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31 January 2021

Medford bar proud of its racist sign UPDATED: Trophy Club issues 'non-apology,' plays victim card

This is the picture Ken Narasaki took as he drove by Medford's Trophy Club Bar & Grill. When he attempted to contact the owner, Narasaki was greeted with offensive remarks.

By Brad Smith

MEDFORD, Ore. -- On Monday, the Trophy Club took down its racist message and issued what some considered to be a "non-apology apology."

Then, the bar owners claimed they were victims of alleged death threats.

And, as of late Tuesday morning, the Trophy Club's Facebook page was taken down.

A few days ago, as he drove by the Trophy Club Bar & Grill, Ken Narasaki said he was "angered and shocked" by what he saw: The electronic sign proclaimed China Virus Hrs.

"It was very upsetting," he said. "Ever since the pandemic, Asian-Americans have been the brunt of racist attacks. It's ugly and wrong. What the hell is wrong with people?"

Narasaki said he nearly went inside the Trophy Club to speak with the owner.

"Then, I realized it could spiral out of control and there would be problems," he said. "So, I went home and figured a phone call would be best."

It wasn't.

When Narasaki called the Medford bar, located at 812 S. Central Ave., a female employee answered the phone. According to him, as he explained the situation and how "China Virus" was a racist slur, the employee hung up.

He called the bar again and, this time, a man answered.

"The guy used a terrible Asian accent and said, 'Hong Kong Chopstick Factory. Why don't you suck my fat white rod?'" Narasaki claimed. "It was very offensive but this guy thought he was funny."

The Rogue Free Press called the Trophy Club and after speaking with some female employees, spoke with a Brett Howard, after being initially blocked by an answering service. Howard said the sign wasn't racist and then launched into a series of personal attacks -- female employees could be heard giggling as he did so.

"Are you a moron," he said at one point. "Are you from around here? Are you even fucking married?"

Across social media, mainly Facebook and Yelp, the Trophy Club was slammed with complaints and negative reviews. Yelp finally locked down the bar's page until it could assess all of the negative postings.

Ambar Rodriguez, a reporter from CBS affiliate KTVL Channel 10, spoke with the other owner, Lori Fudge Howard, who issued this following statement:

"We are not and never have been racist, nor have our employees. The sign was not intended to be racist. It was to make light out of the situation we all have been going through for the past year. We apologize to whoever we offended. That was not our intention."

Narasaki called it a "non-apology."

"It's not an apology, I feel," he said. "I said that in my interview with the TV station. It's a 'non-apology apology.' No remorse, no honesty. None."

Rodriguez then reported the Howards took down the racist message due to alleged "death threats" they had received. Rodriguez said Lori Howard claimed that the bar had received telephonic threats. It's still uncertain if the Howards filed a report with the Medford Police Dept.

"So, they didn't take down the message because it was the right thing to do," one person opined on Facebook. "They took it down because of supposed death threats. They played the victim card."

This isn't the first case of anti Asian sentiment during the pandemic here in the Rogue Valley. Joe McPherson, who operates the Double R Pub in Rogue River, has made social media posts about "the Kung Flu" a number of times. Then again, given Rogue River's history of racism, no locals took issue with it. Recently, Grant Pass' Gold Miner Restaurant has advertised "China Virus" lunch specials for some time.

According to a September 2020 report issued by the Stop AAPI Hate Youth Campaign, a high school internship program at Stop AAPI Hate, a national center that collects reports of coronavirus discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, nearly 8 of 10 respondents expressed anger over the epidemic of hate against Asians as the pandemic went on. The data came from nearly 1,000 interviews of Asian American young adults conducted by a team of 87 Asian American high school students last summer.

According to NBC News, such cases were:
  • A 14-year-old student in Dallas was followed home by a group of high school boys who pretended to cough on him and shouted, "Ching chong! You have Chinese virus!"
  • A 17-year-old was told over social media that their "insides are full of 'fucking bats" and that they should kill themselves because they are a "dirty fucking dog eater."
  • An 18-year-old who was grocery shopping was called "chink" and told to go back where they came from.
It didn't help that Donald Trump kept using the term "China Virus" and emboldened his racist follows to do the same. According to Associated Press, there was a surge of racist social media memes that portrayed the Chinese as "bat eaters" responsible for spreading the virus and revived century-old tropes about Asian food being unclean and unhealthy.

Stop AAPI Hate reported last August that it had received more than 2,500 reports of hate and discrimination across the country since the group was founded in March, around the time the outbreak began to seriously worsen in the U.S. The group said it received data from 47 states, with 46 percent of the incidents taking place in California, followed by 14 percent in New York, AP also reported.

"I grew up in Washington state," Narasaki said. "I've dealt with racism before -- so, this isn't new to me. Being an actor in Seattle during the '70s and '80s, hell there was a lot of racism within the theater community. Now, there's this."

Narasaki has lived in Los Angeles the last several years but his girlfriend resides in the area. Since the pandemic, he's been spending a lot of time in southern Oregon.

"I love it here, I really do," he said. "And, I've met a many great, friendly and kind people. The scenery is something I've fallen in love with and I do feel at home here.

"But, the other day, I was reminded that there's still some ugliness in the world."

Narasaki shared his experience on social media and already the Trophy Club has been hit with negative comments on Yelp. Plus, there are early comments talking about previous examples of racism at the bar. The business' Facebook page has garnered negative reviews too.

In typical fashion, Trophy Club defenders have said there's no racism involved and everything has been blown out of proportion. Of course, many who are defending Howard and the Trophy Club are -- not surprisingly -- white. People have been quick to point out about the Spanish Flu pandemic, which broke out over a century ago. However, the "Spanish Flu" was a H1N1 virus that had genes of avian origin -- and it was first reported at an army base in Kansas. Fort Riley, to be exact, and it happened on March 11, 1918. It never originated in Spain.

But, let's be blunt: Given Brett Howard's interactions with the public and press about this, it's clear that he's fine with promoting a racist slur and sees no wrong with it. The reality is that Donald Trump didn't turn a large number of our follow Americans into rabid, hatemongering bullies and white nationalists.

He didn't.

Trump enabled them, emboldened them. For years, they lurked in the shadows and were afraid to announce and embrace their views. As president, Trump gave them the okay to be bigots and intolerant towards others.

What's happening now is going to be with the American people for a long time. No, it's not right. However, people can still take a stand against it.

Narasaki said he's received support from many after his initial post and many have said they will call the Trophy Club and complain.

"I hope people will take notice and take action," he said. "This isn't right. We're Americans and we should be better than this. You don't treat people like this. That's not who we are."

Here is Narasaki's post on Yelp:

Yelp took down my review of Trophy Club and their racist marquee because "it was not clear" that it was my "firsthand experience". Who the hell do you think took the photo of their marquee? And when a business writes a racist statement on their marquee, I think it's "firsthand experience" when you see it, which is sort of the point of a marquee.

Yelp also took down about a half-dozen other reviews complaining about that sign. Why? Yelp, are you in favor of protecting public racist sentiments?

I'm going to repost this because my experience does qualify as "first-hand experience":

I drove by this marquee on January 27, 2021, that crows "China Virus Hours".

A sign that proves that racism is alive and sick in Medford, Oregon.

This is not just "hurt feelings". I know from my own personal experience and from the experience of many of my Asian American friends, not to mention countless news articles, that Trump's (and others') use of the racist term "China Virus" led directly to hatred, open hostility, and violence against Asians and Asian Americans (racists never know the difference). People have been beaten, have had acid thrown in their faces, and have been spit on by people like this bar owner/manager.

Unless you're a white supremacist or think that maybe white supremacists might have a point, I suggest you not go here. Better yet, call (541) 772-4131 and tell them what you think of their sign.

Medfordians, do you want people to think that this is okay here?

ps: A quick check of their other Yelp reviews will show that this racist sign is no accident.

PPS: I called and tried to explain why "China Virus" was a racist term and the woman who answered simply hung up on me. When I called back, a guy answered in a mock Chinese accent: "Hong Kong Chopstick Factory. Why don't you suck my fat white rod?"

03 January 2021

Allegedly 'abusive' landlady taking hits on social media, food truck business targeted

The booking mug after Melissa "MJ" Jones-Hanscom was arrested for a 2016 incident at an Ashland bar. As she was being booked, she spat blood on a corrections deputy.

On Oct. 25. 2016, she was arrested after punching a man at Ashland’s Oberon Restaurant and Bar. As she was being booked into the Jackson County Jail, Jones-Hanscom allegedly spat blood on a corrections deputy. She was charged with a felony charge of aggravated harassment against the deputy along with misdemeanor charges of fourth-degree assault and harassment for allegedly punching the Oberon patron.

Prior to that, court records show Jones-Hanscom’s past convictions include driving under the influence of intoxicants three times, refusing to take a test for intoxicants twice, driving with a suspended license twice, resisting arrest, reckless driving and interfering with a peace, parole or probation officer.

Now, she's under fire again.

 In the wake of attempting to evict a domestic abuse survivor during a pandemic and winter storms about to roll in, Melissa "MJ" Jones-Hanscom was the brunt of social media scorn Saturday. A page promoting her food truck business was reportedly shutdown after critics slammed it with negative comments.

"They weren't fans, friends or family," she said. "I don't know who they are. I never dealt with them."

Well. MJ Jones must have an incredible eidetic memory if she can remember the face and name of every single person she served over the years at her food truck. 

A number of her now former patrons contacted the RFP and have said they will never go back to Jones-Hanscom's food truck.

"I always thought she was a twisted bitch," one of them said, on the condition of remaining anonymous -- out of concerns for their safety. "I'll never support her business after this. You don't treat people like this."

On Saturday, Jones-Hanscom issued a rambling "statement" in which she told her side of the issue: In short, Woods is lying about her health issues, she needs the extra income from a tenant to make ends meet and they want to turn the spare room, the rental for extra revenue, into a "family game room."

Evidently, the finances aren't that bad for Jones-Hanscom and her family.

In her social media exchanges, Jones-Hanscom repeatedly told critics that they could take in Woods as a tenant.

Yes. She said that.

Meantime, Jones-Hanscom still refuses to restore the studio's power even as it's getting colder and more storms are moving in.

Here are some screenshots taken from Jones-Hanscom's Facebook page on 2 Jan. 2021.

01 January 2021

Medford landlady tries to evict domestic abuse survivor, shuts off power

As temperatures fall with storms rolling in, a Medford landlady has cut off a woman’s power as well as tearing a hole in one of her walls. – Picture by Eve Woods


By Brad Smith

MEDFORD, Ore. – Eve Woods left Washington to get away from one nightmarish situation – and has found herself in another one.

According to Woods, a domestic violence survivor, she came to the Rogue Valley because she “felt safe.”

“I lived in my car for a while,” she said. “I was at the Dunn House shelter for some time. Meanwhile, I was trying to get a job and start my life over. It was very daunting.”

Things started to fall into place. Woods secured a seasonal job at Harry and David. Along the way, Woods said someone introduced her to Melissa “MJ” Jones-Hanscom.

“MJ seemed very warm and friendly,” she said. “She knew my situation and offered me a small studio apartment – they walled up a section of her house and turned it into a small apartment. I had my own entrance, bathroom and small kitchen. It was perfect for me.”

Dunn House, Community Works and others helped with the initial first and last month rent along with security deposits. She moved in on Oct. 2 last year and it was “very exciting” to do so.

“It felt like things were looking up for me,” she said.

Covid-19 hit and businesses like Harry and David shifted the operations to accommodate their workers, letting them work from home. However, Woods still came down with the virus and had to be quarantined. Then she lost her Internet access.

“I tried to get my own Internet but the companies said they wouldn’t do it,” Woods said. “So, I did talk to MJ. She let me use it for a while and then they shut off my access. I told MJ that I needed the Internet for my job – no job, no paycheck, no rent. She said she didn’t care. She said ‘it wasn’t her problem.”

By that point, Woods said her relationship with Jones-Hanscom and her family was already deteriorating.

“There were a lot of issues, a lot of family issues,” she said. “In that house, there’s MJ, her partner DJ and four kids. I’m from a large family myself – but things got out of hand.”

Woods claimed one of the kids would “consistently play with their skateboard,” causing loud noises and shaking the walls so much that pictures and other things fell.

“There were a number of disturbances,” she alleged. “The kids fighting with one another or the parents and I’ve had to call the cops a few times.”

Woods felt the “hostile environment” was getting worse by the day.

“With all of the fighting, yelling, screaming – I wasn’t feeling comfortable here,” she said. “I was reaching out to various groups to help with rent and I’m still dealing with the Covid-19 after effects. My unemployment finally kicked in but I have so many other bills to pay. It’s very hard to juggle everything.”

Woods has paid rent in November and provided screenshots for documentation. She has reached out for financial assistance and is still looking for another place to live.

Meantime, her relationship with Jones-Hanscom has worsened. Even though Woods has a signed rental agreement with Jones-Hanscom, the latter has called her tenant “a squatter” and “couch surfer” in text messages. And while Woods has filed the necessary paperwork required for the state’s eviction moratorium, Jones-Hanscom has pressed on with the eviction.

On Thursday, Jones-Hanscom’s partner and others cut a large hole in the wall between Woods’ studio and the main house. Then, she had the studio’s power shut off and the fuse box padlocked.

Jesse Sharpe with the Community Alliance of Tenants said a generator was left with Woods so she could have power. Another volunteer stopped by and placed some plywood over the hole in the wall.

“We’re doing everything we can but the offices we need to deal with – they’re closed over the holiday weekend,” he said. “We’ve recorded some videos of Eve’s interactions with MJ. We saw her last night and she was hostile,” he alleged.

The Rogue Free Press contacted Jones-Hanscom Friday afternoon. Her response was: “A reporter? Oh, Christ. Can I call you back later?”

She hasn’t responded to texts – especially one asking if the power would be restored as storms are to be hitting the Rogue Valley over the weekend and temperatures are supposed to drop.

No response at all.

Jones-Hanscom has a history of several run-ins with law enforcement.

On Oct. 25. 2016, she was arrested after punching a man at Ashland’s Oberon Restaurant and Bar. As she was being booked into the Jackson County Jail, Jones-Hanscom allegedly spat blood on a corrections deputy. She was charged with a felony charge of aggravated harassment against the deputy along with misdemeanor charges of fourth-degree assault and harassment for allegedly punching the Oberon patron.

Prior to that, court records show Jones-Hanscom’s past convictions include driving under the influence of intoxicants three times, refusing to take a test for intoxicants twice, driving with a suspended license twice, resisting arrest, reckless driving and interfering with a peace, parole or probation officer.

Sharpe said there are no court records of Jones-Hanscom filing eviction papers against Woods.



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