Progressive rural Oregon has stepped up with bold responses to recent challenges to community peace and unity, but now more than ever we count on the ROP network throughout the state of Oregon to maintain vigilance and open lines of communication. Let’s send a message to hate groups and perpetrators of hate crimes that says, “Not in our Town, not in our STATE!”
With our economy taking a turn for the worst, it is hard to not ask ourselves the question: who got us into this mess? With unemployment in Oregon now up to 12%, many of us who have worked hard to contribute to our community find ourselves at a dead end with no clear way forward.
Rural Organizing Project members realize that members of our own community are not to blame, but that the problems we face are structural, rooted in institutions that value profit and power over respect of human dignity. But we also know that in these times of real insecurity, the potential for scapegoating increases dramatically.
A recent report from the Southern Poverty Law Center found that 926 hate groups are currently active in the United States, up from 602 in the year 2000. These are groups with roots in the Ku Klux Klan, the neo-Nazi movement, white supremacists, and with messages that are increasingly anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, and anti-gay.
In Southern Oregon a recent front page story about a 3-man local chapter of the Neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement has led to quick responses by local activists and organizers to host a rally in the small Oregon town of Phoenix in Jackson County this past Sunday. Participants carried signs that underlined their message of love and handed out cookies to passers-by.
On the northern Oregon coast, local ROP members responded to the brutal bashing of a gay couple last month in Seaside with a strong, public statement against hate that was published in the paper this past weekend. Coastal community members have also helped push forward an resolution calling on Oregon’s legislators to condemn the crime and urge Congress to pass federal hate crimes legislation. Drafted by Eugene-area ROP friend and activist, Alan Brown, the resolution has been introduced into committee and is expected to be assigned a bill number very soon (stay tuned for updates!).
Progressive rural Oregon has stepped up with bold responses to these challenges to community peace and unity, but now more than ever we count on the ROP network throughout the state of Oregon to maintain vigilance and open lines of communication. Let’s send a message to hate groups and perpetrators of hate crimes that says, “Not in our Town, not in our STATE!”
One important way to get this message across today is by supporting an important piece of Legislation that is being considered by our US representatives right now: the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The law expands the coverage of existing hate crime laws to include not only victims of crime based on race, color, religion, and national origin, but also bias-motivated crimes based on the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability. It also provides for federal involvement in prosecuting hate crimes in states where current law or local actions are inadequate.
Click here to contact your Representative, leave him a message today urging him to support HR 1913. Also contact our friends at the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network for more information about the bill.
And remember that when hate rears its ugly head in your community, ROP is here for you! Keep up the good work, rural Oregon!