SOEquity changed plans after threats from RR racists
By Brad Smith
ROGUE RIVER, Ore. -- The location of Saturday's ‘You Are Enough’ event has been changed due to concerns over safety.
Southern Oregon Coalition for Racial Equality (SOEquity) vice-president Dominique Toyer said the Aug. 29 march and event was meant to promote racial justice and equity. The plan was to have participants meet at the Rogue River city hall offices on Broadway Street around 10 a.m. The plan was to have the march move through town and finish at Palmerton Park, she said.
“From the very beginning, it was planned to be peaceful and focusing on how racism affects children and young people of color in rural towns,” Toyer said. “After the march, we planned for a barbeque and an open mic available for anyone wanting to share their experiences. A family-friendly event shedding light on racism in smaller towns. The reality is that small, rural towns often have less diversity than bigger cities and racism is prevalent.”
Earlier this month, Toyer addressed the Rogue River city council about the issue of racism in their community.
Rogue River does have a problem. For example:
Joe McPherson is a business owner, The Double R Pub. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, McPherson has made a number of racial slurs such as “Kung Flu” or the “Asian Flu” on social media. He doubles down when confronted and others -- mainly Rogue River residents -- have defended him and repeated the very same slurs. Most echoed terms used by Trump.
During a 2016 9/11 ceremony held by VFW Post 4116, now deceased member Chuck Spark said that if anyone took a knee during the event, there would be “trouble.” Especially if they acted like that "Black SOB Colin Kaepernick." During a conversation with Mark Poling -- VFW member and city councilor -- Kaepernick’s name was mentioned. Another VFW member overheard the conversation and said, “Kaepernick -- where’s the goddamned KKK when you need them the most?” Poling said nothing and laughed.
*Diane Hawkins (name has been changed) said she was invited to have dinner with friends at the VFW. “This was when President Obama was in office. People were repeatedly saying the N-word, others talked about lynching (Obama) like they did to Blacks a long time ago and said a cross should be burned on the White House lawn. It was disgusting. I’ve never been back there. Filthy bigots.”
Michael Vieira, a Rogue River resident, made social media comments on how no one is allowed to criticize “the Zionist Jews” and people like Mel Gibson have to apologize or else never work again.
During a Rogue River planning commission meeting years ago, someone preparing a PowerPoint turned on her laptop and there was an image of her son on it, next to his bike. A Japanese motorcycle. One of the commissioners said, “Get rid of that goddamned Jap rice rocket.” Most laughed but no one rebuked the commissioner.
For many years, a Rogue River church used its ad space in the Rogue River Press to run anti-Islamic diatribes. The congregation members never complained about the adverts nor did the readers. They continued until the pastor died.
Rogue River has a serious problem.
Which became evident as news of “You Are Enough” hit local social media. Residents like Steve Elyes and Emil Merusi railed that there would be “burning and looting.” Merusi joked about hitting people with a pickup and “healthcare worker” Penny Tolman posted an “All Lives Splatter” picture. Brian Campbell threatened in posts about showing up with weapons and wanted others to join him.
“I’m making potato salad and marinade for the meat. This is a family friendly event, it’s not some armed invasion. This is very frustrating,” Toyer said during a Facebook video post. “What the hell is wrong with some people? This is something for everyone and it's peaceful. That's all it is.”
Toyer said the city was very helpful throughout the permitting process. However, when Toyer and others dropped off the paperwork, they learned that others had rented areas of the park needed for the event.
“We decided to give it a try, staying at Palmerton,” she said. “But, the threats were still posting all across Facebook. Everyone in my group was bringing food. These assholes were bringing guns and threatening us. But, lately, that’s been the case.”
Medford. Coos Bay. Cave Junction. Medford again. Peaceful protesters have been met with hostility from right-wing extremists, so-called “patriots.” “Patriots” who stand side by side, shoulder to shoulder, with violent neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers such as Keith "Biome Michael" Erickson and Greg Marchese. It would seem that Southern Oregon's “patriots” are fine with neo-Nazis among their ranks.
That’s Trump's America. He said the right wing extremists in Charlottesville were very fine people -- even when one of them killed an innocent woman. Trump urged right wing extremists to “take back their states” after a number of governors initiated lockdown protocols when he failed to take action during the Covid-19 pandemic. He also used racist slurs regarding the virus -- something that local business owner Joe McPherson and other residents have done on social media.
And, they think it’s funny.
People in Rogue River are, well, brazenly racist and stupid about this event.
The local newspaper, The Rogue River Press, did an article on the event. An Amy Blair responded with this bizarre rant:
Ok I have a problem with your soequity article you say "she said that all of the people involved in the rally are from southern oregon, and none of will have a connection to either activities associated with Black Lives Matter in Portland or a rally in cave junction " if you visit their webpage they clearly tout themselves as Black Lives Matter.. it's on their homepage and they provide a white reading list... seems to me that this article makes it appear that this group has no ties to the BLM when clearly they do.
I'm just letting you know that your source provided you misleading information. Clearly on their page they are in support for the group. I'll be talking to our local police today to find out what their plans are as cities have been burned in the name if this group. I agree they are welcome to march or whatever because we are a welcoming community. But they shouldn't be providing misleading information regarding their affiliation. Smh.
As SOEquity prepares to move the event to another Rogue River location, Toyer said she’s not surprised nor disappointed.
“All those threats and other nasty comments we’ve received this past week -- it proved my point,” she said. “Rogue River has a serious racism problem and we’re continuing our work, opening dialogues with Southern Oregon communities. Educating. Forging an understanding between everyone. The racists in Rogue River haven’t stopped us. Not one bit.”