on October 3, 2016. Now I’d better write something. They had the lights down in the audience so I could take no notes. This is how I remember it after eleven days with travel to Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and State College, PA for a sweet silver re-walk, no cake.

One of the first slides was of a Black man holding a White baby, and that baby wasn’t crying at all. The first conclusion was that we humans have no inherent preference for skin color, nose size, eye shape or any other physical attribute. We like faces that care for us.

Is that obvious? Humans, like other animals, are strange products of nature and nurture. Rabbits are famous for being instinctively afraid of a hawk’s shadow. And humans too seem to have instinctive or “non-associative” fears like that of loud noises. Personally, I feel that my discomfort at heights is instinctive, and yet how would I know? It had been commonly thought that humans instinctively fear snakes, and one could bloviate the usual evolutionary benefits. More recent studies show that fear of snakes is a learned response, and that this is also true of other primates. All of us apes effectively associate snakes with danger, and no kids need to get bit. Ooo Ooo Ooo!

The speaker explained that rather than an instinctive preference for skin color, or any other physical attribute, infants learn to see faces starting with their primary care givers. In our society children tend to first see their parents, then siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors and friends. If these faces all share certain features, such as earlobe-attachment, eye shape, or shade, then the growing child will specialize in seeing these features. By age 4 or 5 a human child raised in a relative mono-culture will have measurably different neurological responses to faces to those they have already seen and to those with different features.

Does that make sense? Shoot, early human didn’t even have mirrors so how would an individual ever know what they looked like? What else could evolving humanoids know except what they saw? As Sartre always said, “existence precedes essence.” “The human brain is strong and flexible,” that’s what I always say.

To illustrate the results of the neurological studies, the speaker showed activity in the face-recognition area of the brain of a White guy looking at a White guy compared with that of a White guy looking at a Black guy. The White guy’s brain was lit up while looking at the White guy and just about off when looking at the Black guy. And there were affirmative um hmmm’s thorough the audience. If we assume that the White guy had been trained mostly on White faces, then this is expected within the conditioned response model of facial recognition. Indeed, the speaker mentioned that if the White guy is given a few minutes to study Black faces before being tested, then his brain lights up just fine when viewing the Black guy.

Is that surprising? Well, it reminded me of our trip to Korea last year. When we first arrived in Seoul, I was somehow surprised at the diversity of the Korean people. I guess I thought there were Koreans who kind of look like my mother-in-law and Koreans who kind of look like my father-in-law with a couple of odd uncles-in-law thrown in. Well, there is a lot more variety than that. More to the point is that after a week of traveling around and seeing more and more phenotypes, I lost the sense of Korean-ness altogether. I remember seeing a pedestrian from the bus who looked just like Peter Loben, my childhood neighbor and the only White guy on our high school basketball team. A second later, I couldn’t remember if Peter’s doppel-ganger was Korean or a Westerner or What. There was just something Peter-Lobenish about them.

The next few slides were about how the brain processes visual information. Like I said, I couldn’t take notes because it was so dark in there. It went something like: When a photon hits the eyeball the resulting signal from the optic nerve bounces off the back of the brain and splits into two signals, one for each hemisphere. One of the signals is used for movement and the other for recognizing static objects. There are known brain injury cases where the person could only see a series of static images. The upshot was that healthy humans are very good and fast at responding to visual cues like a 70 mile-per-hour ping pong ball or a human face. The speaker called this the “automatic response” in that it occurs before higher level frontal-lobe stuff kicks in.

Is that somewhat reminiscent of Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow?” Maybe this would be more like “Thinking Very Fast.” In any case, I sure try to turn off the conscious-linguistic part of my brain when playing ping pong. And it makes some sense to call my counter-attack “automatic.” However, as there is likely no ping pong gene, it is only “automatic” in the context of thousands of hours of training. With facial recognition, the training is measured in millions of hours. Because of this, I find the use of the term “automatic response” confusing. The scientific evidence presented showed two things: that humans instinctively respond quickly to faces, and that the response is wholly conditioned. It is only the quickness that can be called “automatic.” The particular neural response, whether positive, negative or indifferent, is a simple reflection of conditioning. I would call that a “fast conditioned response” way before I called it an “automatic response.”

To demonstrate how quickly our brains recognize facial features, the speaker flashed millisecond images of human faces. Most audience members seemed to recognize a Black man with a white beard in the first slide. Somewhat fewer seemed to understand the young Asian woman in the next. In any case, the speaker concluded that we can never be color blind like we thought we were supposed to be in the 60’s, and that we evolved to be so adept and quick at facial recognition, that we will always see the color of the other.

What do we think of that? Well, the press is no use unless it is critical.

“You and Your Racist Brain: The Neuroscience of Prejudice” is worth seeing on two levels: It presents neurological evidence that humans are not at all racist and at the same time demonstrates how difficult it is to escape our racial environment. Is the image of a Black man holding a White baby racist? I don’t know. I’d say that it made a certain impression because of our racial environment.

What about the image of a blank-brained White guy looking at a Black guy? I’d call that one racist. Science shows that recognition of faces has no causal relationship with the skin color of the viewer. I’d call it racist, because the image both does not communicate the science and does play into racial stereotypes.

Our shared racial environment is seen in the language of the speaker and how that language is heard. The speaker called the rapid interpretation of facial features an “automatic response.” When the White guy’s brain didn’t fire for the Black guy, this was because of a lack of “automatic response.” There were affirmative um hmmm’s throughout the audience at this. The problem here is that the “automatic” part only refers to the quickness and not the quality of the response. A few quotes from the advertisement for the talk illustrate how easily this is perverted: “…automatic prejudice that contributes to racism in our society…” and “… preconceived opinions about other people are not based on reason or experience but on instinct.” These statements are both at odds with the science presented and at evens with the prevailing racial winds.

How racially trained our brains are is further revealed in the millisecond images flashed on the screen. I question the conclusion that we can never be color blind like we thought we were supposed to be in the 60’s. There was certainly no scientific evidence presented for this hypothesis. The scientist in the speaker knew this and tried to finesse the proof by using the audience as test subjects. Indeed, we quickly ID-ed a Black man with a white beard. This, however, does not pass the science sniff test. We, the test subjects, were raised in racial times and are neurologically trained to ID a Black man with a white beard. This training disqualifies us as test subjects to project onto tomorrow’s or yesterday’s humans. It seems more likely that such flash-image experiments reveal whatever attributes society tells us are important, whether nose length, forehead angle, eye shape or any of uncountably many other attributes. In other words, the speaker’s flash image demonstration is a snapshot of our collective conditioning. It may be possible to teach a dog to respond to another dog’s color, and this seems like the last thing on the average dog’s mind.

The main scientific conclusion of the presentation is that human facial recognition is consistent with a blank-slate theory: Infants have no instinctual preferences for facial types; rather, we humans simply learn to recognize whatever facial features we see. This is reinforced by the second conclusion: Even White adults trained for decades on a relative mono-culture of faces can learn to see different faces in a matter of a few minutes. This simple and encouraging message was obscured by the sum of our racially-conscious histories. The image of a blank-brained White man looking at a Black man got affirmative ‘um hmmm’s from the audience and yet hid the interesting science. Finally, the use of the term “automatic response” is too easily misconstrued to “automatic prejudice,” which is wholly unscientific.

Eastside democratic Club Minutes for October 4, 2016

12:12 David welcomes everyone and reminds them that membership is only $5 per year and then you get to vote. David offered the group free lawn signs for the county-wide campaign finance reform measure 97. Due to time constraints that was the only announcement. There were 49 people in attendance.

Tom moved to amend the agenda with no seconds.

12:14 David introduced Chloe Eudaly who is running for City Council against the incumbent Steve Novick.

Ms Eudaly told us how to pronounce her name and that she is a life-long resident of Portland. The owns a runs a misssion-driven bookstore and is a Mom of a child with disabilities. She is an advocate for inclusion. In the last four of years her rent went up 60% and she struggles with housing costs and student loans. She can’t afford vacations. There are ripple effects to the financial squeeze: poor people don’t spend money. Another effect is that our city emergency workers are understaffed: everyone is moving to Clackamas where they can afford to live. Because of all the ripple effects and personal experience, housing is her top issue.

Ms Eudaly reminds us that she would be only the 8th women on City Council in 100 years. She said that Mr Novick is claiming that there is no real difference between them and points out several including: campaign finance reform, superfund cleanup, he supports Terminal 1 as a housing solution, and he supports the in-through-Wiener’s-backdoor Uber.

The first question was about the Police Contract and she said that it was one-sided with no gain for citizens and that there are deeply ingrained problems with Portland Police.

Next question was: Did she pay workers less than minimum? Her bookstore does a lot of not-for-profit work and there are some volunteers. She pays her worker-workers 20% over minimum.

Next: Isn’t is hypocritical to support $15 Now and pay you own workers less than $15/hr? No, she is a micro business and supports a tier-wise implementation starting with the larges firms. By the time is gets around to small businesses they will then be able to afford it.

Next on the agenda was Justin. He told us that zoom care wants to be on every corner in Seattle and Portland. The problem is that they operate on a system of exclusivity, only catering to health young and well-off folks. They do not even accept medicare. Justin is organizing a series of protests outside of Zoom offices with the hopes of bringing them to the table and the next one in October 18th at 2pm on NW 23rd.

There was a motion to endorse his campaign and this easily passed with only a few nos and abstentions.

Jim Hill was the next speaker. Mr Hill served in the Oregon House and Senate and became the first person of color to hold state-wide office when he became treasurer. Now he is a write and spoke about his book: ‘The new N word’. He started with a brief biography.

I’m 69 and grew up under racial segregation. We were second class citizens by law. I served 10 years in the legislator and then 2 terms as treasurer. I ran for governor twice and was then done with politics. When the economic crisis hit in 2008 I realized that we were a plutocracy. Discrimination is different than it was in the south growing up – now it is class based. Whites are getting poorer and poorer and are seen by corporate powers as merely cheap labor. It breaks my heart to see poor whites being treated as we were.

Mr Hill then read some from his book, emphasizing the (underused) power of the vote. He especially admonished women, who make up half the population, to vote for their interests. He finished by suggesting that we don’t vote for any candidate that takes big money. He has been there ‘dialing for dollars’ and can testify that decisions are make through the prism of campaign cash.

Audience question: What has changed since you were Treasurer?
Mr Hill: The rise of corporate power. Banks are now openly elitist.

Q: Wheeler took money from mega-polluter Bulls Eye Glass: does that disqualify him?
A: I don’t know the details of that and political decisions are make through the prism of money.

Q: (From a white women) Does the title of your book diminish Black people?
A: I lived it and Mama worse and her Mama even worse. We are now all in the boat together.

Q: If you were Treasurer now, would you divest from fossil fuel?
A: We did pass an anti-apartheid bill then and, yes, I would divest from fossil fuel now.

The final act of show was pro and con on Portland’s housing bond. This is a $250M deal to provide some low cost housing. The Yes Campaign send Ryan ___ and the No side was represented by Micheal Withey of Micro Community Concepts. (I moderated and so didn’t take notes). There was no disagreement and to the need of more affordable housing in Portland. The Yes side emphasized this and the con side emphasized the high cost per unit and general untrustworthiness and developer-first mentality of this Portland City Council.

Portland Police Contract Testimony

I’ve been feeling writer’s blocked with an essay called ‘A Cop Named Sue.’ Luckily I went to City Hall this morning and signed up to testify. Luckily again I didn’t come up before the lunch break and I had time to write the testimony below. Nothing better for breaking writers block than ‘you are going to speak at city hall in an hour: Go!’

My name is Joe Meyer and I object to the proposed police contract on the theory called, ‘civilian control of law enforcement.’

I have volunteered as a reporter at KBOO radio and as a research scientist with Portland Police Forensics. And I just speak for myself.

My objection to this contract is in a context where I see the whole world increasing ruled by force; with strange fruit dying all over American streets; and where white juries still find white killers innocent and innocent black kids, like Mohamed Mohamed, guilt.

I moved to Portland over 15 years ago and haven’t always had that nice ‘civilian control of police’ – and I don’t just mean the strip searches at the airport.

After Mayor Potter stepped back from the JTTF – because he would not have control or even information about what Portland Police officers did – the FBI orchestrated its famous ‘Real Christmas Tree and Fake Bomb Show’.

And the next day Commissioner Saltzman proposed that we rejoin the JTTF and we did.

The scary thing about that tree lighting ceremony was that the Police chief and select officers were part of the sting operation and yet Mayor Adams didn’t know anything about it.

I have also seen Portland Police officers Humphry and Nice, the brutal murderers of James Chasse, be reinstated with back pay because an arbitrator said so.

Probably many of use have seen Jason Renaud’s Alien Boy and would agree that Chasse didn’t have to die.

And that a shocking combination of callousness and brutality by the police caused his death.

In that context Police union president Daryl Turner is quoted by the Oregonian as saying:
“Sergeant Nice and Officer Humphreys were trained to police. They are not paramedics or nurses”

And likewise was Ron Frashour reinstated arbitratorly after he shot in the back and killed an an unarmed Black man named Arron Campbell. Say his name.

None of this is adding up to a warm, ‘civilian control of police’ feeling for me.

I covered the Mohamed Mohamed Federal Trial here in Portland and was surprised and saddened at the way law enforcement skillfully prevaricated and outright lied on the witness stand.

And they got their all white conviction.

I also covered the disorderly conduct trial of Teressa Raiford and was alarmed at how similarly Portland Police prevaricated and outright lied on the witness stand.

That is not the kind of police training I would like to see with my tax dollar.

By the end of the trial I agreed with the defense attorney’s claim in his opening statement: Portland Police Sargent Jacob Clark and Portland Police Officer Susan Billard colluded to deprived Teressa Raiford of her civil liberties.

Let’s save some money and stop doing that.

Regarding the issue before us today, I recommend along with Portland Cop Watch, Don’t Shoot Portland, the ACLU and many fine citizens, that you table this contract for the new city council. And to use the time to have a real discussion of what civilian control of police looks like.

Transcendental PE@Reed

It was the beginning of the second week so I asked one of the students to pick the attendance question. S, who is already a strong player, said ‘Favorite breakfast cereal’. I started with, ‘O equals K….. my name is Joe and I like Honey Crunches of Oats’. And I do like Honey Crunches of Oats and all that good-for-you-looking sweetness. Anyway, it comes around to S-who-is-a-strong-player and they say,’My name is S, and I like coffee and a bagel’. Shoot, I would have said ‘coffee and a bagel’ in a second.

After attendance I asked if there were any philosophy majors in the class. When no one raised their hand, I reminded them about K Popper’s theory of knowledge. Popper considered human knowledge as a separate organ shaped by conjecture and refutation. Popper calls induction an illusion and deprecates conjecture to guess, leaving refutation to do the work. His theory is attractive not in the least because of its fine homologonimity with Darwinian evolution. In any case, this is just how you learn ping-pong: Every shot a conjecture; The net the benignly-indifferent critic. Within K Popper’s theory of knowledge then, the role of the instructor, c’est moi, is to provide realms in which students can fruitiously err. Part of that realm is called: Forehand equals forearm to forehead, like this!

Pair Up!

Couple of simple ones and then try to step back from the table. That’s the ticket, couple of good ones there. Don’t forget your giant fish bowl: don’t break through the middle, polish the whole thing, like this! Good, good, good. Put the lid on it! Like this! Try and see how slowly you can hit it: large momentum plus small velocity equals good shot. Nice! Get your luggage. Like this! Good equals shot! Don’t forget: they bounce space craft off Jupiter not Mercury!

We rotated partners every five minutes counter clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, skipped coaches, and continued our practice in a like manner until special-treat game time at 6. It was easy to split the class into two teams since there were 8 of them and still at table. I never liked that thing about lining them up against the wall and having two captains pick them to the last drop.

Okay! This game is called ‘Round About’. You have 4 players to a team and you start with a player at each of the 4 sides of the table. Like bridge, we will call these North, South, East and West. Play starts with South serving to North and continues with North hitting to West who has taken South’s place, West hitting to East who has replaced North, East to North, North to West who hits to South, starting the cycle again. The goal is to get consecutive hits. To start the game I will say the word ‘Start’. Start.

Luckily, my assistant coach asked me to maybe pick up a couple of balls and they got started rotating the table while keeping the ball in play in no time. After ten minutes I rang the ding-ding-ding bell and found out that the score was 14-7 with just 4 minutes left. Luckily, said I, the second round is double scoring. Each team selects a Vogel-im-Baum and the other three rotate the table. To start the game, I name a category and each time the ball is struck the Vogel-im-Baum has to say something in that category. If Vogel-im-Baum can’t think of anything or repeats then that is the same as a miss: I equals E start equals over. Ready: ‘Animals of North America!’

My assistant coach admitted that they didn’t really remember this version themselves. And I suggested, ‘Bear’, ‘Deer’, ‘Salmon’. After some further elucidation we were ready to try again. Ready: ‘transcendental numbers’.

Luckily, the bell rang, with a: Ding-ding-ding thanks for a fun class, if you have a few minutes please help put the equipment away. And I think I saw D-who-knows-pi-to-200-digits smile.

Eastside democratic Club Minutes 20160705

EsdC 20160705

12:12 David Welcomes and asks for announcements.

Harriet announced that Sisters of the Road is doing a money match right now for donations. Since we usually donate to them at the end of the year, how about we donate while the money match is happening. It was moved and seconded that EdC donate $75.00. Passed 35ish – 0.

David announced a petition for county-wide campaign finance reform.

Our first guest was David Rodgers of the Oregon ALCU. David spoke about DAs as the most powerful elected official you rarely vote for. 80% of DA elections in Oregon are uncontested and this gives them a free pass. The DA association actively and effectively lobby lawmakers and block reform. Since 90% of cases are settled by plea bargain and mandatory minimums are daunting, the DA has become the most powerful player in the justice system. DA’s have the habit or retiring mid-term so that their appointed successor can glide in as an incumbent.

After the break, Jason Renuad spoke about the DOJ settlement with the Portland Police. Jason introduced himself as someone who works at the intersection of law inforcement and people with mental illness. Following up on Mr Rodgers’ talk, he mentioned that DA’s are notoriously lax in filing charges against police officers. Mr Renaud is collecting stats about death in custody and keeps fields like ‘experiencing mental illness’. The DOJ settlement has 186 items and addresses training, accountability, and the mental health system. The settlement is so complex that it is a diversion. What is needed is the ability to hold individual officers accountable and what is prescribed is aimed at everyone. That is, we need the ability to fire individual cops more than we need another level of training for everyone.

Eastside democratic Club Minutes

une 7, 2016

The meeting started around 12:08 with David Delk presiding and 25ish in attendance.

David called for announcements:

Hershel is making the coffee while Maxine recovers.

350 dot org has lots of neighborhood groups and you might want to join one.

Paying the Price for Peace will show at the Clinton Street Theater Sunday July 3rd with S Brian Willson in attendance.

Joe moved that the Eastside democratic Club endorse the measure to reform campaign finance.
John seconded and it passed 21-0.

Joe moved that the Eastside democratic Club endorse the measure to keep outdoor school open.
John seconded an it passed 19-0.

We heard from Jules Boykoff on a political history off the Olympics. It started as a
game among financial elites: if you ever worked you were disqualified. Prof Boykoff intoned that just as fear is used to fleece, so to are the magic rings of the games. Projected public expense of putting on the games is typically low balled by a factor of between 5 and 10 and it keeps working! To date, only the voters of Denver successfully rejected Olympic overtures.

After a short break we heard from Brandon Thompson of Keep Oregon Working. Rich people are funding a lot of anti-progressive measures for the November ballot. They want to roll back workers rights and limit access to basic health care.

Script for White Man Said Walk

Teressa Raiford Trial Recreation

Juror:  An activist herself.
Defense Attorney: patient, logical, right
Prosecutor: sharp guy, wants to win, frustrated by lack of evidence
Officer Sue: Trying to fit into the tough guy environment, admires Jake.
Officer Jake: Tough guy smiling for the $%#% jury, want to help Sue fit in.
Officer Kris: Veteran officer, weary of this, tilting testimony out of duty not conviction.
Officer Randi:    Simple ‘yes sir’ attitude, conflates clumsily  

Notation Notes:
  ‘…’ means to take a full breath on mic

Narrator:: Monday morning Judge Michael Greenlick held a pretrial hearing to see if the police even had probable cause to arrest Ms Raiford. The prosecutor started by calling Portland Police Sergeant Jacob Clark to the Stand.

Prosecutor:: Were you the officer in charge on Aug 9, 2015,

JacobClark:: I was.

Prosecutor:: What were your goals on that day?

JacobClark:: Our goals were to allow people to protest, to ensure the public safety, and to keep traffic moving.

Prosecutor:: What happened?

JacobClark::  I got a call shortly after three from Officer Billard. About 100 protesters took over the intersection at 82nd and Division.

Prosecutor:: Then what happened?

JacobClark::  I put out a call for all available units and headed over. By the time I got there the intersection was clear. Almost all of the other protesters moved to the sidewalk on the South side of the street. When she remained in the street, I assembled a team of volunteers on the North side. I went over with my volunteers and gave her several warnings to get on the sidewalk…

I told her to get out of the street or else she would be arrested.
She just walked away from me.
THAT’s when I gave the order to arrested her.

Prosecutor:: No further questions.

Narrator:: Before we continue with the cross examination of Sergeant Clark, let’s hear from Kelly Simon from ACLU-Oregon on what defines disorderly conduct.

Narrator:: Back in court, Mr Matthew McHenry cross examined Sargent Jacob Clark for the defense (..that is for Teressa Raiford)

McHenry:: Did you see Ms Raiford block any cars?

JacobClark:: No

McHenry:: Did you see any cars have to alter in any way?

JacobClark:: No

McHenry:: Why did you arrest Teressa Raiford?

JacobClark:: She was standing in the street, that is disorderly conduct. I told her several times to get out of the street. When she disobeyed, I had her arrested.

McHenry:: No more questions.

Narrator:: Then Portland Police Officer Susan Billard took the stand and the Prosecutor asked:

Prosecutor:: What happened on August 9, 2015?

Billard: I was driving North on 82nd at about 3 PM. There was a crowd of protesters blocking the intersection at Division. I called it in.

Prosecutor:: What happened next?

Billard:: Sergeant Clark was the officer in charge and he had us observing from the North side of the street. Then he called for volunteers to go across the street.  I volunteered.

Prosecutor:: Then what happened?

Billard:: We went across and she was still standing in the street yelling and screaming and blocking traffic. We gave her several warnings. When she disobeyed Sergeant Clark gave the order and I arrested her. I arrested her with Officer Miller.  We thought it would be nice if two female officers arrested her.

Prosecutor:: No more questions

Narrator:: Defense Attorney Matthew McHenry cross-examined Officer Billard

McHenry:: Why did you arrest Teressa Raiford?

Billard: Sergeant Clark ordered me to.

McHenry::  …Before you arrested her, you observed her from the North side of the street?

Billard: Yes

McHenry: and you could see that she was in the street?

Billard::  Yes, everyone else obeyed, she only one left in the street.

McHenry:: and did you see her obstruct traffic?

Billard::  Yes, several cars had to stop; they were honking and couldn’t get through.

McHenry: … OK, About how long did they have to stop?

Billard:: Probably 5 minutes. In was at rush hour on Monday and there was a lot of traffic. 82nd is officially designated a highway, it’s Oregon Highway 213.

McHenry:  uhhhh, can you check your notes, was August 9th a Monday?

Billard::   …ummm,well, it was a very busy hour on Sunday and it is highway 213..that is true.

McHenry:: You testified that several cars were stopped for ‘up to 5 minutes’

Billard:: yes, about 5 minutes.

McHenry:: So, if there were a video it would show cars (stopped because of..)

Prosecutor:: Object! Speculation, he said `if`

McHenry:: …I have no further questions

Narrator::After the police witnesses leave, Defense attorney Matthew McHenry argued that officer Billard’s testimony was unreliable: she got the day wrong and her testimony of stopped cars contradicted the youtube video of the events that occurred on August 9, 2015. Here is what Judge Michael Greenlick said, audio courtesy of the Oregonian.

Narrator::Since Sergeant Clark didn’t see Ms Raiford block traffic and Officer Billard was found not truthful, Judge Greenlick ruled that there was no probable cause for the arrest. Yet the trial moved ahead. Again, here’s Kelly Simon from the ACLU to explain why:


Narrator:: With Judge Greenlick determining the trial should continue, jury selection was held on   Tuesday morning. The pool of twenty-one potential jurors included three minorities, none of whom were African-American. A panel of six jurors and one alternate was finally selected. Shortly before 2pm, the prosecution began with its opening arguments.

Prosecution::  Black lives do matter. Black lives, definitely, do, matter. And on August 9, 2015 Teressa Raiford went to 82nd and Division with the intent of making that story heard. And she has every right to tell her story; to honor Mike Brown, to wave her signs, and to chant her chants. Sadly, Ms Raiford’s story that day was more than just speech.  She intentionally led hundreds of protesters into a busy Portland intersection and she shut, traffic, down.  You will see a video with a full bus trapped, and cars honking, all while protesters are shouting ‘whose streets? Our streets!’ – That is all the evidence you need to know that she intended to obstruct traffic and that she did in fact obstruct traffic on a public highway.

You will hear testimony showing that the police gave the defendant several warnings and when she refused to get out of the street she was arrested. Your job as a jury is to separate Ms Raiford’s passionate message that Black lives really do matter with her actions on August 9th. Her plan that day was to take over that intersection, to obstruct the public way, to force people to listen to her story – even if they had someplace else to go.

When you consider all of the evidence it is clear that Teressa Raiford had the intent to, and did in fact, intentionally obstruct traffic on a public way. According to Oregon Law, that is disorderly conduct. This is not about free speech, this it is about taking responsibility for your actions, it is about following the law. I am confident you will dispassionately consider the evidence, do your duty, and see, justice, done.

Narrator::Defense attorney McHenry started with a brief biography

McHenry:: My client, Teressa Raiford is a native Portlander. She graduated from Jefferson High school and eventually  moved to Texas where she was a successful business women. In 2010 she came back to Portland for a visit and while she was here, tragically, her nephew was killed. Ms Raiford never returned to Texas and has been an activist ever since. She started leading demonstrations, advocating for change, and she made a lot of people very uncomfortable. Her work as an activist often draws a police presence and they know exactly who, she, is.  ‘

On August 9, 2015 Ms Raiford organized a community art project to honor the life of Mike Brown. It was a family event with many children present. There was an open mic session in which many people spoke, then there was a group decision to take it outside. As you will see on a video, there is art, drumming, chanting as a large group took over the intersection for 4 and a half minutes to collectively honor the 4 and a half hours Mike Brown spent dying in the street. Then the vast majority of demonstrators moved out of the intersection and back on to the sidewalk.  Some people, including Ms Raiford and several other individuals, continued to lead chants, to keep the energy up and the sign waving going.

Suddenly, a large police presence appeared across the street and THAT changed the mood of the crowd. Ms Raiford continues to lead chants and keep other activists on the sidewalk.  She sees other people in the street and they are not arrested. Then, 4 heavily armed officers march over and arrest Teressa Raiford and charge her with disorderly conduct.  

The evidence will show that she was raising her voice that day, the same as dozens of others. The evidence will show that the police had a plan to arrest Teressa Raiford before the event even started. The evidence will show that Teressa Raiford was arrested because she is Teressa Raiford not because she committed any crime that day. Thank you.

Narrator: The first witness in front of the jury was Sergeant Jacob Clark.  The prosecutor asked:

Prosecutor:: Sergeant Clark, how long have you been with the force?

JacobClark:: I’ve been with the force for about 12 years

Prosecutor: Is 82nd a busy street?

JacobClark:: – Yes, 82nd is busy. It’s officially designated Oregon highway 213.
Prosecutor:: What happened on August 9th?

JacobClark:: A group of about a 100 protesters took over the intersection of 82nd and Division.  We got everyone back on the sidewalk except one women would not get out of the street.

Prosecutor:: And is that was women in this courtroom?

JacobClark:: – yes

Prosecutor::  Can you point her out?

JacobClark:: – Yeah, She is right over there

Narrator:: And he points right at Teressa Raiford.

Prosecutor:: Did you give her a warning before you arrested her?  

JacobClark:: Yes, we gave her several warnings.

Prosecutor:: Why did you arrest her?

JacobClark:: She was the only one that wouldn’t get out of the street, standing in the street is disorderly conduct, so I had her arrested.

Prosecutor: No more questions.

Narrator:: Defense attorney Mr. Matthew McHenry cross examined Portland Police Sergeant Clark

McHenry: Did you receive training in how to testify?

JacobClark:: Yeah, a long time ago.

McHenry:: To look the jury in the eye?

JacobClark:: Sure

McHenry:: You got the call from Officer Billard just after 3?

JacobClark:: yeah, about that.

McHenry:: And got back at what, 3:10, 315?

JacobClark:: yeah, about that.

McHenry:: That wasn’t the first time you were at 82nd and Division that day?

JacobClark:: True

McHenry:: You had been staking them out since noon?

JacobClark:: I was parked nearby since about noon.

McHenry: You were parked where they couldn’t see you?

JacobClark:: I’d hope so.

McHenry:: And what time did you leave the scene?

JacobClark:: I left about 3 minutes before I got the call from Officer Billard.

McHenry:: When you got back to 82nd and Division, did you see any cars blocked?

JacobClark:: No

McHenry:: Did you see any car have to alter in any way?

JacobClark:: No

McHenry:: Did anyone from the public complain to the police?

JacobClark:: No

McHenry:: Why did you focus on Teressa Raiford?

JacobClark:: – She was the one most blatantly disobeying.

McHenry:: Your assembled about a dozen Police officers on the north side of the street?

JacobClark:: Yes

McHenry:: While still on the north side of the street, did you give the order to ‘arrest that women’?

JacobClark:: –  No, I went over with 3-4 volunteers to give her a warning.  She walked away and we arrested her.

McHenry:: No further questions.

Narrator:: Then the state called officer Susan Billard.

Prosecutor:: What happened on August 9, 2015?

Billard: I was driving North on 82nd at about 3 PM. My beat is East of 205, I just happen to be driving up 82nd. There was a crowd of protesters blocking the intersection at Division and traffic was heavy. I called it in.

Prosecutor:: What happened next?

Billard:: Sergeant Clark was the officer in charge.  He had us assemble on the North side of the street where we observed. When he called for volunteers to go across the street,  I volunteered.

Prosecutor:: What happened next?

Billard:: We went across and she was still standing in the street yelling and screaming and blocking a lane of traffic. We gave her several warnings. When she just walked away Sergeant Clark gave the order and I arrested her. I arrested her with Officer Miller.  We thought it would be nice if two female officers arrested her.

Prosecutor:: Did officer Clark give her one final warning before arresting her?

Billard:: Yes, if she moved onto the sidewalk she would not have been arrested.

Prosecutor:: No more questions.

Narrator:: And Mr Matthew McHenry cross examined Officer Billard

McHenry: You were the first officer on the scene that day?

Billard:: I was.

McHenry:: At that time about 100 protester were in the intersection?

Billard: Yes, about 100.

McHenry:: Did you speak with a police liaison from the group?  

Billard:: I did

McHenry:: And this was a white male about 5’6”

Billard:: About.

Billard:: And he told you they would be finished soon?

Billard:: Yes

McHenry: And he stayed in the street?

Billard::: Yes

McHenry: And you didn’t arrest him?

Billard::  I didn’t

McHenry:: And the protesters DID soon move out of the intersection?

Billard:: Yes

McHenry:: You told protesters that they were not allowed to block traffic again?

Billard::   I said they couldn’t be in street.

McHenry:: um, Can you check you report on that.

Billard:: umm…OK, I said they couldn’t block traffic

McHenry:: Did you see Ms Raiford blocking traffic?

Billard:: She was in the street

McHenry:: Was she stopping cars?

Billlard::  I don’t remember

McHenry:: Do you remember testifying yesterday that she was stopping cars?

Billard:: You tricked me. Defense attorneys like you alway try to get me in trouble.
McHenry:: Do you remember Teressa Raiford blocking cars?

Billard:: I wasn’t monitoring traffic

McHenry:: What did Clark tell you when you were still on the North side of the street?

Billard: He gave the order to follow him. Later on he said to arrest her.

McHenry:: When you cross the street you are focused on Teressa Raiford?

B::  I was

McHenry:: And the order was to ‘arrest women in black with bandanna’, not ‘arrest people in street’?

B:: It was

McHenry:: What happened after the arrest?

B:: She was resisting me and screaming at me, she was loud and angry.

McHenry:: You said she was fortunate to live in PDX where the police are professional?

B:: Yes

McHenry:: Then you told her that 90% of black people are killed by other black people?

B:: Yes

McHenry:: And that was professional?

B::  I was trying to start a conversation, build a relationship.

McHenry:: You reported that Teressa Raiford resisted you? –

B:: Yes, she lowered her shoulder and shoved me as she was getting into the car.

McHenry:: Did you see Teressa Raiford with the crowd in the middle of the intersection?

B:: No

McHenry:: So, the only time you saw traffic blocked was when there were 100 people in the intersection. Why didn’t arrest anyone then?

B::  There were too many of them.

McHenry: I have no more questions.

Narrator:: The prosecution’s redirect of Billard was brief.

Prosecutor:: Did you or Clark give Ms Raiford a final warning?

Billard: Yes, she walked away and we arrested her.


Narrator:: And with that the judge called the court adjourned.  

The next morning a juror reported that  she witnessed an altercation between police and an audience member. The judge called her into the courtroom to describe this interaction. .

Carson – On my way out of court yesterday I heard an audience member say ‘can a police officer be arrested for lying’. I was surprised that the officer answered. I had seen that Billard was part of the group of police and I assume it was her. I thought she should have been more professional.

Narrator:: Judge Greenlick asked if she could still be fair, to which she replied:

Carson::  Oh sure, I didn’t learn anything new. I saw all of that yesterday

Narrator: And the judge and lawyers all agreed to leave her on the jury.

Carson:: Then I’m still a juror on this case?

Narrator:: Next the prosecution called Kris Barber to the stand.  He is important because of his role in the only other arrest that day: that of activist Diane Chavez.

Prosecutor:: How long have you been with the force?

KrisBarber:: I’ve been with the force for,,18 years now,

Prosecutor:: What happened on August 9th?

KrisBarber::  On April 9, 2015 I heard Officer Billard’s call that there was a crowd blocking the intersection at 82nd and Division. I was in Lents and headed up.  Sergeant Clark was the officer in charge and had us meet in the PCC parking lot.

Prosecutor:: Then what happened?

KrisBarber:: We moved to the North side of the street and monitored for about 15 minutes. Most of the protester were off the street. Later on I approached Ms Chavez because she got back into the street.

Prosecutor:: What did you tell her to do?

KrisBarber:: I told her to get back on the sidewalk. When she didn’t get back she was arrested.

Prosecutor:: No more questions

Narrator:: Matthew McHenry cross examined Sergeant Kris Barber.

McHenry:: You have received training in how to testify?

KrisBarber:: Some

McHenry:: And you studied Psychology?

KrisBarber: Sure, back in school.

McHenry:: By the time you got to division and 82nd the intersection was clear?

KrisBarber:: True

McHenry::  You were observing from the North side and the activists were on the South side?

KB:: yes

McHenry: In your report it says that you saw a Black women step off the sidewalk?

KrisBarber:: Yes, I did.

McHenry:: At this time other people were in the street?

KrisBarber:: I  don’t know

McHenry:: Did you see Ms Raiford obstruct traffic?

KrisBarber:: yeah, I saw her stop a car.

McHenry:: How long did they have to to stop?

KrisBarber:: I didn’t monitor the time.

McHenry:: About how long?

KrisBarber:: I dont ‘ know

McHenry:: Was the car prevented from turning?

KrisBarber::  They sure weren’t going to turn with all that.

McHenry:: All that? All what?

KrisBarber:: …uh, well, HER.

McHenry:: Clark and 4 others arrested Chavez?  

KB:: Yes

McHenry:: Because everyone else was back on the sidewalk?

KB:: well, on MY side they were.

McHenry:: Ms Chavez is a white women?

KB:: um,  I guess.

McHenry:: She put a camera in your face, was warned no less than 4 times, she stays in your face and you do not arrest her?

KB:  True

McHenry:: She walks away from your and still there is no arrest?

KB::  True

McHenry:: Clark warns her again and STILL no arrest

KB:: True

McHenry:: No more questions.

Narrator:: And the prosecutor’s redirect:

Prosecutor::  How long was it before the first warning to Ms Chavez and her arrest? –

KrisBarber::  3, maybe 5 minutes.

Prosecutor:: No further questions.

Narrator:: and the State calls Officer Randy Miller. Officer Miller arrested Teressa Raiford along with officer Billard.

Prosecutor:: You got a call around 3pm on August 9th?

Miller:: Yes, Officer Billard called in that protesters were blocking an intersection.

Prosecutor:: When you arrived at 82nd and Division, was there a staging area?

Miller::  Yes, Sergeant Clark was in charge and he gave order to wait and observe from the North side of the street.

Prosecutor:: Then what happened:

Miller:: I volunteered to go across. Sergeant Clark told her to get back on the sidewalk. When she stayed in the street Officer Billard and I arrested her. Then she started screaming and yelling, other people were screaming and yelling. Officer Billard was trying to explain to her what was happening.

Prosecutor::  No more questions.

Narrator:: Mr McHenry cross examined Officer Miller

McHenry:: By the time you got there, people were out of the street?  

Miller:: Yes

McHenry: And you were observing the protesters, along with a dozen other officers, from the North side of the street?

Miller::  Yes

McHenry:: When Sergeant Clark called for volunteers, you stepped up?

Miller:: yes, sir.

McHenry:: And you volunteered to conduct the arrest?

Miller:: yes

McHenry:: You were instructed by Sergeant Clark before you cross the street to arrest the `women with the black shirt and bandanna`?

Miller:: Yes

McHenry:: And Officer Billard told you,  ‘that’s Teressa Raiford’?

Miller::  Yes

McHenry:: Most other protesters were white?  

Miller:: I don’t know

McHenry: You were not instructed to give Ms Raiford one more chance

Miller:: True

McHenry:: So, you are testifying that officer Clark ordered you to arrest Teressa Raiford while you were still on the North side of the street?

Miller:: well, if she didn’t move

McHenry:: Can your please check your report on that?

Miller::   ok, my orders were to, ‘arrest the women in the black shirt and bandana’

McHenry:: And you got this order from Sergeant Clark while still on the North side of the street?

Miller:: true

McHenry:: No more questions

Narrator:: and the redirect from the prosecutor.

Prosecutor:: Did YOU make the decision to arrest?

Miller:: No

Prosecutor:: If Sergeant Clark told you to stop would you still have made the arrested?  

Miller:: No, if she stepped on the sidewalk, she would not have been arrested.

Prosecutor: No more questions.

Narrator: And with that the state rested.  The defense called several witnesses who were present during the events of August 9, 2015 to establish that Ms Raiford was not doing anything different from several other protesters.

On the final day of the trial, Ms Raiford wore that Black shirt and headband as she she took the stand in her own defense.

Take stand; background; texas; back to pdx;  nephew shot
BLM, first protest
Don’t shoot PDX, anti police,
Previous interactions with police
Aug 9 Mike Brown
Aug 9 civil disobedience planned? Impromptu panel, move outside  
Everyone went into intersection (waited for white man)
Lead chant Shut shit down?
After 4 1/2 mintues?
See the officers coming
Why were you arrested

The jury took three hour to reach their decision.  White Man Said Walk concludes with court audio of the verdict.

Dr. Al Frankowski, Northeastern Illinois University, “Race Realism and a Political Sense of Mourning”

I went to my first Philosophy lunch seminar at Reed today and I liked it. I’ve been investigating the idea if ‘Race’ with an audio piece I’m working on for KBOO. The talk had the word ‘Race’ in the title so I was finally motivated to go. It poured rain as I ran in on my green Prefontaine jacket and I entered wet as a dog. They had good hot coffee, roasted- asparagus, squash, red peppers and I love this kind professorial life.

As far as I understood it, Dr Frankowski was interested in exploring two extremes: that we live in a post racial world and that the United States will always be racist against Black people. Some claim that a Black president proves a post racial America. If ‘racial’ is measured as the sum of individual reality based on perceived race, then the proposition that we will always have racism is more tenable.

I hope to interview Dr Frankowski if I ever get that ‘perceived race’ audio worked up and I love ping pong.

East Side democratic Club Minutes March 1, 2016

Prior to the meeting the nominating committee nominated this slate of candidates:

President: David Delk
Vice president: Herschel Soles
Secretary: Joe Meyer
Membership Coordinator: Steve Elder
Treasurer: Celeste Soles
Agenda committee: Pam Allee, Maxine Wilkins

And we all won 21 – 0 !

There were two cameras at the meeting and Tom wanted to know what people thought about that.
David asked if there were any objections to the filming.
There was some discussion and we voted to vote on allowing filming and then voted to allow filming with both passing everyone to 0.

There were a few announcements including a recommendation of Micheal Moore’s new movie and of Beyond Measure, another education film, playing at Revolution Hall, and the you can get into Michel Moore’s film for $8.50 with some kind of ID.

Then we watched a forty minute documentary called “Building the Machine” describing the corporate takeover of our public schools

Then we took a 10 minute break and ate pizza and chatted.

When we reconvened, David announced that he will invite city hall candidates to next month’s meeting and then he passed the basket.

This was followed by a panel of three discussing their perspectives: Dana Brenner-Kelly, Mother; Michael Sonnleitner, Portland Community College Board Member, and Hyung Nam, high school teacher.

Each panel member was given a 5 minute introduction.

HN asked us to consider the larger context of economics, politics and corporate power. He argued that corporate power sees education as a threat and quoted a Powell memo citing unrest on campuses.

DBK told of how much things have changed in the time her oldest of 3 and youngest started grade school. She argued that the Common Core standards push a lot of responsibilities down to the very early grades; that behavioral data collection starts at this early age; and that this leads to a very early forking into the K-prison pipeline.

MS told us that he was like a toad in a pot of water on the stove. He first started to feel warm when corporate had him set seemingly harmless goals for himself and to simply check little boxed when he achieved his target performance. Three years ago, his pot grew too hot when corporate announced a new mandate to streamline the process and not to dumb it down. And students are complaining that essay questions are too hard, can’t you offer multiple choice and not dumb it down? And can’t you pass a higher percentage of students and not dumb it down?

Each panel member went well over the allotted 5 minutes and audience whistling was only heard once.

The first audience question was about how the new educators are trained. The panel responded that they are taught a narrow focus and prescriptive teaching. That they are union busing and setting us up for failure. BDK spoke of canned curricula and gave the example of teachers learning lessons by rote.

The second audience question was decrying for profit colleges and we ran out of time.

In closing Pat asked everyone to keep an eye on HB 2713 and someone said she is running for house district 44, Tina Kotek incumbent.

Then we adjourned.

Introducing pythonic access to data

PyQL stands for the Pythonic Query Language. It can be used everywhere SQL is used. The PyQL is handy in that you ‘have Python’ at the query prompt.

There are plenty of rules for getting UpperCase in SQL and, if you know some Python name.upper() is handy. Likewise with imported modules like re and math. Basically, if you like Python and or appreciate the pythonic approach then you will like PyQL.

The PyQL does not concern itself with maintaining databases, only access to the data. That is, the PyQL does not have anything corresponding to SQL’s CREATE, UPDATE, and INSERT. So narrow is the PyQL’s focus that a single invented symbol suffices: @.

PyQL is also a domain specific query language (DSQL) engine. General query languages, like SQL, know little of the user’s intent and are thereby rendered verbose. Domain specific query languages use expert knowledge to craft agile access to data.

The basic premise of PyQL is that every database deserves its own query language. Have look at: