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CNBSeen Press Release

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PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
April 13, 2021

Contact:
Don Merrill
503-927-0030
cnbseenpdx@gmail.com

TAILIGHT EVENT ATTEMPTS TO ADDRESS RACIAL INEQUITIES

PORTLAND – CNBSeen, a non profit with the mission to replace tailights in cars for social justice and public safety, will hold its first event on Saturday, April 24, 2021 in downtown Portland.
The non profit was started by local journalist Don Merrill after the killing of Philando Castile by Minneapolis police in 2016.

“I was working on another big project,” said Merrill, “and saw that I couldn’t give proper attention to both of them. So I put CNBSeen on hold.” Merrill finished the other project in early 2020. After the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police months later, he relaunched CNBSeen.

Merrill said Castile’s killing made him realize the number of people of color in general and black people in particular who are killed by the police after routine traffic stops, many of which involve a burnt out tailight. By September 2020, he had been invited as a guest speaker by a several of Portland’s seven neighborhood coalitions and at the time, had received broad support and promises of cooperation. By partnering with Portland neighborhood associations and auto parts stores, he hoped to bring similar events to many of Portland’s 95 neighborhoods beginning in January 2021. Numerous organizations around the country have hosted tailight clinics, including the “Gimme a Break (Light)” program in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The violence in Portland’s downtown in recent months however, along with the over taxing of police resources, has made some of those neighborhoods pull back and view the idea more cautiously. “I understand why they are hesitant. I think they feel like they’re trying to figure out how to keep their own neighborhoods afloat, and something like this might seem a little too esoteric right now,” he said.

But Merrill points to the recent shootings of Jenoah D. Donald across the river in Vancouver, Washington, Duarte Wright in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the near shooting of Army First Lieutenant Caron Nazario in Windsor, Virginia as the lastest examples of how a traffic stop can have bad outcomes. “A burnt out tailight shouldn’t be an extrajudicial death sentence,” he said. “In this moment of racial reckoning, … and we don’t know how long it will last, I wanted to do something.”

CNBSeen plans to focus on those neighborhoods with a higher number of police stops than the overall city average, according to the most recent Stops Collection Data (SDC) report from the Portland Police Bureau. The SDC shows stops by precinct conducted by both the Portland patrol and traffic divisions. The quarterly report consistently shows that black drivers are stopped much higher numbers across Portland than white drivers. Although events in specific neighborhoods are targeted at people of color in those neighborhoods in the interest of social justice, Merrill said that in the interest of public safety, the event is also open to anyone needing a bulb replaced. “If we don’t have a bulb, the driver could gets a rain check and can get a bulb at a later event.”

The event will take place at the Parking NW lot, 417 NW Couch in downtown Portland between 12 and 5 p.m. Merril thanks owner Al Niknabard and Guardian Parking Management Services for donating a portion of the lot for the event. Everett Street Autoworks will provide bulbs and staff to change bulbs. Covid-19 protocols will be in place meaning drivers need not leave their vehicles or have any physical contact with event organizers. The Old Town Community Association plans on including members of the Public Safety Action Coalition (PSAC) and invitations have been extended to Portland City Council and other elected representatives to support this community initiative. And, members of the Inter-Faith Peace & Action Collaborative (IPAC) will be at the event to support restorative justice, discuss ways to reduce forms of violence and crime, and promote community healing and relations.

“We want this to be a community building event,” said Tiffany Hammer, a co-president of PSAC. “The neighborhoods of the Old Town Community Association are vibrant and events like this show the community we have hope in what can be.” “I want this event,” says Merrill, “to encourage other communities to renew their shared vision with CNBSeen to conduct their own tailight events.”

Those interested in helping CNBSeen, a 501c3 non profit organization, continue its work may donate to its GoFundMe at https://bit.ly/3wNI0NO. People are under no obligation to give, “but contributions will certainly be appreciated,” Merrill said.

“It’s not this huge thing. It just this little thing I think I can do, like throwing starfish,” said Merrill.

To learn more about CNBSeen and the April 24th event, visit CNBSeen’s website, http://www.cnb-seen.org. There visitors can find links to its evolving Terms and Conditions and upcoming events.

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PSAC is a grassroots organization with its primary goals being to help educate, inform, and inspire the general public to become involved in their public safety system and help promote respectful and effective public safety advocacy to elected officials and government agency leadership.

CNBSeen’s mission is to replace burnt out lights on cars in the service of social justice and public safety.

IPAC is a united group of faith leaders, activists, social workers, police officers and community members. We came together beginning in July 2016 to address the crisis of violence on Portland streets, specifically, violence impacting communities of color.

Written by Interviewer

April 11, 2021 at 08:59

Posted in Scratchpad