The family of a man shot and killed by Portland State University Police in June has removed a temporary memorial near a campus dorm at the request of the university.
The family says the university gave them until Friday night to remove photos and American flags pinned to a gate attached to the university’s Broadway Dorm where the family says Jason Washington was shot and killed.
In an emailed statement, PSU President Rahmat Shoureshi said the university is required to treat all forms of speech equally, and that it must remain neutral in how it responds to public displays like memorials and hateful messages.
“Temporary memorials are important as a way for the community to express itself,” Shoureshi said in the statement. “The memorial to Jason Washington is heartfelt. At the same time, temporary public memorials represent expressions of free speech and the law requires that what is done for one such expression must be done for all.”
The family has become the face of renewed efforts to get the university to disarm its campus officers and said they’re skeptical of the university’s motivations behind their request to remove the memorial.
“We believe PSU is forcing us to take it down so that incoming students and others in our community won’t be reminded of what has happened here,” said Kayla Washington, Jason Washington’s daughter.
“My dad — a black man, a veteran, a peacemaker — was killed because PSU made a horrific decision to legally arm their security.”
The family wants a permanent memorial on campus and said they’ve been in communication with the university about such efforts. Shoureshi said the university plans to prepare photographic memory books of the memorial at the request of the family.
“We would like to see a permanent memorial so that people don’t forget what happened, you know?” said Michelle Washington, Jason’s wife. “It was inexcusable and I don’t want it to be erased like they want to erase it.”
Both officers involved were placed on paid administrative leave. The Washington family has also called on the university to fire the two officers involved. The university’s board of trustees cast a controversial vote in 2014 to employ sworn armed police officers.
Multiple agencies, including the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office and the Portland Police Bureau Homicide Detail, are conducting an investigation into the incident. In the last five Portland Police Bureau officer-involved shootings, grand jury decisions typically came out within four to six weeks after a shooting.
It’s been eight weeks since Washington’s death.
“While we are here to remove this memorial, our work has just begun,” Kayla Washington said Friday. “We will not forget how my father was killed and we will not stop until justice is served.”