PORTLAND, Ore. — Gov. Kate Brown issued an official proclamation on Thursday declaring June 19 "Juneteenth," commemorating the end of slavery and celebrating Black American freedom, and announced plans to make the day a state holiday.
“This year, celebrating Black freedom and achievement on Juneteenth is more important than ever as people across Oregon, the United States, and around the world protest systemic racism and unequivocally show that Black Lives Matter," said Governor Brown. "I am proud to officially proclaim June 19 as Juneteenth in Oregon, and I will introduce a bill in the 2021 session to make Juneteenth a state holiday for years to come."
Juneteenth stems from the emancipation of black American slaves in the South. Though the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1862, the Civil War did not end until April 1865 — and Union troops did not arrive in Texas until June. The order to emancipate all slaves in the state was read on June 19.
The date later gave rise to an annual celebration, becoming a state holiday in Texas during the late 1970s. Most states now recognize Juneteenth as a day of observance of some kind, and a state holiday in some cases.
Brown said that she would also create a task force aimed at reviewing statewide law enforcement training, standards, and accountability. That task force will be chaired by the Governor's Public Safety Policy Advisor, Constantin Severe, but other members are still forthcoming.
“I know this is a small, yet important step," Brown continued. "I encourage all Oregonians to join me in observing Juneteenth by getting educated on systemic racism in this country and getting involved in the fight for racial justice. It’s important to me that Oregon is a place that everyone can call home, and thrive. That’s always been my focus and I remain committed to that.”
The a Public Safety Training and Standards Task Force will be tasked with developing recommendations for a number of law enforcement matters, Brown's office said — including the application of best practices, research and data to officer training; incorporating racial equity; instilling the concepts of de-escalation and using the “least amount of force necessary” for lawful objectives; possible changes to the Board on Public Safety Standards and Training; and statutory requirements for officer de-certification.
“I have been proud to see Oregonians standing up peacefully and making their voices heard in calling for racial justice and real criminal justice reform, even in the middle of this pandemic, because the need for change is so pressing,” said Governor Brown. “But words from leaders aren’t enough. We need action. It’s time for a full review of law enforcement training, certification, and de-certification practices.”