PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It has been more than six months since Michael Fesser, a Black man who was targeted and falsely arrested by police, reached a $600,000 settlement with the City of West Linn. On Monday night, he spoke to a group of citizens who share concerns about police reform and accountability.
The Concerned Citizens of West Linn, a non-partisan, community-led group, put together three panels to talk about police reform, but some are concerned that changes are not happening fast enough.
“We have a bad history that we have no been able to overcome,” said Traciee Thomas, a West Linn resident.
Those citizens collectively put together a list of recommendations, which you can read in full at the bottom of this article.
“Calling for greater accountability through the use of independent organizations to investigate all significant misconduct allegations against police,” said Kathy Selvaggio of the Concerned Citizens of West Linn.
During the Monday night meeting, elected officials and community members discussed what they would like to see.
“The only way for us to have transparency is actually having a stringent oversight committee,” said Thomas.
The citizen-led group came together after Fesser’s story came to light. He was the target of a false arrest and investigation by West Linn police in 2017. Ultimately, he won a lawsuit against the city earlier this year. Since then, he said nothing has really changed.
“It’s ridiculous, and something has to be done now, before we have another situation—or even worse,” said Fesser. “That’s all I really have to say. And I am frustrated with West Linn, period.”
“After me, going back to try to help them, and help myself, family, and people with healing, they’ve just done nothing,” Fesser said. “I’ve lost faith in the whole city.”
In June of this year, the West Linn City Council put together a task force, which is now made up of 15 members, to come up with recommendations and to create an oversight entity for the West Linn Police Department.
“For me, my support would be you need people of color on this committee that’s dealing with this situation. But don’t just get them on the committee—the committee, their words, their voices have to be heard,” said Fesser.
The last task force meeting was Wednesday, Oct. 21. They meet every two weeks.
West Linn Police was not invited to Monday night’s panel, but the department said they look forward to working with all citizen groups.
Read the full release from the Concerned Citizens of West Linn: