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Ron Herndon, co-leader of Portland’s Black United Front, joins Jesse Jackson on an anti-drug march in Northeast Portland during a May campaign stop in Jackson’s unsuccessful bid for the presidency. Michael Lloyd/The Oregonian

In the 1970s, state and national politicians began to shift the thinking on crime. President Richard Nixon began to help militarize police in response to the drug trade and pushed for laws with harsh sentences for the possession and sale of illegal drugs.

In Oregon, the harsh and mandatory minimum sentences began to disproportionately affect people in lower income brackets, particularly people of color. By 1980, for example, African Americans made up 22% of those arrested in Multnomah County despite representing only 4% of the population.