Eugene residents to rally against Eugene Police Department drug arrest
Eugene residents are organizing a rally at the 7 p.m. city council meeting today regarding an arrest Eugene Police Department made in the downtown Park Blocks on Friday.
The Facebook page, “Speak Out Against Police Brutality,” says the group will rally before the meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza, where the group will present concerns to city councilors.
“Eugene is no stranger to seeing the police department taking their monopoly on legitimized violence to an [unacceptable] level,” the Facebook statement says. “In a video making the rounds of an incident on [Friday] afternoon We see yet another [unacceptable] action committed against an unarmed man by Eugene Police Officers.”
One of the organizers, Shanalea Forrest, said she hoped the rally will allow residents a place to discuss the arrest.
“We have concerns that procedure policy was violated,” Forrest said. “We want to keep the dialogue open.”
A video of the arrest was posted on Facebook Friday afternoon and quickly became viral. As of Monday afternoon, it has been viewed 122,226 times and shared 1,728 times on Facebook. The video is graphic and contains vulgar language.
The 8-minute video shows three EPD officers trying to detain Jeffery Don Walton. Walton appeared to fail to comply with police’s orders. As he was resisting the arrest, the police appeared to strike his hand, punch him multiple times and use a Taser and pepper spray on him before ultimately pinning him to ground.
When an onlooker asked the reason of Walton’s arrest, police said it was for “safety reasons.”
EPD Police Chief Pete Kerns released a statement on Oct. 22 saying the crowd’s interference was “perilous” on top of the “already dangerous arrest.”
“Eugene’s police officers remained composed and professional in stark contrast to the aggressive and unruly behavior of the mob. What we observed is not in keeping with the respectful and coherent discourse that defines Eugene’s culture, or with the environment that we are fostering in our downtown,” Kerns’ statement states.
Forrest said at times she has encountered with police in Eugene, she felt like law enforcement didn’t act “from a place of understanding and care.”
“People should feel safe in their community,” Forrest said.
According to the Register-Guard, Police Auditor Mark Gissiner said Monday his office is reviewing the incident as well as the body cameras’ video from officers at the scene.
Walton was ultimately taken into custody on a misdemeanor for “interfering with police officer.”
The story was updated at 4:50 p.m. to reflect Shanalea Forrest’s comment.
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