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1985: the dim blue line part 2: "Don't Choke 'Em, Smoke 'Em" | AIDS: the deadly plague


Finally, civilization! The New York Times starts up daily door-to-door delivery.

Mayor Bud Clark "whoop-whoops" when he cracks open the crate containing Portlandia's immense visage. The 9-ton statue is a year late and thousands of dollars over budget by the time it arrives in Union Station en route to its final resting place in front of the Portland Building.

A faux pas turns into a windfall for ex-Hubbard head Julie Chistofferson Tichbourne, who wins a $38 million verdict when her case against the Church of Scientology is tried a second time. The initial $2 million verdict was overturned because of faulty instructions to the jury.

Quarterflash records its third album in France for six figures. Public doesn't bite.

Portland police crack down on cruising along Southeast 82nd Avenue after neighbors complain that the Happy Days fun has become a Mad Max nightmare of drinking, prostitution and baseball-bat-wielding teenagers.

Pro-life protests turn deadly when mail bombs are sent to four local abortion clinics. No one is injured. The bombs cap a string of increasingly violent actions by anti-abortion advocates, including cutting phone lines at the Feminist Clinic and an arson attempt at the Lovejoy Center.

Nu Shooz hits the big time with a catchy number, "I Can't Wait."

Rock-and-roll's most eligible bachelor, Bruce Springsteen, and local girl Julianne Phillips outwit vigilant paparazzi and pull off their midnight nuptials without the flash of cameras at Lake Oswego's Our Lady of the Lake Roman Catholic Church. Copies of the Boss' Clackamas County marriage record later sizzle on the auction block back East.

WW hits the streets with its inaugural Best of Portland issue. Best Movie Theater: Cinema 21. Best Pro Athlete: Clyde Drexler. Best Political Flash in the Pan: political hopeful Bill Deiz, who ran for City Council but didn't live in Portland.

State medical examiner William J. Brady is suspended after he admits using money from the sale of body parts to fund Christmas parties and purchase office supplies. Two years later, Brady wins $300,000 in damages against the state for wrongful dismissal.

A funny thing happens on the way to the slaughterhouse: A 600-pound pig falls from the back of a truck on the Banfield Freeway near Lloyd Center and blocks westbound traffic for two hours. The porker must suspect its destination; attempts to budge the recalcitrant swine end in failure. A state highway crew finally brings home the bacon by hefting the barnyard beast back into the truck with a frontloader.

Lawmakers allow suds on site when Senate Bill 813 creates a new liquor-license category that lets small breweries sell to the public. BridgePort BrewPub on Northwest Marshall Street wastes no time in turning on the taps as it becomes the first of a new breed of brewery public house, fueling a microbrew revolution.

The Oregon State Lottery kicks off its first ticket sales. Chances of winning the "Pot of Gold" are roughly 1 in 25 million; you're 10 times more likely to get hit by a train. Proceeds are expected to swell state coffers by $40 million a year.


  Four years after the opossum incident exposed the tense fault line running between Portland's African-American community and its mostly white police force, the April 20 death of Lloyd Stevenson at the hands of white police officers shook Portland to its core.

That night the black 31-year-old Fred Meyer security guard entered a Northeast Portland 7-Eleven and headed for the video games just as white store clerks were detaining an African-American man suspected of shoplifting. Stevenson was known throughout the community as a calm, level-headed good Samaritan. So when the suspected shoplifter ran out the market's doors and a large crowd gathered to watch the confrontation between store clerks and the supposed thief, it

was no surprise that Stevenson tried to contain the melee until police arrived.

Then Greg Cavic, a Shell gas-station attendant bearing a spooky resemblance to Kato Kaelin, walked over and started arguing with Stevenson. By the time police arrived, Cavic and Stevenson's argument had grown heated enough that Officer Bruce Pantley stepped between them. Another officer, Gary Barbour, applied a "sleeper hold" to Stevenson and maintained pressure for 15 seconds. Stevenson went into cardiac arrest. None of the officers administered CPR, an inquest would later find, and Stevenson was pronounced dead on arrival at a nearby emergency room.

That Barbour and Pantley overreacted was clear. So, too, was their violation of bureau policy that called for officers to apply CPR following use of the sleeper hold.

But for many Portlanders the incident posed larger questions: Would police have acted so indiscriminately if Stevenson had been white? Also evident was that the incident needed to be examined publicly. And while District Attorney Michael Schrunk would call for a highly unusual public inquest, many questioned whether an all-white panel would do anything other than whitewash the cops' actions when it heard testimony the following month.

Against the backdrop of Stevenson's senseless death, two officers spat in the face of a city trying to grapple with these questions. On the very day Stevenson was buried, officers Richard Montee and Paul Wickersham sold as many as 30 T-shirts in the East Precinct parking lot, depicting a smoking gun and emblazoned with the slogan "Don't Choke 'Em, Smoke 'Em," indicating that they--and the officers who bought the shirts--believed Pantley and Barbour hadn't erred in killing Stevenson but had erred only in their method.

Portland's African-American community was outraged.

"The opossum incident could almost be dismissed as a prank," says former City Commissioner Charles Jordan, now director of the Parks Bureau. "Now you're talking about something that was unbelievable."

Mayor Bud Clark fired Montee and Wickersham. The six-member inquest panel found officers Barbour and Pantley guilty of criminally negligent homicide, though a grand jury did not return criminal charges against the pair. Pantley eventually left the force, but Barbour is still a Portland police officer. Montee and Wickersham were later reinstated by a federal arbitrator.


Putrid purple lesions sprouted on the skin of healthy men; in time, rivers of diarrhea would flush from bodies grown increasingly frail, battered beyond their years.

There were no drug cocktails, no glam fund-raisers, no AIDS mega-industry to turn to--not quite yet. It was the mid-1980s, after all, and a fledging killer was just beginning to snake its way into the American mind and body.

For many gay men, the disease posed a terrible dilemma: to test or not to test?

"It was a very scary time," says Tom Richardson, coordinator of the Oregon AIDS Hotline, who took the HTLV-III (later known as HIV) screening test when it first became available in 1985. "I was out and active during the period the disease was spreading and nobody knew about it, so I thought, I'm going to pick up my death sentence now. It was like I was moving in slow motion."

And though a test was available, treatments remained elusive. "The inevitable conclusion was that if you tested positive, you were going to die," says Richardson.

"We dissuaded people from taking the test," says epidemiologist Vic Fox, who worked at the county's sexually transmitted diseases clinic when the HTLV-III test emerged. Public health officials, he recalls, harbored serious concerns about the psychological impact on people who tested positive.

"We hired about 20 professional psychologists, most from the gay and lesbian community, to counsel those who insisted on getting tested, but virtually no one showed up for the screenings," Fox says. "We started with 20 counselors, then we were down to three, then two, then it was just me."

"It was considered a death sentence--and who wanted to deal with that?" notes Tom Cook, co-founder of the Gay and Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest, which collects and preserves the region's gay and lesbian history.

But denial wasn't the only deterrent. There were questions about the test's accuracy, as well as fear about who would have access to the results.

Cook, who received his first screening in 1985, gave the county a false name. "You didn't know what would happen if your name was on some list somewhere," he says.

To allay these fears, public health officials instituted a system of anonymous testing, under which patients did not even have to disclose their name. Combined with the first tentative therapies, this provided more incentive to take the test.

"Public health began with a flat-out 'Don't do it' message, then moved to a neutral position," explains Fox, "and several years later moved to proactively encouraging people to test with the caveat they use the information in a beneficial, constructive way."

Although increasingly effective therapies have allowed many people with HIV-AIDS to live longer, many of the fears of two decades ago remain today. For example, when Cascade AIDS Project recently shuttered its HIV-testing program aimed at gay and bisexual men, critics blasted the move, arguing that queer guys would not submit to testing by a government agency. And the bubbling controversy over whether to require reporting HIV carriers to state health authorities still generates alarm. Says Richardson: "Human nature being what it is, we still get calls to the hot line from people who say, 'I just don't want to know.'"


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