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Eugene Vigil Remembers People Killed By Police Officers In Oregon

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Melorie Begay/KLCC News
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Several families of people killed by police officers in Oregon gathered yesterday in Eugene for a vigil. The event was hosted at Alton Baker Park by Pacific Northwest Family Circle and Stephanie Babb.

Babb is the sister of Army veteran Brian Babb who was shot and killed by a Eugene Police Department officer in 2015. She said she and other relatives support the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

“Because we know how this affects people and how disproportionately Indigenous and Black people are getting killed by police," Babb told KLCC. "Somebody that looks like me, a middle aged white woman, saying my brother who was a veteran and he was in his own home get shot.  We need those people who aren’t thinking it will concern them, to wake up.”

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Credit Melorie Begay/KLCC News
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A banner including people who've been killed by police officers in Oregon was on display during the Aug. 29 vigil.

Babb has advocated against qualified immunity and police militarization since her brother’s death five years ago. Her family recently lost a $7.5 million wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Eugene and the Eugene Police Department in February.

At the vigil she said officers need to be deterred from shooting suspects. A few examples she gave were having officers involved in shootings be given mandatory desk duty for six months, be required to take a drug test, and give family impact statements.

"We have to have something in place that will deter their freedom to kill people whenever they want to," Babb said. 

Babb also brought up Whitebird CAHOOT's and the national attention it's garnered recently. While she commended their training and skills, she said the service needs more separation from EPD.

"I believe if [CAHOOTs] had been given an opportunity to talk to my brother, my brother would still be here and that's what upsets me is that the police are still in-between that ability for them to do what they know how to do," Babb said. She suggested CAHOOTs have a separate emergency phone line and less police oversight. 

The families of Jesse Powell, Stacey Kenny, and Eliborio Rodrigues were also present during the vigil. Powell was shot and killed by a Deschutes County Sheriff's Deputy on June 20, 2018, Kenny was shot and killed by a Springfield Police Officer on March 31, 2019, and Rodrigues was shot and killed by a Eugene Police Officer on Nov. 30, 2019.

Copyright 2020 KLCC

Melorie Begay is a multimedia journalist for KLCC News. She was the Inaugural KLCC Public Radio Foundation Journalism Fellow. She has a bachelors in Multimedia Journalism from the University of New Mexico. She previously interned at KUNM public radio in Albuquerque, NM and served as a fellow for the online news publication New Mexico In Depth.