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Showing posts with label bigotry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bigotry. Show all posts

21 May 2023

Rogue River Family Harassed By Stranger

Incident happened over a flag





 


Pictured above is Charles Messimer, who harassed a Rogue River family about their pride flag. The incident happed on May 17 and was caught on video. Pictures courtesy of Jessica VanDerslice.


Pictures of Charles Jake Messimer at the August 29, 2020 BLM Rally held in Rogue River.

By Brad Smith

ROGUE RIVER, Ore. – A man enraged at the thought of his culture destroyed – by Black Lives Matter, Antifa, the LGBTQ+ community and others – verbally harassed a Rogue River family for having a gay pride flag.

On May 17, at around 4:18 p.m., Charles Messimer was so enraged by a rainbow gay pride flag displayed at a house that he stopped his car, got out and walked into the driveway of Jessica VanDerslice’s home, one she shares with their partner, David Angel Zavala, and their children. The brief exchange between VanDerslice and Messimer was caught on a Ring camera.

“Can I help you?”

On the recording, Messimer cleared his throat and asked, rather gruffly, “What makes you guys think it's right to fly that flag in a conservative town?”

VanDerslice responded that it was her right, adding that if Messimer – someone they had never met before – didn’t leave, the police would be called.

“Call them all you want,” he said calmly. “It’s not acceptable anymore.”

As Messimer left, VanDerslice used her mobile phone to video him as he said the flag represented a “disgusting agenda.”

VanDerslice posted the videos and some pictures of Messimer on their Facebook, their friends soon sharing it as well; one of those friends sent the links to me. I posted the videos as well and, thanks to our mutual friend, had an email exchange with VanDerslice.

VanDerslice and their family lost their Phoenix home during the 2020 Almeda Fire. They said the family lived in hotels for about a month after the fire.

“We found this house and fell in love with the beautiful, quiet community,” VanDerslice told me. “It felt like a place we could heal from losing everything, a place to rest for us and our traumatized children.”

The incident with Messimer reminded them of problems that still exist here in the Rogue Valley area.

“I have faced bigotry before, having slurs yelled at me,” VanDerslice said. “Being an out pansexual openly dating women in the Midwest drew some ire – but I’ve never experienced something like this. As a mixed-race family, we have also dealt with some bigotry there and David has certainly gotten the brunt of that as a Mexican man living in this valley.”

Frustrated, VanDerslice posted to a Rogue River Facebook group.

To VanDerslice and Zavala’s dismay, some people defended Messimer’s actions.

Some of the comments included:

Braeden Michael

Move back to California if you're feelings get hurt that much from someone engaging in conversation.

 

Presley Tiger 

yeah on her property asking questions, very calmly I might add, don't know about all you Californians but going to someone's door to talk out disagreements is how it works in that small town. The guy was very respectful and frankly had every right to ask questions as he is a contributing member of the community as well. It's hilarious to me that y'all can harass, name call, and play the blame game with conservatives in the community but the moment we question your actions, you all of a sudden feel "intimidated". GROW UP. If you are gonna fly controversial flags in a small community be be ready to take the heat just like us conservatives do. That's all.

 

Khara Tiger

Looks like in your gf video, she approached him through the door, if she was scared or felt threatened wouldn't she have not came outside to greet him? He wasn't yelling at all that I heard, and he didn't even park in your driveway. To me he was calm about the situation he was expressing his thoughts about your flag just as you express your thoughts by flying it.

“It was a lot, just dealing with the emotional fallout of course and watching other members of our community standing behind this man made it feel even worse,” VanDerslice says. “Some people dismiss the experience and called flying the pride flag ‘controversial’ which I don’t even understand. It’s upsetting to find that this new community we’ve been building for ourselves post-fire is so full of hate towards us.

“It (made) me feel like I’m just being soft or sensitive when I literally had to deal with hate speech in front of my children on my own property. It’s unfortunate how normalized bigotry is here. My partner is Mexican and I’m sure that doesn’t help either. A mixed-race queer family in their white nationalist conservative community? Shocking!”

However, a number of Rogue River residents leapt to the family’s defense and denounced the blatant display of bigotry. Some offered to show up – armed – if there was more trouble.

“Just call me,” one person commented. “We have enough firepower to occupy Monaco. We’ll be there in a few minutes.”

Others offered to buy more pride flags and signs for the family’s home. Others were working to identify Messimer – whose identity was still unknown at the time.

VanDerslice found solace in those comments and offers.

“I’m so appreciative of the love and support of the part of the community that doesn’t hate us – and don’t want us gone. We’ve posted some signs and will display more flags. We refuse to be run out of town or silenced – and if our flags help a single person not feel alone, it’s worth it.”

VanDerslice said their family “is quiet and tend to keep to themselves.”

“We have yet to meet any of our neighbors. I had a heart attack at the beginning of last year,” they said.  “A community member, Ken Hart, reached out and brought us a care package, easy to prepare food and a blood pressure cuff I needed. We were immensely grateful to have someone in the community reaching out to us.”

They contacted the Rogue River Police Dept. and an officer took a report, as well as copies of the videos and photos. VanDerslice was told night patrols would be increased in the neighborhood.

“I absolutely believe that this was a hate crime, one with great potential for escalation,” VanDerslice said. “Between entering my property armed, yelling at me to ‘get out of Rogue River’ and then the threats over the phone, I think it’s clear this is a hate crime. The police say he didn’t do anything wrong in the original incident but that I could have him trespassed if I could identify him. I am still working with them in the hopes that they will help protect us.

“The first officer I spoke with did sympathize with me and apologized for the community, but also said there wasn’t much he could do – which was frustrating.”

On Friday morning, I received a few anonymous leads regarding VanDerslice’s harasser. Following up on them, I found a business listing under the name of Charles J. Messimer. There was a phone number . . . so, I dialed it up.

“This is Charles.”

Now, I’d listened to the videos several times and I recognized the voice. Still unsure, I told him who I was and asked what he’d be doing that Wednesday afternoon. Instantly, he asked why I had an Antifa symbol on my profile. I guess he found an old profile picture. As I tried to ask a question, he talked over me, saying:

“I want you guys to know. You will not make it out of this. You will not bring your toxicity into our community. I will make sure you guys do not thrive here.”

Messimer was the man who harassed VanDerslice and their family.

It didn’t take long for Messimer’s identity to go viral. A Google page for his business got hit with negative reviews – some calling out his bullying behavior. Which led to another phone call from him. It was similar to the earlier conversation but Messimer went into more detail about how he believed his culture was under assault from Black Lives Matter and Antifa, who were godless Marxists and socialists. The LGBTQ+ community were a threat to children and have “a disgusting agenda,” as he said to VanDerslice.

Messimer’s words, as he soon found out, would haunt him.

His Google-hosted business page was hit with negative reviews – some of them calling out his actions and behavior towards VanDerslice and their family. In at least one social media comment, someone stated that they had work done by Messimer; however, due to what had happened, cancelled future work orders with him.

By sometime Saturday, Messimer’s page was shut down.

“It’s a relief to know who this bigot is, especially as it meant I was able to have him officially trespassed from my property,” VanDerslice said. “I don’t believe it will stop him from escalating, especially after his threats to us and statements that we ‘would not make it out of this’. I fear for my family, I fear for my children. I fear retaliation not just from him but from other members of the community who continue to support him, people who call a flag dedicated to love a ‘controversial symbol.’”

VanDerslice and their family have no plans on leaving Rogue River.

“We’re members of this community whether they want us here or not,” they said. “David was actually recognized at city hall while paying a bill and was handed an application for city council. We’ve always been activists for queer and trans rights and BLM, but this definitely pushes us to be even louder. I want bigots to know they are the ones not welcome here, and more importantly, I want all our LGBTQ+ citizens to feel safer and have more community. 

“We will not back down. We're installing new cameras; we placed a no trespassing sign and we plan on many more rainbows to come.”





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?"




Former cop and his views on the LGBT+ community

  David Cunningham posts his comments regarding the story of a Rogue River family harassed by a bigot. It looks like Cunningham stopped drin...