Back in July, local white supremacist Jimmy Marr Tweeted a photo of himself playing the bagpies in the back of a truck he adorns with anti-Semitic, racist and pro-Trump slogans. He also tweeted a photo of himself shaking the hand of a Eugene Police Department officer. Marr's Twitter handle is @GenocideJimmy.
Recently that photo has been ciculating on Twitter and Reddit and creating an outcry with hashtags such as #whodoyouprotect #whodoyouserve and outcry from both local residents and people across the country concerned with the implications of a police officer shaking the hands of a racist.
Marr's racist propoganda and messages like "diversity is white genocide" have placed him in the headlines before and he appears to enjoy the notoriety. Marr's truck and its slogans recently drew national attention with a photo of his "Jew Lies Matter" slur and his more recent: "Trump: Do the white thing."
EW asked EPD about the photo:
Following the recent shootings of police officers across the country, the man in this photo showed up in the parking lot of the police department with his pickup truck playing bagpipes.
One of our officers entered the parking lot and approached the vehicle. From his vantage point the officer did not see the back of the pickup with the comments about Jews. The man reached out to thank the officer for his service. “The officer did exactly what he's supposed to do, which is to respond in a professional and courteous manner to someone who wants to greet them and in return shook the man's hand,” Acting Police Chief Sam Kamkar. Unbeknownst to the officer, another person was in the parking lot and at that instant moment snapped a photograph of the officer shaking hands with the subject.
Drivers on I-5 near Sutherlin have been confronted with the disturbing sight of an effigy of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton dangling from a noose on a crane, surrounded by signs bearing statements like "Vote Trump."
Photo courtesy Scott Beckstead
KVAL news talked to the man from Sutherlin, who mounted the political display:
The man who put it up, Billy Pitner, says Hillary Clinton has committed a crime that he wanted to bring attention to. "I'm allowed to have my feelings, right, wrong, or indifferent,” Pitner said Sunday evening. “Here you are. Got your attention, didn't it?”
Incidents like this as well as the recent sightings of local white supremacist Jimmy Marr driving around the state with signs reading “Trump: Do the White Thing” and other racist statements have made national headlines (and made Oregon look bad). It’s not just us; it’s nationwide. Has voicing hate become acceptable? Don’t just drive by when you see racism. Speak up. Call it out.
According to a press release sent out today from the city of Eugene, it has relached an agreement with popular online home short-term rental site Airbnb on complying with tax laws. The full release is below.
City of Eugene and Airbnb reach home sharing tax agreement
The City of Eugene has reached an agreement with Airbnb for the home sharing website to comply with local tax laws, simplifying the process for Eugene residents who list all or part of their homes as short term rentals. Airbnb is a popular alternative to booking hotel rooms, as many travelers seek new or less expensive ways to experience cities they visit.
Eugene has a transient room tax (TRT) of 4.5% that applies to all overnight stays in the city, including hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals, and short-term rentals. Revenue from the TRT helps fund Eugene’s Cultural Services programs and supports tourism and visitor programs in Eugene. With the new agreement, Airbnb will collect and remit taxes on behalf of hosts, simplifying the process for hosts.
“This agreement will make it easier for Eugeneans to provide this popular form of rental and comply with local rules. It also provides fairness with hotels and other rentals,” says Renee Grube, Executive Director, Eugene Library, Recreation, Cultural Services. “The service benefits the community by helping expand local options for rooms,” she added.
Portland was one of the first cities to make a similar agreement with Airbnb in 2014. Globally, 200 communities have made similar agreements with Airbnb, including Bend and Washington County earlier this year.
Paying the Price for Peacewith S. Brian Willson
A Film and Conversation for the 2016 International Day of Peace
By Jack Dresser and Mariah Leung
Co-directors, Al-Nakba Awareness Project
Eugene takes its peace activism seriously, and a nationally known activist with a compelling story will be visiting Eugene next week on the International Day of Peace, together with a feature-length documentary film about his life. The moral of his story is that yes, it’s risky to challenge ruthless, unprincipled power, but the risks of our obedience are far greater to people elsewhere unprotected by U.S. citizenship.
The film begins in the 1980s as the Reagan administration was covertly supporting Nicaraguan Contras against the socialist government of Daniel Ortega. Not coincidentally, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution in 1981 sponsored by its Central American neighbor, Costa Rica, to establish an International Day of Peace, now commemorated each Sept. 21.
… As the carnage and atrocities in Nicaragua increased with secret administration support of the Contras, circumventing U.S. congressional resolutions from 1982 to 1984 explicitly prohibiting such support, Veterans for Peace was established to oppose these US military interventions as well as the nuclear arms race.
It was at this time that Vietnam War veteran S. Brian Willson, a once-horrified witness to our country’s criminal destruction of innocent peoples and their societies in Southeast Asia, became ignited into activism with recognition of similar U.S.-engineered atrocities in Central America. He traveled to Nicaragua and El Salvador, meeting, talking, witnessing, making friends and losing friends to US-orchestrated violence. He explains simply, “They were my family, and my family members were being killed,” and was moved to take non-violent direct action resisting our government.
This took the form of confrontation with U.S. weapons transfers to Contra terrorists attacking Ortega’s recently established government and to the Salvadoran dictatorship operating School of the Americas-trained death squads against a populist uprising among poor Salvadoran campesinos. Willson joined with other anti-war activists, including fellow veterans, to obstruct government munitions trains shipping arms from the Concord Naval Weapons Station in California to the Contras by blocking the tracks. This would force the trains to stop, disrupt their operation, and draw media attention.
But on Sept. 1, 1987 a government munitions train not only failed to stop but accelerated to three times its legal speed limit and ran over Brian, severing one leg and mangling the other, and inflicting a severe frontal lobe brain injury. Miraculously, he and his cognitive functioning survived.
The day he awoke in the hospital some 900 furious citizens tore up 300 feet of train track and launched a 28-month, 24/7 occupation of the tracks and road, blocking every train and truck shipping munitions. Each shipment was significantly delayed while police removed up to 200 camping demonstrators. Some 2,100 were arrested.
(This, incidentally, begs the question, where is a comparable outrage today as our imperial war machine rolls on, laying waste to the Middle East?)
What the U.S. government did to him, Willson reflects, is what it does to countless others worldwide in its relentless quest for domination and empire. His book, Blood on the Tracks tells the story of Willson’s conventional family upbringing in small town, rural America, two epiphanies he identifies as “irreversible knowledge” that radically changed his life course, and the experiences, readings and reflections leading to an understanding of fundamental human archetypes repressed in the West, his decision that “dignity trumps longevity,” and belief in a horizontal worldview radically different from ours - that “we are not worth more, they are not worth less.”
Based on the book, a feature-length film titled Paying the Price for Peace was produced and directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker Bo Boudart, narrated by Peter Coyote. More than four years in the making, the film includes compelling archival footage and many prominent peace activists and political figures including Daniel Ellsberg, Alice Walker, Martin Sheen, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, Medea Benjamin, Amy Goodman, Chelsea Manning, former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, former U.S. soldier Camila Mejia court-martialed for refusing service in Iraq, Phil Donahue, Bruce Gagnon, former Veterans for Peace president Leah Bolger, Cindy Sheehan, Born on the Fourth of July author Ron Kovic and Col. Ann Wright who resigned from the State Department in protest over the invasion of Iraq.
Willson paid not only with his legs but also with attachment to institutional reward structures of our society, freed in exchange to live directed by awareness, empathy and conscience — essential preconditions for peace within and between people. Were this state of mind to become universal, we would have 365 days of international peace each year.
Co-sponsored by Al-Nakba Awareness Project, Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND) and Veterans for Peace, the film will be screened on 6 pm Wednesday, Sept. 21, at the Campbell Center, 155 High St., followed by Q&A conversation with Brian.
The Obama Administration's statement on Standing Rock, issued Sept. 9, shortly after a federal judge ruled progress on the Dakota Access oil pipeline could proceed, is worth a read in its entirety. From stopping construction, to acknowledging the peaceful protests and First Amendment rights, to recognizing there needs to be "nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure project," this is impressive.
Joint Statement from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior Regarding Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
The Department of Justice, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior issued the following statement regarding Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:
“We appreciate the District Court’s opinion on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act. However, important issues raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribal nations and their members regarding the Dakota Access pipeline specifically, and pipeline-related decision-making generally, remain. Therefore, the Department of the Army, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior will take the following steps.
The Army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws. Therefore, construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time. The Army will move expeditiously to make this determination, as everyone involved — including the pipeline company and its workers — deserves a clear and timely resolution. In the interim, we request that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.
“Furthermore, this case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects. Therefore, this fall, we will invite tribes to formal, government-to-government consultations on two questions: (1) within the existing statutory framework, what should the federal government do to better ensure meaningful tribal input into infrastructure-related reviews and decisions and the protection of tribal lands, resources, and treaty rights; and (2) should new legislation be proposed to Congress to alter that statutory framework and promote those goals.
“Finally, we fully support the rights of all Americans to assemble and speak freely. We urge everyone involved in protest or pipeline activities to adhere to the principles of nonviolence. Of course, anyone who commits violent or destructive acts may face criminal sanctions from federal, tribal, state, or local authorities. The Departments of Justice and the Interior will continue to deploy resources to North Dakota to help state, local, and tribal authorities, and the communities they serve, better communicate, defuse tensions, support peaceful protest, and maintain public safety.
“In recent days, we have seen thousands of demonstrators come together peacefully, with support from scores of sovereign tribal governments, to exercise their First Amendment rights and to voice heartfelt concerns about the environment and historic, sacred sites. It is now incumbent on all of us to develop a path forward that serves the broadest public interest.”
Serena Markstrom talks to the press after being fired by The Register-Guard in 2014.
In the wake of Serena Markstrom Nugent's civil lawsuit against The Register-Guard for firing her after she checked emails while on pregnancy disability leave, it appears that the R-G might be considering cutting some employees that were involved in the case.
EW has heard from several credible sources that Eugene Newspaper Guild union co-president Randi Bjornstad and programmers Joe Clark and Horst Lueck, both in information systems, have been placed on administrative leave.
Bjornstad in her position as union president supported Markstrom Nugent and gave her advice on deleting emails and other issues and testified during the trial.
According to court documents, when Markstrom Nugent was unable to access her email from home while on leave, Clark reset her usename and password. In her email to Clark Markstrom Nugent said she wanted to save emails for "personal reflection" on her career.
Also in the court documents, Markstrom Nugent refers to getting advice from Lueck on exporting her email account.
Markstrom Nugent, a longtime R-G entertainment reporter was suddenly switched to a hard news beat in 2012. In previous interviews she told EW that three weeks after announcing she was pregnant, she was told she needed coaching on her writing. The R-G then set up a performance improvement plan, a tactic that has been used by other news agencies to try to get rid of older journalists.
Markstrom Nugent filed a lawsuit in August 2015 and according to her complaint, editor Ilene Aleshire told Markstrom that she could not "do any work, including checking emails and voicemails," while she was on disability leave. However, Markstrom's complaint says she understood this to mean that she could not work — which might include checking work-related emails and voicemails. “She did not understand this to be a total prohibition against accessing her email account for personal matters.”
Markstrom Nugent was seeking $125,000 in non-economic losses as well as back pay from day she was fired, March 24, 2014, until Aug. 23.
If employees are fired, this won't be the first time the R-G has severed relationships with those who supported Markstrom Nugent. When was fired, former R-G arts writer Bob Keefer rounded up support for a well-wishing for the pregnant journalist. Keefer, who now runs a popular art blog, Eugene Art Talk, was freelancing for the R-G. He was told "We won't be needing your freelance services anymore.”
A jury heard arguments in Lane County Circuit Court for six days starting Aug. 23, however Judge Josephine Mooney dismissed the case on Aug. 31 based on Markstrom Nugent having deleted emails, which Mooney called destruction of evidence.
The Lane County Board of Commissioners voted 5-0 today, Aug. 30, to call a six-month halt on its efforts to change its initiative petition process, Commissioner Pete Sorenson tells EW.
The iniative petition process allows the public to collect signatures and get measures on the ballots, such as efforts to ban aerial sprays of pesticides or genetically modified crops.
Back in June, the Lane County Commission began to mill over giving itself the authority to block any countywide ballot measures that it decided was not “of county concern,” before they go to voters or the courts. The proposal was at the behest of conservative local political activist Dennis Morgan. Commissioners Jay Bozievich and Faye Stewart spoke of the effort to block public initiatives as cost saving.
In a media release, Sorenson, who was against the effort to block iniative petitons, writes that in response to his repeated requests to stop work on ordinances to change the initiative petition process, the board agreed today to cease work on the process. He says, “Although this is temporary, it looks like the board decided that this change right now isn’t going to be a good idea. To me, this has always been about — in basketball terms — changing the height of the basket in the middle of a basketball game.”
Ann Kneeland, attorney with Community Rights Lane County, which has been vigorously fighting the board's efforts to block the initiative petitions, noted previously that an ironic aspect of the proposed ordinance is that the county commission is targeting Community Rights initiatives that seek to create greater legal authority for citizens to protect themselves from corporate harms.
Sorenson continues, "I’ll be on the alert for any further proposals to interfere with the rights of Lane County residents to change their laws by initiative petition."
The media release notes that, "This is a rare win for Sorenson, a progressive, who is frequently at odds with the conservative board majority."
Kneeland tells EW:
I would like to commend the Lane County Commissioners for unanimously voting on the side of the people of Lane County instead of for corporate interests. There is more at issue here than the popularity, costs, or even constitutionality of individual initiatives. Rather, our rights to direct democracy and free speech are at stake, including our right to circulate petitions, engage in political discourse, and vote on proposed laws. No government official should have the power to obstruct these core democratic activities.
I believe our community will remain vigilant to protect the People's initiative and referendum powers from any further assault from corporate interests.
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.