The Portland State University Student Union held a memorial show on June 28 commemorating the one year anniversary of the death of Jason Washington.
The show was held at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art. Admission was donation based, with all proceeds going towards PSUSU. A portion of the proceeds was used to purchase a gift for the Washington family.
Five local bands—James Curry Ⅳ, Halloway, Regular Debbies, Voodoo Dollz, Completely Detached, and Way Worse—played over the afternoon and into the evening while PSU students and community members mingled and paid respects.
Members of PSUSU and Disarm PSU activists were selling Disarm buttons, t-shirts and tote bags at the door, as well as handing out pamphlets explaining the goals of PSUSU and the Disarm campaign. A poster of Washinigton was posted on a pillar in the center of the room which read “Rest in Power!”
Washington was fatally shot by Campus Public Safety officers on June 29 of last year. His death—the first fatal shooting involving CPSO—further ignited the already existent Disarm PSU campaign, which has been pushing for the disarmament of campus security officers since they began carrying firearms in 2014.
Members of PSUSU and Disarm PSU were expecting the PSU Board of Trustees to reach a decision about campus public safety and the armament of CPSO officers at a Board meeting on June 20, but the issue was delayed.
According to Interim President Stephen Percy, a decision will be made in the fall following an intensive review of all the information CPSO accumulated over the past year.
Members of PSUSU expressed feelings of hope and frustration over the course of the memorial show. Mason Yadira, a member of PSUSU, Disarm PSU and the band Regular Debbies—who performed for the memorial—said they are “very hopeful” that the Board will choose to disarm in the fall. “[PSUSU is] trying to lean toward being more hopeful than negative.”
Speaking about the new Board members that will be joining the Board next fall, Yadira said, “We’re not sure how that will play out, but we do know there’s at least a couple of Board members who are in support of Disarm [PSU] and are pushing for it.”
“I know [Stephen] Percy wants to meet with us. We’re not sure where he stands.”
Washington was shot outside of the Cheerful Tortoise, a bar near campus, while attempting to break up a fight. He was carrying a firearm with a conceal and carry permit. The firearm was confiscated by Washington from a man involved in the argument.
Police body camera footage shows Campus Public Safety Officers ordering Washington to drop his firearm amid the altercation before open firing. He was shot nine times. It is unclear whether or not he was holding the firearm.
The Washington family announced in June they are planning to sue the university. The officers involved in the shooting, James Dewey and Shawn Mckenzie, were not charged with any criminal wrongdoing.