Local leaders aim to be ‘catalyst for change’ with Reimagine Oregon

Civic Affairs

The first briefing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — People have taken to Portland’s streets for months now, demanding change. In response, the Reimagine Oregon Project formed, led by a group of Black community leaders and activists who are working with government officials to make that change happen.

Leaders of the project have been meeting with state lawmakers and local-level governments in the metro area to develop a plan to dismantle systemic racism in Oregon. Ideas include a $2.5 million fund to rethink what public safety would look like.

“When the public comes to us and says we want you to focus on this and we’re going to hold you accountable, it’s something that we, as government-elected officials, need to take very seriously,” said Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury.

Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury speaks to KOIN 6 News via Zoom. October 18, 2020 (KOIN)

Multnomah County is one of several jurisdictions in Oregon that have committed to advancing equity and justice in their communities.

“So, each jurisdiction has areas that they’re focused on and we know that this is not going to be overnight change—there’s so much work to be done and a lot of it is going to be very tough,” said Kafoury.

She said they’re working to make changes in several areas, such as housing, mental health programs, community safety, and the criminal justice system.

“We’re trying to transform our criminal legal system into one that is equitable, restorative, and responsive,” said Kafoury.

She said they want this process to be transparent and include more input from the public. So, over the next several weeks, the Board of County Commissioners will be holding a series of briefings about different public safety topics, including how the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office does officer training in the jails.

“Well, we hope that we can be a catalyst for change and that by showing other jurisdictions what we’re working on and how we’re being transparent with the public, we hope that they’ll follow suit,” said Kafoury.

Kafoury said they plan to use the information from the briefings to help shape future policy areas and budget decisions. Kafoury also said she welcomes feedback on this process and people are welcome to send their thoughts to her email: mult.chair@multco.us.

The first briefing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday, October 20. Members of the public can watch that meeting live online here. More information can be found online here.

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