Arguments in former Register-Guard entertainment reporter Serena Markstrom-Nugent's case against the R-G began in court yesterday, Aug. 22. You can read the KLCC story and the R-G's own fairly neutral coverage on their websites.
The Civil Liberties Defense Center is hosting a Know Your Rights information booth at Kesey Square today, Thursday, Aug. 18, 7:30 pm-9 pm at Kesey Square (10th & Broadway).
The Eugene Police Department recently increased its presence downtown with its Community OutReach Team (CORT). EPD says in its press release that "Trespass, drug and alcohol use, drug sales, prostitution, robbery and serious assaults typically increase in the downtown area during the spring and summer, as the weather improves."
EPD says the downtown effort seeks to "identify the people who most frequently end up with citations or arrests, assess the factors that may contribute the most strongly to this, and then find the people and offer them services to address their most critical needs." But EW has received calls from people concerned or threatened by the inreased presesnce of law enforcement.
Attorney Lauren Regan of the Civil Liberties Defense Center announced todat the the CLDC will "be hosting a Know Your Rights information booth at Kesey Square to empower everyone in the Eugene community to know their rights when interacting with the police. Advice on constitutional rights, such as the right to assemble in public places like Kesey Square, sidewalks and public parks will be emphasized as well as basic instruction on how to 'Copwatch,' or video record law enforcement."
The CLDC release continues:
The increased presence of the Eugene Police Department has made many in the community feel less welcome and afraid to be downtown. The EPD has been observed hassling the unhoused during their “outreach” efforts downtown
“Everyone in the United States has the same constitutional rights, whether you are a traveler or a shopper. Class discrimination is unconstitutional and unethical. Our community must deal with the lack of services and support for poor and disabled individuals instead of using cops to push these individuals out of sight.” Explained Lauren Regan, Executive Director and Attorney at the Civil Liberties Defense Center said on Thursday. “Placing a booth full of cops in the midst of a highly used public forum is chilling to those who wish to exercise their right to free speech and assembly. If we do not stand up for the rights of marginalized people with less power, we will all eventually suffer from the erosion of those rights,” she said.
The CLDC will also be handing out “Know Your Rights “ brochures, Gatorade, ice water and snacks to help those without access to air conditioning to help beat todays heat as well. Some people could use a reminder about humanity it seems.
"The ultimate con artist," "The master of impersonations." In Eugene?
Eugene’s Downtown Athletic Club recently severed its relationship with its general manager Carlo DiMaria. According to an email sent to DAC members on Aug. 2 from DAC owner Rob Bennett, “We were made aware that Carlo intentionally misstated experience on his resume.”
However David Markland, an L.A.-based event producer, says he has reason to believe that Carlo DiMaria didn’t just intentionally misstate his experience. Markland alleges that DiMaria is longtime confidence man Fred Brito.
Brito, as he is mainly known despite a litany of assumed names, was the subject of a 2007 NBC Dateline special, “The Ultimate Con Artist” detailing his history of cons from working as a court-appointed psychiatrist to high-profile fundraiser and even a Catholic priest who married couples and performed baptisms. One of the couples faced off with “Father Fred” on a 2007 episode of Dr. Phil after discussing how it felt to be married by someone who was not an ordained clergy member.
Markland says he is troubled by the fact many of Brito’s former employers don’t pursue cases against the fraudster, possibly because they are embarrassed at hiring a conman — even one who has fooled the UCLA medical center and state officials — or because Brito uses his gift for gab to convince people he would have a lawsuit if he was exposed.
Ironically, according to Dateline, Brito is a pretty likeable guy. Those whom he had conned say that he has a “good heart” and his homilies as a priest were “great.” In fact, when the DAC parted ways with DiMaria, the athletic club wrote, “While he has some done some positive things during his short tenure at the DAC, providing false information is not acceptable, and we are unable to move forward in our relationship.”
It’s not illegal to lie on your resume, though lying about credentials can lead to liability issues for employers and can of course lead to the employee’s work relationship being terminated. Eugene police says there is no record of an arrest or charges filed against either a Carlo DiMaria or a Fred Brito.
An anonymous source who contacted EW alleges that DiMaria is Fred Brito and that his approximately three-month tenure at the DAC led to the departure of several longtime employees. Markland’s source, cited on his blog, tells him that DiMaria “created such a hostile workplace that several of the tenured staff left in that time." A glance at the DAC’s staff roster on its website shows that between July 29 and Aug. 3 at least three employees working in membership are no longer listed.
EWhas called and emailed Bennett and Sarah Bennett, who are part of the DAC’s leadership, to confirm if they know if DiMaria is actually Fred Brito and has not heard back. The Bennetts' voicemails say they are out of town through Aug. 9. On the morning of Aug. 3, when EW began looking into the story, DiMaria was listed as the contact for the DAC on the Chamber of Commerce website, but by that evening his name had been removed.
Markland says he has been tracking Fred Brito ever since he began writing about him for the site Metroblogging L.A. more than 10 years ago, and people have been sending tips to his current “Lies” blog including Brito’s employment at an IHOP in Kansas City to a Beaverton, Oregon, Burgerville. According to the blog, Brito gets tripped up by disclosure of his past criminal history or the lies on his resume — according to Dateline, Brito was a five-time convicted felon by the time he was in his twenties.
Brito says in his Dateline interview that when he provides a reference, the number given forwards to Brito’s own number and he changes his voice and gives himself glowing recomendation.
A resume obtained by EW that Brito allegedly used to obtain his position at the DAC, lists G. “Carlo” DiMaria as the applicant. It says he worked for “Southwest Hospitality Corporation” for about 30 years and says that the company was merged with Starwood Hotels in 2012. EW has contacted Starwood. The resume also says DiMaria served in the Marine Corps. According to the L.A. Times article, Brito enlisted in the Marines as Freddrick Esparza from 1973 to 1977, the same dates DiMaria provides on the resume.
Brito has claimed in interviews with the L.A. Times and in online videos (see below) that the fact he has a criminal record precludes him from getting second chances and leads to his fabricated resumes.
EWhas emailed and left phone messages for Brito, but has not had messages returned.
Facebook photos from the Downtown Athletic Club appear to show Brito in the background, however DAC has yet to confirm if the athletic club hired the man known as Fred Brito, thinking they had hired G. Carlo DiMaria, a name Markland lists as among Brito’s many aliases. Brito has said in online postings that he has changed his name to Gomez DiMaria. EW's source says the man in the photos at the DAC is the man in the Dateline video, and says, "I knew 'Carlo' in Eugene and he is the same person who appears in the Dateline episode as Fred Brito."
Markland says he is unable to confirm the identity from the Facebook photos.
Left: A man who is allegedly the conman Fred Brito at a DAC celebration for longtime employees in June. Right: Fred Brito from a Twitter profile image.
Markland lists Brito’s alias as including: G. "Carlo" diMaria, Giancarlo di Maria, Carlo di Maria, Freddrick Esparza, Father B. Gomez de Esparza, Father Federico Brito Gomez de Esparza, Federico Gomez de Maria, Freddrick Mark Brito, Federiqkoe DiBritto III, Father Fred Esparza, Fred Brito Gomez and Fred Gomez.
Brito has tried to parlay his conman career into seminars and public speaking gigs as can be seen in the video below, which also features the Dateline episode.
The measure proposes a 2.5 percent tax on corporations with annual Oregon sales of more than $25 million. The revenue from that would go toward bolstering Oregon's underfunded school system as well as supporting senior services and health care.
From her campaign website:
I have spent my career fighting to make Oregon a place where everyone can thrive. I support Measure 97 because there is a basic unfairness in our tax system that makes working families pay an increasing share for state and local services, including public schools, senior services and health care. By some measures, Oregon is among the lowest in corporate taxes, and Oregonians expect everyone to pay their fair share.
Our state cannot move forward and meet Oregon's growing needs over the next decade without a more stable revenue base. Measure 97 is an important step forward, and I will make sure the funds the measure yields go towards schools, health care and seniors, as the voters expect.
While the decision is ultimately up to the Oregon Legislature, having the governor on record promising to follow through on the intent of Measure 97 helps its credibility, and legislators have made similar promises on record.
However, someone ought to tell Oregon candidate for governor Bud Pierce that Brown has endorsed the measure — he still has a live clock running on his website counting the days until Brown takes a position on the business tax. He sent a letter to Brown last September urging her to come out against it. Now he has his answer.
In the same announcement, Brown endorsed five other ballot measures, including a measure to support outdoor schools with lottery funds and a measure that would allocate funds to bolster dropout prevention in high schools.
Remember when Malheur occupation leader John Ritzheimer got all pissed off about all the dildos people were sending him and his fellow “patriots” who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in an armed occupation in early 2016? It seemed like men with guns couldn’t get any weirder.
Using a lot of lowercase letters, Bundy writes in a motion filed to U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown, “I, ryan c, man, am an idiot of the ‘Legal Society’; and; am an idiot (layman, outsider) of the ‘Bar Association’; and; i am incompetent; and; am not required by any law to be competent.”
Calling himself a member of the “bundy society” he defines man as “a sacred union between consciousness/spirit, flesh-bone blood and bio-electricity/energy created by that sound of which in the standard written English language is commonly translated as ‘God’ …”
A little further down, he writes, “I am neither “person”, nor “child”, nor “human being” as defined by Black’s Law Dictionary, the unholy bible of the Legal Society.”
Bundy also mixes in some bits from the Declaration of Independence and the Bible.
The long, strange document also claims his home state of Nevada and Oregon are not within the United States and are in fact “sovereign union states” because the jurisdiction of the U.S. is limited to the “District of Columbia, the U.S. Territories and federal enclaves within the states.” He also writes the Malheur refuge is not under U.S. jurisdiction.
In other filings he asks for $1 million dollars in order to accept the “role” of “defendant” or “inmate,” and a million to be judge or bailiff.
Bundy is representing himself in the government’s conspiracy case against him and other occupiers. One of the occupiers, LaVoy Finicum was killed during the occupation's resolution.
We were deeply troubled today when we received the letter below detailing incidents of racism and homophobia towards our friends at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland.
As evidenced by this and the recent cancellation of the Festival of Eugene due to an incident of racism, it's becoming more and more apparent that these are not isloated incidents but evidence of an alarming national trend.
An Open Letter to Our Community
"[I am] a fool who believes that death is waste and love is sweet and that the earth turns and men change every day and that rivers run and that people wanna be better than they are and that flowers smell good and that I hurt terribly today, and that hurt is desperation and desperation is energy and energy can move things."
-Lorraine Hansberry, The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window
Dear Patrons, Supporters and Community Members,
"Inspired by Shakespeare's work and the cultural richness of the United States, we reveal our collective humanity through illuminating interpretations of new and classic plays, deepened by the kaleidoscope of rotating repertory."
This is our mission statement. Today, it feels woefully inadequate, not only in terms of describing what we should be doing as an organization, but also what we are doing. We cannot reveal our collective humanity without addressing the fact that the humanity of a majority of the human race is under attack. This threat is felt by people of color, by the LGBTQ+ community, by women, by people of various faiths, and—as the recent shootings in Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights and Dallas remind us—the law enforcement community can be perceived as both a source of violence and a target for it.
You may have heard by now about the racist verbal assault directed at one of our actors, and about a death threat leveled at another female company member of color only days later. As far too many people in our community have experienced, these are not isolated incidents—they are happening daily in Ashland, and all over our country. They are happening to our Box Office employees, who bear the brunt of racially-charged and homophobic complaints about our approach to casting and season selection. They are happening to our Education staff, who sometimes must weigh their own sense of safety and ability to do their job against their instinct to turn an ignorant comment into a teaching moment.
Social justice is central to our mission. Doing whatever we can to provide a safe and welcoming environment for our company and our patrons is also a central priority. To both those ends, we will not tolerate hate speech or other acts of racism and prejudice on our campus, and we will not be silent when such acts are committed beyond our campus.
We have been inspired by recent OSF company member-driven efforts to address oppression and violence—from enlisting theatres and artists nationwide in the Every 28 Hoursproject, to quickly organizing a community vigil in response to the mass shooting in Orlando, to flying the LGBTQ+ Pride and Black Lives Matter flags over campus and wearing Black Lives Matter t-shirts in the Ashland Fourth of July Parade, to taking flowers to the Ashland Police Department after the tragedy in Dallas.
We express our solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement not to say other lives matter less, but to acknowledge that our society does not treat Black lives as if they matter as much. “We are committed to collectively, lovingly and courageously working vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension all people,” the Black Lives Matter website states among its Guiding Principles. “As we forge our path, we intentionally build and nurture a beloved community that is bonded together through a beautiful struggle that is restorative, not depleting.”
We will continue partnering with other local and national organizations to bring about events like the community gathering on July 2 that packed the Historic Ashland Armory with people willing to try to unpack racism. We will work with the Ashland Police Department, the local business community and our tourism partners to address the bias that people of color encounter here regularly while driving, walking, shopping and dining.
We will continue to choose plays and cast them in ways that reflect the world we live in now, with pride and without apology. We will continue striving to bring greater diversity to our workforce and our audience. We will recognize that we have a long way to go to live up to our goals of equity, diversity, inclusion and justice, and that we don’t and won’t always get it right—but we will keep trying.
We hope you will join us.
Artistic Director Bill Rauch Executive Director Cynthia Rider And the OSF Leadership Team
In response to EW's request for comment, Albert writes:
The Festival has consulted an attorney and we are in the process of issuing a Press Release. Suffice to say these allegations are untrue.
The Festival of Eugene, ran by a dedicated team of volunteers, does not in the past, present nor future discriminate against anyone for any reason; neither race, color, creed, national origin, religious, sexual preference or orientation or political. Nor has it participated in racism, bigotry or any other type of discrimination or hate. The Festival is about celebrating diversity, social tolerance and inclusion of all. For those who have participated in this event in years past know this to be true.
Recent FaceBook posts have subjected our event to speculation and allegations. The recent posts are under review by FaceBook and our FaceBook administrators.
It is always good to keep in mind social media is fertile ground for drama and speculation. The Festival its' reputation to be based on its history, mission and good will to the community at large.
Albert also posted on the Festival of Eugene page (a different page from the event page) saying she didn't write or endorse the comment.
Kelly Asay, publisher of the news website Eugene Daily News has weighed in in Albert's defense, writing that her Facebook page was hacked and Facebook is looking into it.
"Regarding Eugene Daily News's statement that racism would be 'completely out of character' for Festival of Eugene organizer Krysta Albert, we offer this quote from the Register-Guard, May 4, 2016: Reader comment about Donald Trump's visit to Eugene. 'I, for one, and absolutely voting for this man! And I would love to hear him speak! -- Krysta Albert' We're not sure how Ms. Albert expressing avid support for a racist politician translates to 'racism would be completely out of character for Krysta Albert'."
Others have argued that Albert has made similar posts, including longtime Eugene activist Alley Valkyrie who is now in Portland. Valkyrie writes in a public post that "I blocked her after she made very similar racist comments as well as anti-homeless comments on the thread of a mutual friend."
In one Facebook message conversation Albert says it was photoshopped and elsewhere she has posted she was hacked.
Here at Eugene Weekly, we want you to send us pictures of your pets. Cute? Check. Ugly-cute? Check check. Just plain ugly? Yes, please.
Decide which of the following categories fits your pet picture best:
Best action shot
Email email@example.com with your picture attached, and say in the subject line what your pet's name is and which category you're submitting to. The higher the resolution, the better your picture will show up in print. We're looking for file sizes 1 MB or larger, but if all you have is a flip phone camera picture, send it to us anyways. In order for your picture to qualify for the contest, please email it to us by July 22. There is no limit to how many pictures you can send.
After an extremely scientific judging period, we'll publish the winning pictures in our July 28 Pets Issue. It's a win-win proposition: We get to look at cute animal pictures and your beloved pet gets his or her face splashed on the pages of Eugene Weekly for all to see. Ah, prestige.
"The Queensland Outback Barbarians wrap up a North American rugby tour in Springfield when they take on the Eugene Stags this Saturday. This international friendly match has been in the making for over two years. The Barbarians are completing an international tour here in Springfield and are coming off a recent 72-7 victory over the Calgary Canucks. The Stags are excited to test their skills against a high caliber team from a country with a strong rugby history. Attendees are encouraged to wear a jersey of any sort to the match.”
The rugby match takes place 1 pm, Saturday at Agnes Stewart Middle School (South 32nd Street in Springfield). The cost is FREE and a post match social will be hosted at Docs Pad located at 710 Willamette Street in Eugene.
Eugene, Cascades and Coast says, “The Eugene Stags are a Division III rugby club that competes against teams from Oregon, Washington and Idaho. The Stags have been very competitive and completed last season with a top 3 finish in their division.”
Eugene homeowners may see a 7.5 percent increase in their monthly storm water fee starting Aug. 1 and as much as a 27.5 percent increase over the next six years, after the Eugene City Council took a step in that direction at its July 11 meeting.
The motion is an emergency measure to help boost the city’s stormwater reserve funds, which have reached a dangerously low level. Only two weeks of the program’s reserve budget are left.
The City Council’s 5-3 vote is not the final decision on the matter, but instead authorizes city staff to prepare a final resolution for a final vote on whether to increase the fee by 7.5 percent in the next year and an additional four percent each year for the next five years.
As of press time, the council had not yet decided to make the final vote at a work session on July 13 or postpone their vote until the July 25 council meeting. If the motion passes on July 13, Eugene homeowners will see their rates go up on Aug. 1. No public hearing is planned. Eugene homeowners already saw a 13 percent increase in their storm water fee between 2015 and 2015. Small homes currently pay a $8.90 monthly fee. The first year of the proposed fee increase (7.5 percent increase) would raise a small home’s stormwater fee to $9.57; the next five years of increases would raise it to $12.02.
“From 2012 to 2015, we had a deficit in the stormwater fund and we used all the reserves to hold down rate increases,” said councilman Alan Zelenka, who voted for the motion.
The stormwater reserve funds are depleted in part because, over the past 10 years, the city has pushed about $2.5 million in other city services onto the budget of the storm water reserve funds, city engineer Mark Schoening said. Two of those services are the city’s riverbank cleanup program and the street leaf pickup program.
City Councilor George Brown voted against the motion, saying he feels the city is “backfilling” programs like the riverbank cleanup program with money from other programs. He said the city’s Public Works Department paid $250,000 last year to clean up homeless camps along Amazon Creek and the Willamette River; the new fee increase will pay for that service.
Hundreds of people convened on the University of Oregon campus Friday, July 8, to remember the black lives lost to police shootings in the past few days, including Alton Sterling of Louisiana and Philando Castile of Minnesota.
Addressing a crowd gathered in the Erb Memorial Union amphitheater as rain gently fell on attendees, youth pastor Kim McGrew gave a moving speech that focused on action and implementing change in the face of great negativity.
“I need you to remain positive,” McGrew said. “There’s already enough negativity that’s going throughout the nation, and they don’t need to see it on the UO campus.”
McGrew spoke to a solemn, introspective audience as she urged people to act as agents of change. “One thing I want you to be reminded of is that we’re a melting pot,” McGrew said as she gestured around the amphitheater and encouraged people to look at their neighbors. “Every nationality is right here on the UO campus. You can see the world sitting right here, saying, ‘We stand for one. And we stand for all.’”
McGrew shared that she is from Dallas, Texas, and that she knew many of the officers shot the evening of July 7 at a rally in protest of police violence against black people, calling the deaths by sniper “another tragedy.”
In a call to action, McGrew asked people to no longer stay silent or hold their opinions to themselves. “Today, I set a new standard,” she said. “Defy the odds and step up.”
She called on the audience to act as leaders in the community to be a voice of reason, “regardless of the obstacles that may be against you. I need you to view this challenge as an opportunity.”
She condemned further violence and said that this is an opportunity to stand together instead of stand divided.
“Black lives matter,” McGrew said. “White lives matter. Brown lives matter. Everybody’s lives matter today because after last night, everyone can become a statistic. Everyone can be a victim of a senseless act.”
As she finished her speech, she prayed for the group present, for the community and for the nation as a whole, and silence descended on the amphitheater as the people present honored the lives lost to violence.
After that, student activist Nicole Dodier spoke to the crowd, saying, “The longer we continue to be silent about these issues, the more black bodies will be laid to rest. We march here today to be visible, to show the world that we are fed up.”
She said action must be taken to resolve police violence against the black community.
“As I scroll down social media, I see a lot of backlash about our movement, folks saying that all lives matter. However, what many people fail to realize is that all lives cannot matter until the black community matters,” Dodier said. “And we cannot fight these battles alone. We need our allies to speak up and get behind us in leading the change. I find these truths to be self evident that black lives matter.”
At this point, the crowd marched down 13th Avenue through campus, crying out, “Black lives matter!” and “united we stand, divided we fall” while carrying signs.
Members of the crowd held pictures of black citizens slain by police officers and placed them on Hamilton Hall lawn to memorialize them.
At the intersection of Agate and 13th, Black Student Union member Jessica Brown led more rallying cries, and then organizers passed the megaphone to audience members, who shared their thoughts with the crowd.
Kayla Godowa-Tufti, a member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, spoke in solidarity with the black community.
“I feel the grief because they killed us, too,” she said. “They wanted us dead, too. If all of us stand together, there is no way this empire can ever survive. We need to stop the killing. Everyone needs to stop killing each other.”
Last night at a Don't Shoot PDX rally in Portland a counter-protester pulled a gun on people marching to recognize the recent shooting deaths of by police of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling.
Castile and Sterling, both black men in their 30s, were shot by police in Minnesota and Baton Rouge. Sterling's shooting was documented on video and Castile's girlfriend, Lavish Reynolds, posted a video of the aftermath of his shooting saying he had been reaching for his wallet. Reynolds' young daughter was a witness to the shooting, Reynolds ssys in the video.
In Portland, a man The Oregonian has identified as Michael Strickland pulls a gun on several protesters. Freelance journalist (and former EW intern) Mike Bivins caught it on video.
Bivins says in the video that Strickland told him he runs a YouTube channel called Laughing at Liberals.
You can watch Bivins' entire Periscope video here.
Although later in the video you here people chanting "Black lives matter," Black Lives Matter PDX (BLMPDX) clarified on its Facebook page that "the march last night was organized by Don't Shoot PDX. Membership in our organization is open only to Black and African identified folks but there are frequent opportunities for collaboration."
The Oregonian reports that Strickland will be arraigned this afternoon:
"Michael Strickland, 36, is facing misdemeanor menacing and second-degree disorderly conduct charges, according to jail records. He was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center late Thursday night, and then released on his own recognizance, jail and court records show."
Portland activist and former mayoral candidate Jesse Sponberg attempted to defuse the situation and Bivins documents the police detaining Sponberg.
The shootings of Philano Castile and Alton Sterling have us reeling. The killing of black men by police offices continues, despite the outage about Freddy Gray, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice. The shootings of police officers last night in Dallas were another shock. People post the videos and memes on Facebook and ask "What can I do?"
What can we do Eugene/Springfield? How can we change this? The shootings may be in cities far away, but we all know racism happens here, police shootings happen here. Write us your thoughts firstname.lastname@example.org.
And for those of you who want to recognize what happened with others who feel the same, there is a memorial today.
This message was posted by the UO Black Student Union letting people know about a vigil Friday July 8 for the families and communities of Baton Rouge and Minneapolis:
In light of recent police shootings, particularly those of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, we, the Black Student Union, along with the Black Women of Achievement, are holding a memorial tomorrow. We will meet in the amphitheater promptly at 1:45 pm for a moment of silence and prayer. Following, we will march to 13th and Agate to stand in solidarity along the corners, before planting stakes in the Hamilton Hall Lawn. We will give everyone a black bow to wear, hold photos, and plant stakes to represent the countless lives lost under the hands of police officers. If you can, please wear a black shirt.
Please join us to recognize and honor the black lives lost in these tragedies. We also ask that you pass this message on to others who may want to attend. Thank you and we hope to see you tomorrow.
The Eugene-Springfield NAACP adds that, "We at the Eugene/Springfield NAACP stand in solidarity with the families and communities involved," and "Folks are also welcome to leave flowers at the Mims memorial located at 330 High Street."
Mahmud Hafiz travelogue writer and a senior journalist from Bangladesh dropped by EW’s offices recently to talk journalism and the Bangla, aka Bengali, language. Hafiz, a contributing editor to the news portal Bangla News 24 came to Eugene for his son’s graduation from the University of Oregon. He will be writing a travelogue about his experiences.
In addition to discussing journalism, Hafiz came to speak to EWabout Bangla, a language he says, “for which people died.” According to Hafiz, UNESCO declared Feb. 21 as World Language Day “remembering our sacrifice.”
Hafiz explained that when India was divided into India and Pakistan, it was originally divided into East and West Pakistan, united by the Muslim religion but divided by the land mass of India itself. In West Pakistan (now Pakistan) Urdu was spoken but the language of East Pakistan was Bangla.
The Bengali Language Movement arose when the government of West Pakistan attempted to impose Urdu as the state language. On February 21, 1952, five students and political activists were killed during protests near the campus of the University of Dhaka. Hafiz said that each year on that date in Dhaka there is a procession of people wearing black shirts carrying wreaths to commemorate the sacrifice.
Bangla is the official language of what is now Bangladesh and according to Hafiz has more than 300 million speakers around the globe ranging from Bangladesh to India to New York City.
While in Eugene Hafiz presentedEW with an impressionistic painting of a street in Bangladesh. EW will post links to Hafiz’s travelogues when they are available in English.
Journalist Mahmud Hafiz presents EW Editor Camilla Mortensen with a painting from Bangladesh