Jessica Campbell of the Rural Organizing Project spoke to a packed room at Temple Beth Israel on Saturday, May 15, about the many layers of white supremacy and the rise and resistance of white nationalist movements in Oregon.
On that same day a white nationalist group passed out fliers around Eugene advertising for a website called True Cascadia.
Throughout her presentation, Campbell shared stories of rural resistance organizations that came about to oppose militia groups and the attempted organization of an Aryan Nations chapter in eastern Oregon’s John Day.
Patriot groups have what Campbell calls a thinly veiled white nationalist agenda. The militia movement often takes advantage of economically depressed towns, offering a form of infrastructure, and when members move into an area they carry assault rifles. These groups also attempt to force immigrants out of communities.
Campbell says militia groups offer “intentional education” to undermine the U.S. Constitution and often refer to only the first 10 amendments, purposely leaving out amendments that extend and protect equal rights.
Militia groups also rely on conspiracy theories to spread their propaganda and use code phrases like “big banks” to refer to the Jewish community.
But rural organizers throughout Oregon have gathered to take a stand against white supremacy groups — forcing them out by pressuring local media outlets and with peaceful public gatherings.
The group Together for Josephine was a local campaign of farmers, teachers and others who gathered petition signatures and wrote letters to the editor of their local paper, causing the militia to lose its base of support.
The Bundy occupation in Harney County dominated national headlines for months, but while in Burns, Campbell noted a big portion of the story wasn’t being reported: Instances such as when members of the militia attempted to intimidate people at the local Safeway, or when a few days after the occupation began, Campbell says 1,000 people showed up in a town of 8,000 at a meeting.
Campbell says all the hands she could see went up against the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. All of the shops in Burns closed on the day the community organized against the occupation on the steps of the courthouse.
A branch of the Aryan Nations attempted to organize in John Day, but 375 locals showed up and opposed the formation of a national branch of the white supremacy group, according The Oregonian.
Campbell co-authored the study Up in Arms: A Guide to Oregon’s Patriot Movement, which the Rural Organizing Project says is “a report and toolkit designed to support local communities, reporters, public officials, and community activists under siege from or curious about armed militias and other Patriot movement groups.” You can read it at rop.org/up-in-arms.
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