The Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation expressly condemns the Eugene Police Department for shooting a community member on November 30, 2020.
By their own admission, Eugene Police Department (EPD) officers shot and sent a man to the hospital with life-threatening injuries early on Monday, Nov 30. Eyewitness statements have reported that anywhere from 8-10 shots were fired, even though Chief Skinner is only admitting to the unidentified person being shot twice. At this time, the officers have only been placed on an administrative leave, which we do not find to be a sufficient addressing of the situation.
EPD presents an unnecessary and persistent trauma for marginalized community members living in Eugene. Between the housing sweeps in the midst of a pandemic, arrests of protestors which almost never includes arresting armed, right-wing counter-protesters, and now the shooting of a man on the one-year anniversary of Eliborio Rodrigues Jr.’s murder at the hands of EPD, it is clear that EPD serves as an arm to protect certain classes of people while targeting the most vulnerable. Notably, Eliborio was a man of color and the person shot yesterday is also reported to be a man of color; in a city that is predominantly populated and policed by white people, people of color continue to face the brunt of police violence and targeting.
In response to this heinous crime, we call on Chief Skinner to begin disarmament of the EPD at once, beginning with the immediate removal of all lethal weapons. We also call on EPD to release the footage from the body-worn cameras of the officers involved, the in-car video, and the third-party video, to provide accountability for officer actions. With their consent, releasing the name of the survivor of this police brutalization would also give the community space to organize in support and at the direction of their friends and family.
We additionally call upon City Manager Sarah Medary, Mayor Lucy Vinis, and all City Councilors to expressly and unequivocally condemn police violence and the use of excessive force. Furthermore, a city council session must be called before the end of the calendar year that is expressly dedicated to addressing this crime, listening to comments from the community about the state of policing in Eugene, and implementing community suggested and supported measures.
In the coming weeks, the media outlets, the city and municipal government, and the Eugene Police Department will justify their actions by criminalizing a person of color in our community. We cannot let this occur without rebuke. It is our duty to think more critically about the systems of domination and exploitation that feed the carceral state and to push back against the inappropriate justification of systemic violence in the name of “public safety.” Ultimately, we must strive to imagine and organize around community solidarity rather than reproducing the same institutions which have oppressed us.