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Eugene Addresses Police Profiling

Eugene-PoliceBy Jessica Debbas

EUGENE, Ore. — Overnight chaos escalated on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri.

The city continues to be the scene of nightly protests after the death of a teenager, Michael Brown. The unarmed 18-year-old was killed by police during a confrontation Saturday, and the arrests of protesters and several journalists is only fueling the fiery protests.

The situation in Ferguson hits close to home for some local leaders, on the same day they’re talking about biased-based policing in Eugene.

“It’s a very divided city. It’s one of the blackest cities that we have,” said Eric Richardson, president of the Eugene-Springfield NAACP.

As Richardson prepares to speak about racial profiling in Eugene, he’s also following the chaos unfolding near his hometown of St. Louis, following the death of an unarmed black teenager fatally shot by an officer.

“It’s interesting to see a city with 21,000 residents who are mostly African American with a police department that only has three people on the department,” Richardson said.

“We want to make sure we prevent anything like that from happening here, but it all starts with having a good sound policy,” said Juan Carlos Valle, LULAC.

Valle will represent LULAC Thursday night. He’s pushing for a policy prohibiting police profiling in Eugene.

“We have to bring us closer to the police department. This police is my police. They are out there to protect me, but unfortunately many people like me don’t believe that’s true,” Valle said.

The Eugene Police Department is currently working to implement a pilot project in January, an initiative to fight racial profiling. During a traffic stop, officers would collect information including sex, race and ethnicity. That data would then be collected and analyzed. But Valle says the process needs more clarification.

“Are they going to allow outsiders to look at the raw data? Who is going to analyze it? Are they going to publish the data? And most importantly what are they going to do?” Valle said.

Those are the questions that will be asked Thursday night, with the intent to make sure that what’s happening in Missouri never happens here, and in order to create a policy that reflects the voices of the community.

“Their understanding of the racial pressures and what’s going on in the community is very important. Not only understanding but having compassion for it and working with it as well,” Richardson said.

That meeting started at the Eugene Downtown Public Library at 5:30 p.m., but it is scheduled to last until 6:45 p.m. This is just a discussion. The police chief is scheduled to be there along with some city councilors.

CNN contributed to this report.