Clatsop County Human Dignity Community Organizes in Wake of Hate Crime

Seaside, Oregon — Two gay men survived a serious beating after their 4 attackers shouted homophobic slurs at them and left them unconscious on the beach.  The attackers have not been found yet, but police have confirmed that they will prosecute this as a hate crime.

Already the human dignity community in Clatsop County is organizing to send a strong, united, and timely response to condemn the attack and affirm that Seaside, Clatsop County, and the Oregon Coast affirm the human dignity of all people.

Local leaders are moving quickly to gather funds to cover the men’s medical costs and put together a gift basket with donations from local merchants.  And they plan to garner support from local faith communities, businesses, residents and elected officials for a statement condemning the attacks to send to local media and present to the local City Council.

When Alan Brown in Eugene heard about the attack, he sat down and quickly drafted a resolution (see below) that he fired off to his state senators and representatives condemning the attack and asking them to take action to condemn this collectively as our state government.  Please email or call your senator and representative with this same request.  And he’s designed a beautiful and powerful “Not in Our Town” flyer personalized for Seaside, Oregon to visually lift up human dignity values across the coast.

As times get tougher, history tells us that scapegoating will rise and with it the potential for hate crimes like the one in Seaside.  It is up to us to make our schools and our communities and our families safe for all of our neighbors.

Below are resources for responding to a hate crime, but you don’t have to wait for something horrible to happen before you take action.

We should feel so proud that we live in a state where every rural county is linked to ROP’s network of human dignity groups.  Our state leads the way in charting a new progressive bottom line for human dignity no matter what your zip code.  But we are only powerful when we use the power that we have to keep advancing democracy.  What can you do to make your town even more committed to the rights and dignity of all people?

Resolution Condemning Hate Crime in Seaside, Oregon, Drafted by Alan Brown

Oregon is without a doubt one of the most beautiful states in our country.  Our mountains, flora and trees are beyond compare.  The wildlife in our state is breathtaking.  Tourism to see our natural resources are a primary commodity in our state’s economy, local budgets and local economies.  They are a natural resource with an extended value across the State of Oregon.  We cannot afford to forget that.

When people travel to this state they need to know that they are safe.  That their constitutional, civil and human rights will be respected regardless of where they are from, their race, or any other defining characteristic.

The State of Oregon should be safe for anyone that travels here, lives here, works here and is part of the great macrocosm that makes this state what it is.

Unfortunately for two young men traveling to Oregon from Washington this last weekend that was not the case.  A walk along the beach at night in Seaside, Oregon turned into a vicious assault based on their sexual orientation.and unknown personal relationships.

There is no doubt that this attach was morally, legally and ethically wrong.  You do not have to believe that “gay is good” to believe that these young men did not deserve this assault/attack.  It is my hope that members of the Oregon Legislator can come together an agree with this.

It is my hope that the Oregon Legislature will come together in a Joint Resolution to say that:

Whereas the Oregon House of Representatives and the Oregon Senate agree that every person in the State of Oregon abiding by the laws of this state deserves to be safe in their private, familial and public lives;

Whereas the Oregon House of Representatives and the Oregon Senate agree that people should be safe walking at night regardless of whether it’s a beach or a street in any of the many communities in this state regardless of whether the person is a resident of this state or not;

Whereas the Oregon House of Representatives and the Oregon Senate agree that no one should be marked for assault, intimidation or harassment  of any kind based on their race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, citizenship, marital status, age or disability;

Whereas in which the Oregon House of Representatives and the Oregon Senate agree that the assault on  Samson Deal and Kevin Petterson where they were beaten unconscious and left behind is against the laws of this state and is an immoral act against the communities of this state;

The Oregon House of Representatives and the Oregon Senate condemn the act(s) of violence that sent two young men vacationing in this state to the hospital with severe injuries.  The Oregon House of Representatives and the Oregon Senate calls on all public safety institutions in the State of Oregon to remain vigilant against such acts as the Seaside Police Department and it’s Chief Bob Gross have been in opposing this manner of law breaking in the State of Oregon.

There is no room for violence based on hatred and discrimination in the State of Oregon.  The Oregon House of Representatives and the Oregon Senate stand united on this matter.

For those of you seeking further substantiation on this matter I offer the following URLs.

http://www.issaquahpress.com/2009/03/24/issaquah-man-beaten-in-oregon-hate-crime/

http://www.towleroad.com/2009/03/gay-couple-attacked-during-spring-break-weekend-on-oregon-coast.html

http://www.dailyastorian.com/main.asp?SectionID=2&SubSectionID=398&ArticleID=59446&TM=50101.98

Not in Our Town!  Responding to Hate Crimes and Affirming the Human Dignity of All People
There are lots of options for a response, but the important thing is that there is a response and that it happen quickly so that the community sends a strong message that we will not stand for this and so that regular folks who want to respond to this have an opportunity to be part of standing up for justice and human dignity in their community.  Below are a few thoughts that ROP would be happy to work with you on or to help you think through what would work best in your community. If you would like to talk through any of this, contact ROP.

1. Draft a press release from your various organizations or churches, individually or collectively, denouncing this attack.  ROP can help with that.  If one or more local community leaders are able to respond as a spokesperson that would also help get out the counter message that the community says no to bigotry, racism, and hate and welcomes and supports the LGBT community/immigrant community/communities of color.

2. Contact any other groups in the area to join forces in this response – this could include LGBT groups, immigrants groups, other community or faith organizations.  The broader the response, the stronger – including other communities that are often the targets of hate crimes and scapegoating, such as the immigrant community, LGBT community, and communities of color.

3. Plan a public vigil, rally, event were you can get out this same message, including media coverage to help get out this message.

4. Hold a public meeting to have people speak out against this and talk about short and long term responses.

5. Post signs in businesses, yards to the effect of Not In Our Town or Hate Free Zone.  ROP can send you samples or you could make them locally.

6. Hold anti-oppression trainings in schools, churches, etc. to stop bigotry and violence before it happens.

7. Ask ROP to lead living room conversations that explore how the Right has historically and currently targeted small town and rural communities for white supremacist and anti-gay organizing, ways that we have pushed back, and how we can continue to organize for human dignity and fairness.

8. Contact Coalition Against Hate Crimes (http://www.againsthate.pdx.edu/) to find out if there has been other hate crimes or organizing in the area.  Publicize contact information through CAHC or other resources where people can report similar, events, especially if it seems like this is related to an organized group.

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