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West Linn will hold an online open forum with the man racially-targeted by WLPD in 2017 arrest

PMG FILE PHOTO - The West Linn City Council will host a virtual open forum with Michael Fesser Wednesday, July 8.The West Linn City Council will hold a virtual community meeting with Michael Fesser Wednesday, July 8.

After the city's insurance provider paid a $600,000 settlement to Fesser — a Portland man who was the victim of a racist investigation by the West Linn Police Department — earlier this year, he said he wanted to continue conversations with city leaders about how to make West Linn a more tolerant place.

In 2017, WLPD officers left their jurisdiction to arrest him as he left work in Portland, held him without cause, took his belongings without following policy and later informed him he was fired from his job at a southeast Portland towing company.

The officers illegally investigated him at the request of his boss, West Linn resident Eric Benson, who feared Fesser was going to fire a racial discrimination lawsuit against the towing company after he complained of his co-workers using racial slurs and taunting him with a Confederate flag.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Michael Fesser attended a June Black Lives Matter rally in West Linn.Fesser recently attended a Black Lives Matter protest in West Linn and spoke about his experience with the town.

"This is the place that brought pain and hurt to my family, friends and loved ones," he said. "I understand that we're in a better place today. I could not say this a few weeks ago because this community and some of the higher ups have been telling nothing but lies."

After news of the city's settlement payment plunged West Linn into a nationwide scandal in February, councilors promised to have regular meetings with Fesser, who said he'd like to build bridges in West Linn to fight discrimination. The July 8 meeting will be the first such meeting, besides an initial meeting with Mayor Russ Axelrod, Interim City Manager John Williams, Police Chief Terry Kruger (who is now on leave) and Captains Oddis Rollins and Peter Mahuna (now acting as chief). Councilors said the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult to arrange a meeting with Fesser.


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