Statement on the Open Letter to Hold PTU and Margot Black Accountable

On Monday a letter titled, “An Open Letter to the City of Portland: The Time has Come to Hold PTU and Margot Black Accountable” was published. That letter details first hand accounts and a long and consistent pattern of abusive, transphobic behavior and racist microaggressions by Margot Black and within Portland Tenants United, the organization of which she is a founding member and leader. It contains personal, public statements by many organizers in our community about their experiences, including descriptions of past, failed attempts at accountability processes around Margot Black’s problematic and harmful patterns of behavior. These statements include accounts from members of our own organization, too. 

Since that letter was published, we at Portland Jobs with Justice have heard from members of our Executive and Steering Committees, as well as our staff who are telling their personal stories of either themselves being a victim to or otherwise witnessing first-hand Margot Black’s abusive behavior and PTU’s consistently toxic defense of that behavior.

At Portland JwJ we believe victims. And we are in solidarity with not only our own members, but all who have been victims of racism, transphobia, and the abuse of people and power in our community.  We also recognize that PTU is a member of the Portland Jobs with Justice coalition, and that as such we have a responsibility to be part of this community conversation and help work toward a positive and successful resolution based on the principles of restorative justice. 

To that end, our Executive Committee addressed this issue extensively at our May meeting. We heard some of the stories from our own members and organizational leaders that were mentioned above. We also reviewed and held a lengthy discussion of the Open Letter and JwJ’s possible role in bringing our community to a place of healing.

After the discussion, the following votes were approved by the Portland Jobs with Justice Executive Committee.

    1. Portland JwJ endorses the Open Letter titled, “An Open Letter to the City of Portland: The Time has Come to Hold PTU and Margot Black Accountable”.
    2. In addition to endorsing the Open Letter, and because of numerous past attempts at accountability processes that have all failed, the Portland Jobs with Justice Executive Committee recommends to our Steering Committee that PTU be removed from the Portland Jobs with Justice coalition until such a time as PTU and Margot Black have successfully engaged in a restorative justice-based accountability process to the satisfaction of the victims 
    3. Finally, we voted to develop and communicate more clear boundaries and requirements for PTU’s reinstatement into the Portland Jobs with Justice coalition, to be put in place and communicated to PTU and the broader community if our Steering Committee approves the Executive Committee’s recommendation for expulsion.

We recognize that the work of creating a more just and equitable society necessitates that we start with ourselves, that we hold our own organizations, comrades, and allies accountable when we stumble, and that we work to bring about a process of restorative justice that can heal our community and lift us all back up. It is our most sincere hope that we can work together as a community to bring Margot Black and PTU into such an accountability process — one that is finally successful, so that the wounds our community has experienced can heal, and so  we can move forward together in strength and work together to build movements that can win much needed systemic changes for workers and renters in our society. 

In Solidarity,
Portland Jobs with Justice

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