Oregon Coalition Against Hate Crime

Fighting hate by networking resources

Dec. 15 CAHC meeting to be rescheduled — December 15, 2016

Dec. 15 CAHC meeting to be rescheduled

December 14, 2016

Thanks to the snow, PCC will be closed Thursday, 12/15, so we will have to reschedule our Coalition Against Hate Crime meeting. I apologize for any inconvenience. We will try to get a new meeting date out you as soon as possible.

 Please think about these two questions before we meet:
1. How can we encourage people across the state to report hate crimes and incidents to the appropriate authorities?
2. How can we engage in outreach to communities who are the most vulnerable to hate crimes?
Thanks and hope you all have the day off Thursday.
Randy Blazak,
CAHC chair
Senators’ open letter to the DOJ concerning hate crimes in Oregon. — December 1, 2016
CAHC meeting set for December 15th — November 28, 2016

CAHC meeting set for December 15th

November 28, 2016

The Coalition Against Hate Crime is having a face-to-face meeting to discuss recent hate related incidents in Oregon. We expect meeting participation from community partners, and local and federal law enforcement agencies. The meeting is open to the public.

Thursday, December 15th
2 p.m.
PCC Cascade Campus
Student Union Building, Room 204
The agenda will address two primary concerns:
1. How can communities be made to made to feel safe in the wake of election-related hate crimes and incidents?
2. What kind of education can be done to reduce hate and bias in our community in the coming year?
Additional agenda suggestions can be sent to me at: blazakr@gmail.com
This is a time of both vigilance and calm. Last week I appeared on an Al Jazeera program about the wave of fear around this issue.

Scared state: Fearing a Trump presidency

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The Department of Justice is also taking this issue very seriously.  The link below features U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch discussing the increase in reported hate crimes in 2015 and emphasizing U.S. Department of Justice’s ongoing commitment to enforcing the laws and keeping our community safe.

The Department of Justice has also released a statement titled,  PORTLAND METRO LAW ENFORCEMENT PARTNERS UNITED AGAINST ALL FORMS OF HATE CRIME. (click link)

We look forward to building strong responses to hate through our historic coalition.

Randy Blazak, CAHC chair

 

In the wake of Trump-related hate crimes and incidents in Oregon — November 20, 2016

In the wake of Trump-related hate crimes and incidents in Oregon

November 19, 2016

The media has been full of dramatic stories of hate crimes following the election of Donald Trump. There have also been numerous hate incidents reported, including in Oregon schools. What we do know is the number of hate crimes nationwide increased last year by 7 percent (and anti-Muslim crimes increased by 67%), according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report.

What we don’t know for 100% certain is that these crimes are a result of the rhetoric, campaign, or election of Donald Trump. There may be other factors leading to the increase or more people just might be reporting hate crimes to authorities.

BUT we do know, at least anecdotally, that many of these crimes and incidents have been committed by Trump supporters or people using Trump-related slogans, like “Build a wall” and “Make America great again.” This includes a racial assault of a woman in Hillsboro by men naming Trump and racist graffiti at Reed College referencing Trump. (below)

images-washingtonpost-com

On Friday, I appeared on OPB’s Think Out Loud to discuss the current climate and how to best respond to these tensions that are likely to follow us past Inauguration Day. I want to make two important points.

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First and foremost, people need to feel safe in their communities. A wave of fear has struck numerous minority communities this fall. This includes immigrants, Muslims, women, Latinx residents, and sexual minority groups. It important for us to defend our fellow citizens from harassment and attack, even if we are not members of those groups. The CAHC has long taken a “Not in our town” approach to hate crimes, where we stand, visibly and vocally, with those who are the targets of hate and against the agents of hate. Now is the time to be mindful of our neighbors who may feel fearful and vulnerable in this current divided climate.

Secondly, those who are the agents of hatred, including racism, sexism, Islamophobia and other bigotries, are often victims of ignorance and misinformation. This is something that can be solved with outreach, education, and calm conversation. America is at a crossroads. Will it become Trump supporters versus the rest of the country or will we use this crisis as a moment to come together? Hating the hater does not bring us forward, but helping the hater might.

As Oregon moves forward into the “Trump years,” the role of the Coalition Against Hate Crimes may be more important than ever. The CAHC has been active since 1997 but for the last two years we have existed primarily as a Facebook page and an email contact list. I would like to see the CAHC become again a more public presence in our state and work to make sure all the members of our many communities feel safe and heard. I encourage your suggestions for next steps.

Dr. Randy Blazak, CAHC chair

 

 

 

 

 

 

Death of man run down in Gresham ruled hate crime — September 15, 2016

Death of man run down in Gresham ruled hate crime

From KGW.com.

GRESHAM, Ore. — A couple already charged with crimes stemming from running down a man in Gresham have now been charged with a hate crime for the deadly incident.

Larnell Malik Bruce, 19, of Vancouver, was run over on Aug. 10 after a fight in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven at Burnside and 188th Avenue. He died several days later.

Russell Courtier, 38, the alleged driver of the red Jeep, and his passenger, Colleen Hunt, 35, were caught by police shortly after Bruce was run down.

Both had been charged with murder and failure to perform the duties of a driver to injured persons. They pleaded not guilty and were being held without bail. Their trial is scheduled  for Oct. 3.

A re-indictment document released Tuesday adds first-degree intimidation charges for both. It reads, in part, that Courtier and Hunt “did unlawfully, acting together and because of their perception of the race and color of Larnell Bruce intentionally cause physical injury to Larnell Bruce.”

In addition, Courtier was charged with second-degree intimidation for “unlawfully, intentionally and because of (Courtier’s) perception of race and color of Larnell Bruce, subject Darnell Bruce to offensive physical contact.”

The Portland Mercury reported that Courtier has ties to a prison-based white supremacist group called European Kindred. It was formed in the 1990s.

A photo on Courtier’s Facebook page shows a leg tattoo with the letters E and K within a shield.

The Portland Man Accused of Murdering A Black Teenager Is Connected to A White Supremacist Gang — August 23, 2016

The Portland Man Accused of Murdering A Black Teenager Is Connected to A White Supremacist Gang

Aug. 22, 2016

The white 38-year-old Portland man accused of murdering a 19-year-old African American man fleeing from him in Gresham earlier this month has tattoos indicating he’s in “European Kindred,” a white supremacist gang based in Oregon. The Mercury has also found several references he and his associates have made online backing up his connection to the group.

Convicted felon Russell Courtier and his girlfriend, 35-year-old Colleen Hunt, are accused of mowing down Larnell Bruce with their Jeep after Courtier and Bruce got in a fight on August 10 outside of a Gresham 7-Eleven store. Courtier and Hunt were officially indicted for murder on Friday and were arraigned this morning. According to a probable cause affidavit for Courtier and Hunt’s arrest, Courtier admitted to a detective he intentionally chased down and hit Bruce with his car.

Courtier was out of prison on parole for a gun conviction when he killed Bruce, according to court records.

EUROPEAN KINDRED

Facebook

Facebook

Courtier has the European Kindred logo tattooed on his leg, according to pictures he’s posted on Facebook. In a reply to a sarcastic comment someone left on this photo, Courtier said “I’ll cum in your face with white pride nigero.”

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FACEBOOK

Russ_Courtier_upperbody_tattoo.jpg

FACEBOOK

In a separate photo he uploaded of other tattoos, he wrote “511” in the comments, a code for the group where the 5 represents the E, the fifth letter the alphabet, and 11 represents K, the 11th letter. An associate of his also commented on Courtier’s picture, mentioning “us kindreds.”

European Kindreds are a white supremacist prison gang based out of Oregon. The Southern Poverty Law Center issued a long report on them in 2010:

Kennedy first organized the gang within the medium-security Snake River Correctional Institution, the largest prison in Oregon, where he was serving time for burglary. In less than two years, EK had spread to all four other medium-security prisons in the state. In 2001, as members were paroled, it began to establish a street gang presence in Portland. Over the next few years, EK became notorious as members committed hate crimes, murders, rapes and home-invasion robberies, along with manning identity-theft, methamphetamine-distribution and dog-fighting rings.EK now has at least 300 confirmed members in the Oregon prison system plus another 100-125 members on the streets of Portland, as well as in other cities and towns in the region. While the Portland-area street division of the gang — by far its largest outside of prison — is somewhat in disarray after a series of recent arrests of leaders and high-ranking members, the gang overall is expanding beyond the state where it was born. Last year, EK chapters appeared within prisons in Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico, and a street crew sprang up and began recruiting skinheads in Orange County, Calif.

Courtier has a lengthy criminal history and has spent time in prison for assaults and illegal weapons charges. He’s was previously convicted of four felonies and three misdemeanors—with seven parole violations—dating back to the late 1990s, according to court records. He was on parole for a felony weapons conviction—scheduled through March 2017—the night he killed Bruce.

THE MURDER

Larnell Bruce

Larnell Bruce GRESHAM PD

Just before midnight on Wednesday, August 10, Courtier and Hunt drove their red Jeep to a 7-Eleven store in Gresham. Outside the store, he and Bruce apparently exchanged words, and got into a fight. During the altercation, Bruce pulled out a “machete,” authorities said, and tried to walk away. Courtier and Hunt then hopped in their Jeep while Hunt yelled “get him baby, get him baby.” They chased after Bruce and intentionally hit him.

Here’s what what Courtier told Gresham Detective Aaron Turnage, according to the probable cause affidavit (emphasis ours):

Mr. Courtier stated he arrived at the 7-11 to make a purchase, and was contacted by and exchanged words with an unknown black male. Mr. Courtier admitted he and the black male adult got into a physical altercation, and the black male adult produced a machete. Mr. Courtier said he then stopped fighting and got into his vehicle. Mr. Courtier stated the black male walked away eastbound through the parking lot. Mr. Courtier says he was angry the male produced a knife and thought about driving away from the scene, however made a conscious decision to drive his vehicle towards and chase the black male. Mr. Courtier said the black male began to run away from his vehicle as he chased him. Mr. Courtier stated the black male ran to the east into a neighboring parking lot and Mr. Courtier said he chased him into the parking lot. Mr. Courtier admitted the black male turned directions and ran back towards the west and that he believed the black male was trying to get away from him. Mr. Courtier said he chased the black male across oncoming lanes of traffic and then intentionally struck him with the front of his vehicle. Mr. Courtier said that when he contacted the black male with his vehicle he knew he had hit him because he heard the impact and saw the male fall to the ground.”

The Mercury has asked the Gresham Police Department about the alleged machete/knife. We’ll update this post when more information comes in.

Larnell Bruce was motionless on the street with blood flowing out of his head and ears when police arrived. He was taken to OHSU and died three days later.

SOURCE: The Portland Mercury Article by Doug Brown

Crime Alert: Nazi skinhead killer at large — July 16, 2016

Crime Alert: Nazi skinhead killer at large

A man is suspected of shooting four people, killing three of them, Friday night in Clark County.

Authorities identified the shooting suspect as Brent W. Luyster, 35, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. Luyster was arrested this past May on accusations of of pistol-whipping his ex-girlfriend in Longview, and a May report from The Daily News says he “has a long criminal record sheet that includes several allegedly racially motivated attacks on black men.”

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Sgt. Tony Barnes of the sheriff’s office didn’t immediately know early Saturday morning how authorities identified Luyster as the suspect. Barnes said authorities were still at the scene of the shooting — a home in the 4000 block of Northwest 417th Street near Woodland.

Barnes said Luyster knew all the victims somehow. Barnes said one of the victims, a woman, drove herself from the shooting scene to an ampm convenience store. She was suffering from a gunshot wound to the face, deputies said.

The store, 1039 Lewis River Rd., is more than 2 miles away from the shooting scene.

Deputies responded to the store at 10:20 p.m. and found the woman who was suffering from a gunshot wound. Barnes said the woman went right into surgery. Deputies and members of the Southwest Washington Regional SWAT Team later responded to the home, where they found three people dead.

Luyster hasn’t been apprehended, and authorities think he’s armed and dangerous.

Deputies said he could be driving a gold Ford Explorer with a cargo rack and plates reading ATD5294. He could also be driving a white Explorer with Washington plates reading AYH9994.

Deputies said Luyster is 6 feet tall and about 200 pounds with a shaved head. He’s covered in tattoos, including multiple swastikas and ink that appears to read “skinhead.”

Barnes said the last place authorities know Luyster was living is in Longview. He has ties throughout Clark County, Barnes said.

Authorities haven’t identified the victims, Barnes said.

Deputies ask anyone who has information to call 911.

Source: Jim Ryan, the Oregonian
jryan@oregonian.com
503-221-8005; @Jimryan015

Deputies arrest Creswell man on hate crime charge — July 13, 2016

Deputies arrest Creswell man on hate crime charge

CRESWELL, Ore. – Deputies say a man reported he was threatened at his home near Creswell for being African American. Authorities arrested a man who lives near the victim.

According to the Lane County Sheriff’s Office, Rodney Blomberg, 45, was one of four men who drove to the victim’s home on Jackson Marlow Road near Creswell.

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The incident occurred about two weeks ago around 10 p.m.

According to court documents, three other men were with Blomberg, driving two vehicles with the confederate flag attached.

Officials say Blomberg and the victim are acquaintances.

“We had deputies respond. The suspect, 45-year-old Rodney Blomberg, reportedly made some racial slurs towards the neighbor, some intimidating comments,” said Carrie Carver from the Lane County Sheriff’s Office.

In the affidavit, the victim stated that he “does not feel safe living in the area because of this.”

The victim identified himself as half black with brown skin and black curly hair.

Law enforcement arrested Blomberg a couple days after the incident for second degree intimidation. His next court appearance is scheduled on August 15.

Source: KMTR Eugene

Will LGBTQ “Safe Places” come to Portland? — June 24, 2016

Will LGBTQ “Safe Places” come to Portland?

SEATTLE — A program in Seattle designed to help protect the LGBTQ community is getting interest from other major cities across the country.

Safe Place was launched in May 2015 and allows businesses and schools to post signs in their windows, indicating they are a “safe place” for victims of anti-LGBTQ crimes and harassment to seek help.

Officer Jim Ritter, the Seattle Police Department’s LGBTQ liaison officer and head of Safe Place, is in San Francisco this week to teach that city more about the program.

His visit came as a gunman opened fire in a gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 people and injuring dozens of others.

“After hearing the news of these shootings in Orlando, I had to remind myself that the person who committed these murders did more than just take lives of innocent victims,” Officer Ritter said. “He kind of single-handedly brought to life the fact that these hate crimes against the LGBT community that they face daily are very real and a problem that needs to be addressed.”’

Ritter, who is gay, said the shooting has sparked a worldwide conversation about LGBTQ rights and the challenges the community still faces. He hopes the tragedy will be a reminder to anyone who is the victim of a hate crime that they should not be afraid to report it.

Since the Safe Place program launched in Seattle, around 1,600 businesses and schools have signed on, Ritter said. In addition to San Francisco, he said cities like Tucson, Ariz., and Philadelphia have also expressed interest in launching similar initiatives.

Source: Seattle’s ‘Safe Place’ program getting interest from other major cities

Vancouver church known for inclusiveness suffers from suspicious fire — May 25, 2016

Vancouver church known for inclusiveness suffers from suspicious fire

From KGW.com

VANCOUVER, Wash. — A fire damaged the roof and interior of a church in the Hazel Dell neighborhood Wednesday morning.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was on scene helping the fire marshal figure out what happened, and whether the fire could be arson.

Firefighters were called at about 3 a.m. to the report of flames coming from the First Congressional United Church of Christ, at 1220 NE 68th St.

Photos: Fire damages Hazel Dell church

Crews said they believe the fire had started on the outside of the building and spread inside the church. They say it was a fast-moving fire and the glow of it could be seen from Interstate 5. Crews were afraid the roof would collapse.

“We were inside at one point and time, and feared this building would come down on top of us,” said David Schmitke, with Clark County Fire District 6. “We were very defensive at first, trying to keep it from collapsing.”

No one was hurt.

Jennifer Olson lives nearby the church. She says she woke up around 3 a.m., felt something wasn’t right, and looked out her window. That’s when she saw a huge ball of flames coming from the church.

“The flames were coming out good. They were coming out big time. It’s just kind of weird. You just don’t expect it to happen in your area. Especially the church,” said neighbor Rod McSwan.

Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire within a few hours, but are still watching for hot spots, and are working to save the steeple and cross.

Church members said they are devastated. Church Pastor Jennifer Brownell said the building means a lot to her and to the congregation. It’s a safe place and the church welcomes everyone, she says.

“We’ve always been at the forefront in a lot of ways. Welcoming of gay and lesbian people, and really involved in children’s issues and racial issues this building. This spot has always been a real rallying point for people,” she said.

It was built to look like a dove, and a lot of people think it looks like Noah’s Ark. She says both are fitting symbols as they look to rebuild.

“We like both the dove and Noah’s Ark image. They both are beautiful for us. The dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit and the work of God and the Ark is a symbol of safety and sanctuary,” she said. “Both of those are important to us and we’ll keep those images in mind as we move ahead.”

She says they will worship Sunday, although it might not be inside the damaged sanctuary. She says they might have an impromptu worship service Wednesday, too.

No damage estimates were available.

Note: Martha’s Pantry, the food pantry at the church, will be closed due to smoke damage Thursday and Friday. People seeking food support should contact Clark County Food Bank.