SALEM, Ore. — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Friday announced a Racial Justice Council will be put together to focus on police accountability, criminal justice reform and environmental, health and housing inequity in the state.
The council members will come from diverse backgrounds, with most coming from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) communities, according to to governor's office. They'll work to dismantle systemic racism and they'll help inform the governor's recommendations for the 2021-23 budget.
“The urgency could not be greater to center the voices of those who are most impacted by historical and institutional racism in Oregon and create a better system, together, that fully supports us all," Brown said. "Our budgets, policy agenda, and priorities should reflect, support, and honor the communities who have been most deeply impacted by systemic racism.”
The announcement comes in the wake of more than two months of protests nationwide, including high-profile nightly standoffs in Portland, to end police brutality and racist policies.
Members of the initial iteration of the council include Kayse Jama of Unite Oregon, Coquille Tribe council member Don Ivy and executive director Reyna Lopez of PCUN (Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste)
"Our communities have waited a long time to ensure people of color, immigrants and refugees, and rural voices are reflected in budgets and policy priorities," Jama said. "We have a lot of work to do right away, and I am excited for the opportunity.”
The governor's office said the council will recommend changes to state policies, practices, and budgets, speak directly with community leaders and bring their feedback to the council, and identify potential collaborations among the state and community stakeholders.
“This council is a signal to Oregonians that our state is listening to the cries of our BIPOC siblings,” Lopez said. “I am honored to accept this position, and commit to bringing my personal experience as a first generation, Latinx Oregonian—daughter of immigrant agricultural workers—to make our state a better place for BIPOC communities everywhere."