White Supremacy Must Be Denounced & Addressed Proportionately in the City Of Salem

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The Proud Boys have been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). According to the SPLC’s designation, the Proud Boys “are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric,” and they “regularly spout white nationalist memes.” When members of this group march in our city — and when they openly carry large guns and verbally or physically assault those who disagree with them, as they have during their Salem events — it makes everyone feel unsafe. We understand and support the First Amendment right to free speech. 
However, the Proud Boys’ (and other white nationalist groups like them such as T.A.P.S., American Wolf, III%, and Patriot Prayer) have displayed actions and rhetoric that are hateful, dangerous, and often criminal. Particularly, toward Black and other people of color in our city. If we do not tell or show them that they are not welcome here, they will continue to march and hold events in our city because they see us as a non-threatening, even welcoming space. This is especially true when our police stand by and do nothing to hold them accountable unless it is our wealthy white community or law makers being impacted. 

We hear new stories almost daily of how people of color in our city feel unsafe or are attacked by people spouting racist or white supremacist rhetoric. These stories are not made up. Just ask the family of Herman Graham III, who was murdered in October in a hate crime. These incidents cause new traumas and fear for all of our Black residents. By publicly denouncing white nationalism, racism, and white supremacy, you send a clear message to our citizens and the rest of Oregon that you believe residents of color, you support them, and you will not tolerate actions against them. It’s not enough to silently support people of color. You must publicly show your support and make it clear that racism and hate are not welcome in our city. 

In the recent weeks you have made inference to the fact that this behavior is not acceptable but only Trevor Womack has acknowledged or used the words "White Supremacy" while still showing biased implementation of enforcement. Your community has watched you play favorites long enough. We are extremely fatigued by the effort that it has taken to get even nominal recognition of the white nationalist foothold that YOU have allowed to take root in our city. We are the Capitol and if we do not stand for what is right and do it right now, Oregon is doomed to continue its racist history of division and discord with communities of color. Our history speaks for itself. We cannot remain a white utopia where racists, white nationalists, and other entities believe they have more rights than anyone else. 

Your community is asking you to create a public campaign denouncing white supremacy. Your community is asking you to hold white nationalist accountable in the same way, with comparable force as you have those protesting for racial equity. We are asking you to arrest and prosecute those who have assaulted women, people of color, members of the press, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. We are not backing down. We will not go away. We will not continue to be ignored. Your silence has continued violence in our community.