January 8, 2018
Following the presidential election in November of 2016, it was clear that a continued increase in hate crimes was likely. Nobody was quite prepared for what 2017 had in store for the country or for Oregon. Although the national data for 2017, collected in the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report, won’t be available until mid-2018, preliminary evidence shows a dramatic increase in both hate crimes and non-criminal hate incidents. (The 2016 FBI data showed a 5% increase in reported hate crimes above 2015.) In the ten days following the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center counted 33 hate crimes and non-criminal hate incidents in Oregon, putting the state in the lead as experiencing the highest surge of hateful attacks, per capita, in the country.
A 2017 study by the Center for Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino looked at police data for the first half of 2017 for twelve cities across the country and found a 20 percent increase of reported hate crimes in those cities as compared to the first half of 2016. Leading the pack in that group was Portland, Oregon with a 200 percent increase in reported hate crimes. Making up the most significant trend in that surge has been the dramatic increase in anti-Muslim and anti-Arab hate crimes, especially after President Trump’s proposed anti-Muslim immigration ban. If there is any good news, it may be that hate crimes may have leveled off in the second half of 2017, but, again, we won’t have that aggregate data until mid-2018.
There has also been a rise in active hate groups connected to the Trump phenomenon. The SPLC counted a second year of growth of hate groups in 2016, identifying 917 nationally and 11 in Oregon (including 4 black separatist groups). In 2017, Oregon saw the Nationalist Socialist Movement open a chapter in Salem, a Mississippi Klansman at a Trump rally in Lake Oswego, and a convicted hate criminal set up a YouTube channel and weapons shop in Creswell. The state saw Neo-Nazi activity from Portland to Ashland, including anti-Semitic banners hung from overpasses on I-5. The state also witnessed numerous alt right rallies which have attracted a wide range of individuals and causes, including those opposing immigration and rights of Muslim Americans.
One of those attracted to the alt right cause was Jeremy Christian. If any act defines hate in Oregon this past year, it was his rampage on a Portland commuter train on May 26th. When three individuals, Ricky John Best, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, and Micah David-Cole Fletcher, attempted to stop Christian from a racist assault of two teenage girls, Christian stabbed all three in the neck, killing Best and Namkai-Meche. Christian’s Facebook page (which is still accessible) professes admiration for Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City Bomber who killed 168 people, including 19 children. At his May 30th arraignment in a Portland courtroom, Christian shouted, “You call it terrorism, I call it patriotism. You hear me? Die.” Christian reflects to true threat of violence from America’s rejuvenated face of hate.
But 2017 also witnessed great resistance to hate in Oregon, including the spontaneous memorial that sprung up at the Hollywood Max station where Christian’s violent attack unfolded (and which will soon become a more permanent art installation sponsored by Tri-met). Across the state, intervention trainings, implicit bias educational forums, and cultural events with Muslim and other communities occurred to counter the new hate. The Coalition hosted a forum on hate crimes on August 12 at the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, facilitated by the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service. Unfortunately, the event occurred the same day as the murderous events in Charlottesville, Virginia. However, communities large and small across the state have continued to work to reduce hate locally. On September 23, a national organization of former hate group members, Life After Hate, held its first summit in Welches, Oregon to strategize solutions to reduce hate in America.
2017 was the year that put Oregon back on the national and international radar for the its issues with hate; issues that go all the way back to the founding of the state. The rash of swastikas and anti-immigrant attacks have forced us to reflect on what our true values as Oregonians are. This spotlight will not likely dim in 2018 with the one-year anniversary of the Max attack on May 26th and the 30th anniversary of the Portland murder of Mulugeta Seraw by racist skinheads on November 12th. Those commemorations, along with the divisive political climate and tensions building up to the mid-term elections in November, will test our resolve to move Oregon towards a more welcoming environment, opposite of its racially restrictive founding. The Coalition Against Hate Crime is committed to its mission to educate, improve reporting and investigation of hate crime, and, most of all, make sure members of targeted communities across Oregon feel safe. We have your back.
The 63 hate crimes and incidents listed below do not represent a comprehensive list. Hate crimes are vastly under-reported and there is a large gap of information about hate-related incidents that occur outside of the I-5 corridor, including along the coast and in eastern Oregon. These are the reports that have come into the CAHC via email, our Facebook page, or local media accounts. Some of the criminal events have results in arrests, while others remain unsolved. The reflect of slice of the hate that has occurred in our state in 2017. We continue to encourage people to report any hate activities to local authorities, but we also encourage victims and witnesses to also contact the Coalition.
Oregon’s Year in Hate: 2017
1/24 – Ashland. Neo-Nazi flyers posted around Ashland.
1/25 – Ashland. Black truck with a swastika placard reading, ‘The greatest story never told’ and “Jew Lies Matter” photographed driving around Ashland.
1/29 – Portland. Five males enter the Mount Covenant Church and disrupt services, espousing hate for immigrants and refugees.
1/30 – Portland. A Latino man was assaulted by a skinhead outside Zupans. He also made racist and homophobic comments during the attack.
2/1 – Portland. A man physically accosts workers and customers at Crema Coffee, screaming about “N lovers” and “faggots.”
2/4 – Eugene. Racially-charged messages, including swastikas, were left on 2 Eugene businesses over the weekend.
2/6 – Portland. A brick is thrown through window of the Black Lives Matter display at a feminist book store.
2/7 – Eugene. Nazi skinheads sporting swastikas seen driving a van with a placard reading, “Trump: Do the white thing.”
2/7 – Portland. A 35-year-old Hispanic man who works at a Southeast Portland funeral home was assaulted at his workplace was assaulted by an unknown white man who began yelling anti-immigrant slurs and hit him several times with some kind of object, possibly a belt.
2/14 – West Linn. Valentines with Hitler’s picture were found at Athey Creek Middle School with the phrase, “Be mein.”
2/18 – Ashland – A metal rail box was spray-painted with the words, “Anne Frank oven.”
2/19 – Portland. A man storms the pulpit at the United Church of Christ and begins yelling anti-homosexual epithets at the pastor, who is gay.
2/23 – Hillsboro. Swastikas are painted in Liberty High School for the second time in two weeks.
3/2 – Lake Oswego. Racist graffiti written on walls in Lake Oswego High School.
3/4 – Lake Oswego. Klan leader from Mississippi attends a pro-Trump rally.
3/4 – Salem. Officers arrested Jason Kendall, 52, for allegedly attacking a man working at a Middle Eastern restaurant with a pipe and telling his victim to “Go back to your country, terrorist,”
3/6 – Portland. The Mittleman Jewish Community Center (MJCC) evacuated its campus on Monday in SW Portland after receiving an e-mail threat. Numerous other Jewish centers are threatened on the same day.
3/7 – Portland. Anti-gay graffiti found in gender-neutral bathroom at Grant High School.
3/12 – Portland. Numerous swastikas painted on cars, trees, and pavement in Portland along SE 33rd Ave. in Richmond neighborhood.
3/12 – Portland. Neo-Nazis asked to leave Lucky Lab beer hall after disruption.
3/28 – Troutdale. An Iranian-American’s home was severely damaged by anti-Muslim vandalism.
4/19 – Portland. Mexican-American’s home in Northeast Portland vandalized, crude explosive device found.
4/21 – Portland. Attack of workers at Dar Salam restaurant in Northeast Portland by veteran shouting anti-Arab threats.
4/24 – Springfield. Nine neo-Nazis hold rally and meeting.
4/25 – Portland. Latina woman attacked by a white man on NE Martin Luther King Drive who threatened to kill her.
4/29 – Portland. Alt-right rally in Montavilla includes Jeremy Christian.
5/11 – Eugene. Man enters Eugene Islamic Center and threatens to kill people.
5/13 – Portland. Right-wing and white nationalists rally in Chapman Square.
5/14 – Eugene. White Power flyers posted around city.
5/25 – Portland. Jeremy Christian assaults a black woman on a Tri-Met bus.
5/26 – Portland. Jeremy Christian kills two men, injures third, on Northeast Portland Max train after an anti-immigrant rant accosting two black and Muslim riders.
6/2 – Portland. Muslim couple harassed and threatened in NE Portland.
6/2 – Portland. Man pistol whipped on I-5 in Portland, told to get out of the country.
6/4 – Portland. Pro-Trump rally in downtown Portland includes anti-black/anti-Muslim signs.
6/5 – Lane County. Signs hanging from bridge over I-205 said, “Jews did 9-11.”
6/7 – Portland. True Cascadia white nationalist flyers in posted in Southwest Portland.
6/8 – Portland. Racist flyers posted in Southeast Portland.
6/8 – Portland. Good in the Hood festival receives a letter, claiming to be from the KKK, threatening a “blood bath.”
6/12 – Beaverton. Transphobic graffiti found in ACMA bathroom.
6/23 – Portland. Racist threat phoned into Good in the Hood festival.
6/26 – Salem. Neo-Nazi Kynan Dutton announces a Nationalist Socialist Movement chapter in Salem.
7/21 – Portland. Man assaults Indian family on Max train at Portland State.
7/21 – Portland. Anti-South Asian harassment on SE Hawthorne Blvd.
7/24 – Portland. Family’s ‘Black Lives Matter’ sign burned down in front yard.
7/27 – Portland. Man harasses patrons outside of Portland gay bar on SE Stark St.
8/6 – Springfield. Repeated harassment of Latino family by white neighbor.
8/20 – Portland. White man yelling racial slurs on a Max Train.
8/21 – Lane County. Nazi “eclipse” banners on I-5.
9/3 – Troutdale. Racist graffiti in Sweetbriar Elementary.
9/10 – Portland. Alt right rally in downtown Portland and Vancouver, WA.
9/11 – Portland. Abu-Bakar Islamic Center in NE Portland tagged with “ISIS” graffiti.
9/21 – Corvallis. Confederate flag hanging across from black cultural center.
9/24 – Portland. “KKK wants you” magnet in Roosevelt High School.
9/28 – Portland. Racist graffiti at Menlo Park Elementary.
10/5 – Portland. “Kill Muslims” sticker in a Multnomah County employee bathroom.
10/16 – Portland. Beverly Clearly statues vandalized with swastikas.
11/15 – Portland. Racist flyers appear on the campuses of Portland Community College – Rock Creek and Clark College in Vancouver, WA.
12/9 – Portland. Alt-right rally by Patriot Prayer.
12/11 – Portland. Car on NW Naito Parkway spray painted with “N word.”
12/12 – Portland. Patriot Prayer protest of Hillary Clinton speech.
12/16 – Portland. Portland State University flyered with posters for the racist Patriot Front.
12/23 – Portland. Portland Community College – Cascade flyered with posters for the racist Patriot Front.
If there are other incidents that should be included in this tally, please email Randy Blazak at email@example.com.