Community leaders call for criminal justice reform in Southern Oregon

Recently elected city council member in Ashland, Gina DuQuenne says she will be working directly with the Ashland Police Department.

Posted: Dec 4, 2020 7:34 PM
Updated: Dec 7, 2020 9:31 AM

ASHLAND, Ore. -- Recently elected city council member in Ashland, Gina DuQuenne says for too long bias has gone unrecognized in Southern Oregon.

After the death of Aidan Ellison, DuQuenne said she looks forward to working with Ashland Police Chief, Tighe O'Meara, for the next four years and beyond to solve criminal justice issues in the city.

“I would really like to be able to see all of us come together, put together policies, ordinances that will protect us," DuQuenne said. "And like I said, hold people accountable because in my opinion before that accountability is there, then we're just spinning our wheels and running in circles.”

Following the George Floyd protests nationwide, DuQuenne saw momentum for Black Lives Matter pick up, but soon after slow down.

She said, she wants people to take this loss of life and carry it for those who could lose their lives in the same way in the future.

“Aidan had to leave here early, so that light can be shone on this systemic generational racism that we still have,” DuQuenne said.

She won her city council position by pulling in 71 percent of votes while being an active player in the Black Lives Matter movement that the Southern Oregon Black Leaders, Activists, and Community Coalition (SOBLACC) has created locally. SOBLACC has spoken up about the death of Ellison and lack of Black history education in Jackson County since that fateful day last week.

“In this current political climate of the us and Oregon there can no longer be policies or assumptions that race, racism, sexual orientation or gender are not at play," said Precious Edmonds, spokesperson for the coalition. "We know unequivocally bias and racism exist and are played out every day.”

According to the World Population Review, Black people make up only 1.43 percent of the population in Ashland. SOBLACC describes losing a black life in a community where there is such a stark population divide as an outrage.

D.L. Richardson is a member of Oregon's council of trust, conducted by Oregon's Black leaders. He is also the Equity Specialist for federal programs and school improvement in the Medford School District. He has plans to facilitate a discussion with students about the gravity of Ellison's case.

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