Portland Council Considers Resolution To Condemn White Supremacy

Mayor Wheeler and Commissioners Eudaly, Fish, Fritz and Hardesty are considering a resolution to condemn white supremacy and alt-right groups in Portland, and for the City of Portland to work with community organizations to develop city-wide training on the history and impact of white supremacy, and how to identify white supremacy.

In 2018, every extremist murder had ties to far-right extremism. According to the Anti-Defamation League, last year was the fourth deadliest year for domestic extremist violence since 1970. Additionally, Portland has a documented history of white supremacist hate groups who have used intimidation and have committed violent repression of individuals in Portland. There’s also been a recent surge of alt-right hate group activity and hostility, which conjures painful memories of the City's past and causes harm to current residents.

“White supremacy is fed by silence and complacency. This is a fundamental recognition that we have to prioritize these issues because our demographic and history skew towards disenfranchising and disempowering communities of color that have been unable to benefit from the City’s progress,” says Mayor Ted Wheeler. “This is not a silver bullet, but I’m hopeful this resolution is the start to meaningful action.”

Both the City of Portland and the State of Oregon have racist governing histories, including Oregon entering the Union as a "whites-only" state," the state’s refusal to ratify the 14th and 15th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and enacting black exclusion laws. In Portland, racist governing policies have created disparities due to redlining, the displacement of black communities through the construction of Interstate 5 and other projects, the failure to protect and preserve Vanport, and a history of bias in government services, including policing, all of which have led to the gentrification and decimation of historically black neighborhoods.

This resolution lays the foundation for the City of Portland to partner with local organizations and community leaders in a collective effort to combat white supremacy.

Portland nonprofits CAIR-Oregon, the Oregon Justice Resource Center and the Western States Center are supportive of the resolution, and will propose six action items for the City to address activity of white nationalist and alt-right groups in Portland. They will hold a press conference on Thursday, Feb. 7 at 4:30 pm at the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, 724 NW Davis St. Representatives of the organizations will make short statements in support of the resolution and outline ideas for ways the City can address this problem.

The resolution is part of a broader effort to ensure access and inclusivity for all Portlanders, and more specifically tailored to the growing threat of white supremacy in the community. With this resolution, the City is signaling its commitment to partnering with community organizations to denounce white supremacy and live up to the City’s values as a welcoming and inclusive city for all Portlanders.

Source: Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler