This past Saturday Portlanders joined to hear speakers, performances, and enjoy free access to museums and cultural heritage institutions in downtown Portland's Old Town/Chinatown neighborhood and marched to protect reproductive rights across the nation. While we met peacefully, a racially motivated mass shooting occurred at a Tops Friendly Markets supermarket in Kingsley, an eastern neighborhood of Buffalo, New York. Ten people were killed, three others were injured, and most were Black. The suspected gunman published an almost 200-page document, where he repeated a series of white supremacist ideologies including a racist conspiracy theory known as “the great replacement,” to justify the heinous murder of African Americans.
White supremacy is not new, especially here at home in Oregon. In 2021, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, ten hate groups were being tracked in Oregon, two of them specifically tied to the White Nationalist movement and one of them headquartered in Medford, Oregon. In a 2021 poll conducted by DHM Research and the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center, both independent nonpartisan organizations, surveyed over 600 Oregon residents and the results showed that about one in 10 Oregonians do support racist causes. That support had risen from 6% in July 2020 to 11% in January of 2021. With this history, Oregon was and is primed for white nationalist movements and the data collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation supports this. From the years 2015 to 2019, the reporting of hate crimes has been steadily increasing with jumps taking place both in 2017 and 2019 respectively.
We echo the statement of National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial and Buffalo Urban League President Thomas Beauford, Jr., issued in response to the racially motivated mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket in the heart of its predominantly Black East Side community:
“Our hearts and deepest sympathies are with the families who have lost loved ones to another senseless act of racial violence. As white supremacist hatred has raged out of control over the last few years, social media and gun merchants exploit it for profits, while atrocities and trauma continue to be inflicted on communities of color. We call on state and federal law enforcement to pursue hate crimes charges against the shooter and pursue policies to prevent such tragedies. Until we as a nation begin to confront the twin threats of domestic extremism and reckless gun policies as the grave crises they are, innocent people will continue to pay the deadly price.”
We stand with the ten individuals that lost their lives. We will remember them. We will continue to say their names.
Aaron Salter, 55
Ruth Whitfield, 86
Pearly Young, 77
Katherine "Kat" Massey, 72
Heyward Patterson, 67
Celestine Chaney, 65
Roberta Drury, 32
Margus D. Morrison, 52
Andre Mackneil, 53
Geraldine Talley, 62