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A man is chased by police in Irving Park in 1967.
Credit: Oregon Historical Society

The distrustful relationship between the Portland Police and the Black community grew increasingly tense in the 1960s and 70s. Black youth had grown agitated by the police presence in the Albina neighborhood. This mounting tension coupled with the rhetoric of the Black Power movement inspired action and anger.

Tensions exposed by groups such as CORE, SNCC, and the Black Panthers and disturbances such as the Albina Riots made plain the division between the white establishment and the Black community.

The police asserted their need to suppress disorder and crime in minority neighborhoods, while the Black community advocated for less police brutality, more oversight of the force, and representation in police ranks.

In the summer of 1967, race riots exploded in Albina, the heart of Portland’s African American community, along NE Union Avenue (now Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard). White establishment and African American accounts of the riot’s causes and events differed widely. City leaders and the police attributed the riots to “outside agitators” and lawless militants. Many Blacks pointed to police incitement and the harassment of young Blacks.