A man is suing the Portland Police Bureau after he said officers ignored his report on a possible hate crime.
Chuck Crockett, who is black, said he reported the crime to the North Portland Precinct on March 15, a couple days after the incident took place. He said the tepid response from police officers made him feel like his trauma did not matter.
According to Crockett, on March 13, he was driving in Northeast Portland when he encountered a car that was driving well below the speed limit. He honked his horn and the car proceeded to go even slower. Crockett said he eventually went around the car and it tried to hit him. At the intersection of NE 92nd Place and E Burnside Street, Crockett said he took a left and the car followed him. Crockett said he eventually pulled over and when he got out of the car, a white man approached him and asked, “N——-, you want some?”
Crockett said he told the man it was not necessary to use the epithet. The man proceeded to rush toward Crockett and repeated himself. Crockett said he told the man to stop, but the man continued yelling and using racial slurs. Crockett told the man he was going to get his phone and record the incident. The man then allegedly ran back to his car and drove off, but not before Crockett got a photo of the car’s license plate.
Crockett said he went to the North Portland Police Precinct to report the incident. He asked the clerk at the front desk if there was an officer available to write a report. The clerk told him to file a complaint through the non-emergency line because no officers were available to help him. Crockett said he told the clerk that it was an emergency because there was someone trying to harm him and possibly other black people. Crockett said the two went back and forth and the conversation escalated to shouting, yet none of the officers around intervened or came to take a report. Crockett exited the station, stopping a white officer on the way out asking if he was busy. The officer allegedly said he was available to assist Crockett.
“I specifically asked him, ‘Hey, I’m trying to file a hate crime report. Can you take my hate crime report?’ And he literally was like, ‘Oh no, I’m not doing that. I’m busy. I got to go,’” Crockett said.
Crockett said he asked several officers outside of the precinct for help before approaching a black officer in a squad car. He said that officer agreed to help.
Crockett said he is filing the lawsuit because “there’s no reason a black person is inside of a whole police precinct and they’re ignoring his hate crime. You know, trying to report a hate crime or to report a crime in any way, shape or form and I’m getting completely ignored. And then, I have to go find black officer.”
Oregon lawmakers passed a bill this spring to create better systems to report hate crimes and assist victims.
In his complaint, Crockett is asking that PPB set up a unit dedicated to better working with the city’s black population.
“Because it’s clear that the officer, the white officers and all the other officers really don’t care about black people,” Crockett said, based on his experience.
Crockett is suing the city for more than $150,000 in damages. He said that money is not the issue in this case and has offered to settle for $75,000.
“I’m more worried about setting up the government agencies and getting those services provided,” Crockett said. “It’s more about making sure that it doesn’t happen again, that people are safe.”
Someone from the Portland city attorney’s office was not immediately available for comment Friday, and Portland Police said they could not comment on pending litigation.
Sharing America: A Public Radio Collaboration
Erica Morrison is part of the public radio collaborative “Sharing America,” covering the intersection of race, identity and culture. This new initiative, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, includes reporters in the Northwest and Hartford, Connecticut, St. Louis and Kansas City. You can find more “Sharing America” coverage here.