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06 December 2020

Local hate group crawls out of the cyberspace cesspool



 The local hate group RV Saltshakers ended their social media exile last month. The SS Facebook page went dark in the wake of hatemongering leader Jon Clement and failed street preacher Ryan Clark were arrested after recklessly firing shotguns from a boat last October. Grants Pass cops nicked the pair after people in nearby parks claimed birdshot flew over their heads.

As reported, Clark took a plea deal and will serve ten days in custody, either jail or house arrest. He also got  18 months unsupervised probation and had to surrender his shotgun. Clement is in court on Dec. 14.

Clark and convicted child abuser Trevor Emptage will, no doubt, continue to harass innocent people and spread the Saltshakers' message of hate.

It's a shame that Anonymous or other hacktivists haven't taken action.

Yet.


Hate group member in court, pleads no contest on weapons charge


 
Ryan Clark, member of the hate group RV Salt Shakers, was in court last week on weapons charges.

By Brad Smith

GRANTS PASS, Ore. – Ryan Clark, a supposed minister and member of the hate group known as the RV Salt Shakers, pleaded no contest to weapons charges last week.

According to records, Clark, 43, appeared in court on Dec. 2. and made his plea on the charges of unlawful use of a weapon. He was sentenced to ten days in custody – which could be served either at home or in jail – and placed on 18 months unsupervised probation. He also had to surrender his shotgun. In a plea agreement, additional charges of reckless endangerment were dismissed.

Clark and Jon Clement, 61, were arrested on Oct. 26 by Grants Pass police after the pair were allegedly shooting at birds from a pontoon boat drifting down the Rogue River. According to press releases, the two men fired shotguns as their boat drifted near both Tussing and Reinhart Volunteer Parks. Some witnesses reported they heard pellets pass overhead.

Clement and Clark were taken into custody sometime after 5 p.m. and were booked into the Josephine County Jail. Both were charged with unlawful use of a weapon and reckless endangerment.

Clement is the leader of RV Salt Shakers, a hate group that’s operated throughout southern Oregon for the last few years. Clark is allegedly a member as well. The Salt Shakers have been known to picket area Planned Parenthood clinics and harass patients and others using PP services. The Shakers have also been a nuisance at many local events, ranging from Pear Blossom to Ashland’s holiday parade. A number of groups have taken measures to bar the Salt Shakers from their events. They have also targeted the LGBTQ and immigrant communities.

Clement’s group has been accused of using fear tactics and even intimidation.

“(Fear tactics) are sometimes necessary to further our message,” he said in 2019. “If it helps our cause, we’ll do it.”

Word of Clement and Clark’s arrests spread like wildfire through social media and it wasn’t long before the group’s page was hit by trolling.

Clement is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 14.

Convicted child abuser Trevor Emptage is a member of the hate group as well. It’s still not known if a criminal record is a prerequisite for RV Salt Shaker membership.

As of press time, the RV Salt Shakers page, one of them, is up on social media. For how long is not known.


03 December 2020

Vigil held for Ellison, FBI now involved


 By Brad Smith

MEDFORD, Ore. – Over 200 people gathered at the Jackson County Courthouse for a Wednesday vigil for Aidan Ellison, a young Black man who was shot in Ashland on Nov. 23.

Southern Oregon Coalition for Racial Equity (SOEquity) the Rogue Action Center and other local racial/social groups helped put the vigil together. Kayla Wade, SOEquity’s founder, was among the speakers.

“We’re here because a white man thought that a young Black kid just expressing himself and listening to music and decompressing was unacceptable and needed to be dealt with,” she said. “We’re here because every person of color, every Black person in this community, has experienced something like that: Having a white person decide that how we’re living our lives is unacceptable and that we need to tone it down or need to be silenced. If we want to live in a world where we can exist with dignity, something has to change.”

As previously reported, on Nov. 23, Keegan allegedly shot and killed Ellison. The victim was reportedly in the Ashland's Stratford Inn parking lot and listening to music. Cops said that Keegan was not happy about the loud music and – armed with a concealed handgun – went outside to confront Ellison. An argument ensued and Ellison was shot. Keegan was taken into custody and charged with second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, unlawful possession of a firearm (Keegan didn't have a concealed weapon permit) and recklessly endangering another person. 

Court records added a few details to the incident. Keegan was reportedly awakened by loud music this happened at around 4 a.m. He told police that he got dressed, put the gun in his jacket pocket, and went to the front desk. An employee then went out to the parking lot and spoke with Ellison. As they were talked, Keegan went outside and then confronted the young man. That is how the argument started.

Keegan claimed that Ellison hit him in the face a number of times. However, the autopsy indicated that Ellison’s hands lacked bruising or marks consistent with a physical assault. And Keegan’s face wasn’t bruised or marked.

Keegan is still being held at the Jackson County and no bail has been set. His next court date is Feb. 22, 2021.

Ellison’s death sparked outrage throughout the Southern Oregon area and ire at some local media outlets. CBS affiliate KTVL 10 went into detail about Keegan’s alleged plight as someone displaced by September’s Almeda Fire while very little was said about the victim. Meantime, Ellison’s family, living in Klamath Falls, have been targeted by harassment from local white supremacists and even some law enforcement, Clarence Carr claimed.

“It’s been very hard for them and they’re getting by,” he said. “It’s a day by day thing. No one should have to go through this shit.”

A number of people from the BIPOC community spoke during the vigil, sharing their experiences with racism here in the Rogue Valley. As Carr noted, many came here hoping they could avoid it.

“But no matter what, it’s here and we need to do something about it.”

As some local media outlets published articles about the vigil on social media, racism did rear its ugly head from time to time. It got so bad that in one case, KTVL banned “Elijah Rebel Kruis” for promoting hate speech, they said. Kruis’ Facebook page is adorned with Confederate flags and far-right posts. Others, like William Meehan, Jr. and  Ronald King, blamed Ellison for playing “crap rap music” too loud and said the victim was being “disrespectful.” In short, they victim shamed.

It was reported that Keegan didn’t have a criminal record but a restraining order was filed by his ex-wife a number of years ago. She also alleged that both she and her son – whom Keegan had custody of – were victims of his emotional and physical abuse.

On Thursday, Chief Tighe O’Meara, Ashland Police Dept., issued the following press release:

 

In reference to the murder of Aidan Ellison, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is working with the Ashland Police Department to assess whether there are any potential violations of federal laws.

While, at this time, this has not been substantiated, under state or federal law, to have been a bias crime, it is important to examine all aspects of this case and determine whether a bias crime has been committed.

Anyone with information pertinent to this case is encouraged to contact the Ashland Police Department.

The Ashland Police Department is grateful for the FBI’s engagement on this case.

An anonymous source, a former law enforcement officer, said they were glad to see the FBI aiding with the investigation.

“According to Oregon law, a hate crime happens when somebody intentionally uses offensive physical contact, threatens physical injury or threatens to cause damage to the property of another person because of their actual or perceived race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin,” they said. “Did that happen? Not that we know of, so far. We do have at least one witness and maybe some security camera footage – but if there is video footage, how good is the audio? What did the witness hear or see that would indicate this was racially motivated? Those factors have to be taken into consideration. As to how long it will take – it’s hard to say. They have a lot of work ahead of them.”

01 December 2020

UPDATE: Autopsy shuts down Keegan's self defense claims


Accused murderer Robert Keegan claims self-defense but evidence says otherwise. Photo courtesy of the Jackson Co. Sheriff's Office.

By Brad Smith

ASHLAND, Ore. – Accused murderer Robert Paul Keegan claimed that a 19-year-old Black man punched him in the face and that he acted in self-defense by shooting him.

According to an unsealed probable cause affidavit, Keegan told Ashland police officers after Aidan Ellison supposedly hit him, he took a few steps back, drew his 9mm semiauto pistol then “racked a round and shot (Ellison) in the chest.”

However, the medical examiner’s findings dispute Keegan’s claim.

Court records show that the autopsy found the victim had no injuries on his hands consistent with physical assault – and Keegan himself lacked visible signs of being punched in the face.

As previously reported, on Nov. 23, Keegan allegedly shot and killed Ellison. The victim was reportedly in the Ashland's Stratford Inn parking lot and listening to music. Cops said that Keegan was not happy about the loud music and – armed with a concealed handgun – went outside to confront Ellison. An argument ensued and Ellison was shot. Keegan was taken into custody and charged with second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, unlawful possession of a firearm (Keegan didn't have a concealed weapon permit) and recklessly endangering another person. 

Court records added a few details to the incident. Keegan was reportedly awakened by loud music this happened at around 4 a.m. He told police that he got dressed, put the gun in his jacket pocket, and went to the front desk. An employee then went out to the parking lot and spoke with Ellison. As they were talked, Keegan went outside and then confronted the young man. That is how the argument started.

Thirty minutes later, Ellison was dead.

Keegan appeared in court last Friday and pleaded not guilty to the four charges. As of press time, he’s still lodged at the Jackson County Jail and no bond has been posted. His next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 22, 2021.

 Local media outlets reported that Keegan didn’t have a criminal record – however, in 2012, his then-wife Amy Jo Hoppins filed a restraining order against him when they lived in Coos County. Hoppins claimed that Keegan was both physically and emotionally abusive to her and their son. Fearing for her safety, Hoppins has gone into hiding and is attempting to regain custody of her son. She told The Rogue Free Press that she was still receiving threats from Keegan over the past year.

 A former law enforcement officer said they were “concerned” by Keegan’s account.

 “’Racked a round?’ That’s something you find in badly written private eye stories or other macho pulp crap novels,” they said. “It’s my opinion – my opinion, mind you – that Keegan was the aggressor here. He was looking for a confrontation. It sounds like the motel employee was doing their job and (Keegan) made things worse. Just another macho fuckup with a gun and a bad attitude.”

Local racial and social justice groups have already held vigils for Ellison and more are planned throughout the week.


 

26 November 2020

Accused killer's ex remembers 'the monster' who terrorized her


 

Robert Keegan – Courtesy JCSO

By Brad Smith

ASHLAND, Ore – Some people aren’t shocked by Robert Paul “Bob” Keegan’s arrest after he allegedly shot a young Black man on Nov. 23.

His ex-wife Amy Jo Hoppins is one of them.

While a GoFundMe account in Keegan’s name proclaims that he’s a kind and loving man, a good father – Hoppins and others say otherwise.

“Bob’s a violent man. Violent, manipulative, abusive and cruel,” she said. “Everyday I was with him, I felt threatened. I was strangled, suffocated and hit. I lost count the number of times he threatened to shoot me. He even drugged me from time to time. And, even worse, was how abusive he was to my son. One time, he even lit a torch and threatened to burn my home. Yes, he’s that crazed. He was a monster.”

A son that Keegan had custody of at the time of the shooting. Keegan and his son were staying at the Stratford Inn after claiming he’d lost his home during the Almeda Fire. While media reports stated Keegan was from Talent, Hoppins said her ex’s last known address was on the 300 block of Kent Street in Ashland.

At around 4:20 a.m. Monday, Keegan, allegedly shot and killed a young Black man named Aidan Ellison, 19, Ashland. Ellison was reportedly in the Ashland's Stratford Inn parking lot and listening to music. Cops said that Keegan was not happy about the loud music and -- armed with a concealed handgun -- went outside to confront Ellison. An argument ensued and Ellison was shot. Keegan was taken into custody and charged with second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, unlawful possession of a firearm (Keegan didn't have a concealed weapon permit) and recklessly endangering another person. As of press time, Keegan is in the county jail and held without bond.

While it has been reported that Keegan didn’t have a criminal record, Hoppins stated that in 2012 she got a restraining order against him when they lived in Coos County. However, she claimed that Keegan routinely violated the restraining order and the physical and emotional abuse continued.

“He’d force his way into my home and take my phone and car keys,” she said. “And, when I did make a report – nothing was done. Bob had a way of convincing people that he was the good guy. He’s still good at it.”

One anonymous source claimed they knew both Hoppins and Keegan when they were together.

“Amy was always terrified,” they said. “Not only of Keegan but his goddamned family. Some of them threatened her on a number of occasions and she didn’t know what to do.”

Hoppins said in January 2015 Keegan left with her son. She has been waging a fight to get custody of her son and, ever since, the threats have continued.

“At one point, my lawyer said it was a good idea to leave,” she said. “So, I did. I’m in another part of the country and I’m still afraid. My son, when we do talk, has told me about Bob and his family talking about what they want to do to me. Yes, I’m scared as hell.”

The anonymous source said it was possible that Keegan supposedly had his records expunged – explaining why nothing is on record.

“He’s just the sort of slime who would do that,” they said.

Hoppins said she’s contacted the Ashland Police Dept. and told them about her past with Keegan. She has also doubled down on her efforts to get custody of her son.

“I don’t think he’s safe with (Keegan’s) family,” she said. “They’re just as bad as he is. He needs to be somewhere safe from them.”

Hoppins said Keegan might have a bail hearing next month and that bothers her.

“I’m worried that he will come after me next,” she said. “Bob thinks he’ll get away with murdering this young man and he’ll be emboldened after this. I worry about what he might do to my son. He’s that dangerous.”

Hoppins said she “grieves” over Ellison’s death.

“He’s dead and my ex is responsible for it,” she said. “I’m so sorry for his family and friends and I wish I could do something for them. That young man didn’t deserve that. And his loved ones don’t deserve this pain and suffering now. No one does. I want them to know that they’re in my heart and prayers. I just wish I could do something for them.”

She hopes Ellison’s loved ones will find justice.

“I hope they lock up (Keegan) for life,” she said. “I hope the investigation will reveal other things about him and what he’s done. What he did to Aidan – that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’m certain of it. That’s why I’m hiding from him and his family.”


25 November 2020

KTVL: Southern Oregon's local media dumpster fire



MEDFORD, Ore. -- Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite are spinning in their graves.

At around 4:20 a.m. Monday, Robert Keegan, 47, Talent, allegedly shot and killed a young Black man named Aidan Ellison, 19, Ashland. Ellison was reportedly in the Ashland's Stratford Inn parking lot and listening to music. Cops said that Keegan was not happy about the loud music and -- armed with a concealed handgun -- went outside to confront Ellison.

Yes. Keegan armed himself before going outside. You read that right.

An argument ensued and Ellison was shot. Keegan was taken into custody and charged with second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, unlawful possession of a firearm (Keegan didn't have a concealed weapon permit) and recklessly endangering another person. As of press time, Keegan is in the county jail and held without bond.

An already tragic story was worsened by a local media outlet's bungling.

The culprit? KTVL Channel 10, the CBS affiliate. Remember CBS? Murrow's battles against social injustice and the Red Scare. Cronkite -- a man that many respected and trusted as he presented the CBS evening news. Both seasoned journalists.

A few months ago, KTVL bashed and shamed the homeless as MPD's Keystone Kops swept thru Hawthorne Park -- not once did the KTVL news readers challenge law enforcement. And, it was very embarrassing when KTVL and other local media outlets said nothing when a fellow reporter was arrested and mistreated for doing their job.

In typical KTVL fashion, their report focused on the murder suspect: Keegan and his son lost their home in the Almeda Fire and had been staying at the motel. They talked about his GoFundMe account. Got quotes from people, saying how wonderful he was. A great dad and so on.

What did KTVL say about Ellison?

Nothing.

Not a single thing save that he'd been shot and killed.

KTVL took a beating on social media. Harsh comments condemning their "reporting" were later removed. KTVL also removed quotes that "might seem insensitive to (Ellison's) family and friends.

Oh. In other posts on social media, some idiots even leapt to Keegan's defense regarding the concealed gun. Or made snide remarks about the current Covid-19 freeze and linked it to the murder.

It's Southern Oregon. It has a lot of stupid white trash.

KTVL screwed up. Again. Murrow and Cronkite would be ashamed of what they've done recently.

The Rogue Free Press wants to hear from Aidan Ellison's family and friends. Unlike KTVL, the Rogue Free Press wants to tell his story.

One hopes that Ellison will get justice. His family and friends deserve that much -- along with an apology from KTVL.






16 November 2020

Whiterwater park opponents in for big surprise

 

By Brad Smith

GOLD HILL, Ore.  – Those opposing a proposed whitewater park near Gold Hill are in for a surprise: It’s been a part of the city’s parks master plan since 2015.

May 18, 2015, to be exact. That’s when the city council passed and adopted the parks and open space master plan: Councilors Doug Reischman, Gus Wolf, Margaret Dials, Karen Baker and Donna Silva voted their support for the plan and Chris Stanley was against it. Then mayor Jan Fish and city manager Rick Hohnbaum signed off on it.

Over the last several months, Councilor Danielle Hinkley said she’s been in touch with citizens who say they have concerns about the whitewater park project, which has been spearheaded by Stephen Kiesling. Hinkley said some locals felt their “concerns” about a whitewater park were ignored and felt the city shouldn’t be involved or backing it.

However, it is in the parks and open spaces master plan – and there was plenty of public input.

Hohnbaum said the process putting together the master plan was very thorough.

“We had a series of whitewater park meetings with at least two large intergovernmental ones with tribes and four small group ones with county and local so I would say six (meetings),” he said. “In addition, Molly Bradley, our AmeriCorps intern,  had organized some park trail meetings. There was a lot of input and support from (Gold Hill) residents.”

Richard Hart, a Gold Hill resident who’s been active in previous park projects, was involved in the process leading up to the master plan’s finalization.

“Meetings? There were a lot of meetings and the public was right there,” Hart said. “We reached out to many in the community, even kids – kids are our future and we wanted to hear what they had to say, what they wanted. As for the actual meetings, they were well attended.”

Hart said it’s frustrating because over the last five years, some residents have developed “selective amnesia.”

“Some have said Gold Hill residents were left out of the whitewater park discussions,” he said. “Some have said it was never talked about publicly. That’s not true. There were meetings and the public was there. Those are on record. Some have claimed the tribes were shut out and environmental issues were ignored. That’s nonsense: (Kiesling) included the tribes in the process and many environmental agencies were brought in. Were the i’s dotted and t’s crossed? Yes, they were.”

Hart feels that a number of local “negative elements” are playing on people’s fears and stirring up rumors and misinformation.

“They know about the whitewater park’s inclusion in the master plan,” he said. “They know – but it’s my view that they’re misleading others in order to stir up trouble. These people don’t want Gold Hill to prosper. They want it to be a dead-end bedroom community that has nothing to offer. No growth. No jobs. Nothing.”

One source said that social media has been a problem with some people pushing fake narratives and those narratives have found their way into city council meetings.

“When (Hinkley) brought up the Ventura story, well, that was embarrassing,” the source said.

In a social media post, an individual claiming to be from Ventura, Calif., said they didn’t want Gold Hill to be like their hometown. “Ventura used to be a sleepy little town until tourism ruined it,” they said. Hinkley would use that very phrase during a city council meeting.

“They don’t want that to happen to Gold Hill and I don’t want to see that happen either,” she said.

The problem was that Ventura was never a “sleepy little town.”

By the 1930s, Ventura had a population of more than 11,000 people and over 14,000 within a decade. Along with an oil boom and lucrative fruit produce businesses in the area, Ventura was always known for its tourism trade. Hart grew up in the area and laughed at the social media post. “Ventura has always been a booming place,” he said. “It was never a small town like Gold Hill. However, someone made a comment on social media and people believed it, not bothering to check it out.”

Which circles back to the whitewater park, he said.

“You have people making some wild claims about the whitewater park and how people weren’t aware of this or that,” Hart said. “We know that’s not true. There was a very thorough, well documented process involved and it was never underhanded. It’s all there in the master plan.”

The anonymous source said they were “perplexed” by Hinkley bringing up misleading social media posts during council meetings.

“You would think a councilor would take the time to fact check social media posts before saying something on the record,” they said. “I’ve talked to her a number of times. She’s smart but she should have checked things herself. I have to wonder if someone is feeding her misinformation and she blindly accepts it. Now, I have to wonder: ‘Is this the sort of person I want representing my best interests?’ No.”

 

13 November 2020

Commissioner Colleen Roberts is an idiot


If you look up the definition of moron in the dictionary, here's the picture you will find beside it.


MEDFORD, Ore. – Face it, Jackson County: You have some goddamned idiots for county commissioners.

Colleen Roberts is one of the dumbest politicians ever to be in office. She makes Trump look like Einstein at times.

Earlier this week, Roberts – along with Rick Dyer, who’s also an idiot – pushed back against County Administrator Danny Jordan’s suggestion the commissioners release a statement supporting mask-wearing, social distancing and washing hands. Roberts, instead, said an announcement saying using vitamins to boost people’s immune systems was better. She opposed any sort of “government mandate” regarding masks because it should be a person’s choice to wear one or not.

Roberts, along with Dyer, felt Covid-19 restrictions were harmful to personal freedoms and businesses. And she was concerned about kids not being able to play sports.

Yes.

Money and somebody’s crotch urchins not being able to play football are more worrisome to Roberts than people’s lives.

Late this spring, Roberts spoke at an anti-lockdown rally in Medford. Before speaking, she urged people to ignore social distancing and crowd in closer to the stage area. As it was, many of those people were not wearing masks. Roberts was upset that people couldn’t go to church but a woman could still get an abortion.

Yes.

She went there.

That’s the mentality of this woman. If you ever have a face to face talk with Colleen Roberts, as you look into her eyes – you might as well be looking into a bottomless pit. If there was ever a zombie apocalypse, she’d unfortunately survive because she’s brainless. If you listen to her speak, it’s like fingernails scratching a blackboard.

That’s the caliber of our “leadership” here in Jackson County.

All of Oregon is undergoing spikes of new cases and there are a few outbreaks in the county, one at a healthcare facility. It’s not looking good.

And Commissioner Colleen Roberts thinks “taking your vitamins” is the message people need to hear.

Jackson County is so screwed.


07 November 2020

Trump's a sore loser as Biden embraces victory


 It’s finally over – well, the first battle is.

Earlier today, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden won with more than 273 electoral votes – meantime, Donald Trump continues his usual barrage of baseless claims and outright lies.

According to the Associated Press, Biden’s victory came after more than three days of uncertainty as election officials sorted through a surge of mail-in votes that delayed processing. Biden crossed the winning threshold of 270 Electoral College votes with a win in Pennsylvania.

Also, the AP said Kamala Harris made history as the first Black woman to become vice president, an achievement that comes as the U.S. faces a reckoning on racial justice. The California senator, who is also the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice presidency, will become the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in government, four years after Trump defeated Hillary Clinton.

Trump is the first incumbent president to lose reelection since Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992. The AP reported that Trump earlier repeated his unsupported allegations of election fraud and illegal voting on Twitter. One of his tweets, quickly flagged as potentially misleading by Twitter, claimed: “I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!”

Here in Oregon, the Biden-Harris ticket took the state with more than 56 percent of the votes or 1.3 million while Trump garnered over 40 percent or over 940,000. In Jackson County, Trump got over 63,000 votes while Biden received more than 58,000.

On local social media, Trump supporters fumed over their candidate’s defeat, echoing his false claims of ballot tampering and other conspiracy theories.  Pro Trump Facebook groups called for demonstrations and protests. Others launched into racist attacks on Harris, claiming that she wasn’t Black and questioned her American citizenship.

Trump’s attorney and former drag queen Rudy Giuliani held a news conference outside a Philadelphia landscaping firm called Four Seasons – with an adult bookstore within sight. It was a sad but wonderfully humorous coda to Trump’s reelection campaign.

Various media outlets reported that Mitch McConnell is already planning to  disrupt Biden’s cabinet picks. A number of Senate and House races are still up in the air and there are rumors Nancy Pelosi might be ousted as speaker.

In short, other battles are up ahead.

Meantime, many are celebrating the fact that Betsy DeVos will soon be out of a job as well.

04 November 2020

Convicted child abuser member of RV Salt Shakers hate group


This is Trevor Emptage's Facebook profile picture. In March 2012, Emptage held a small child under scalding hot water.

By Brad Smith


JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. – A convicted child abuser is a member of the hate group, RV Salt Shakers.

Last week, Salt Shaker leader Jon Clement and another member Ryan Clark were arrested by Grants Pass police after illegally firing shotguns as their pontoon boat drifted down the Rogue River near some public parks. It would seem the RV Salt Shakers attract a certain criminal element.

Case in point: Trevor Maurice Emptage.

On March 4, 2012, Rogue Regional Medical Center ER doctors contacted law enforcement after seeing a 1-year old girl with first and second degree burns to her feet. Jackson County Sheriff’s Office deputies conducted an investigation and found that her foster father, Emptage, was angry after the child had defecated in the bathtub – there was evidence showing the child was held in scalding hot water by force.

Emptage would later plead guilty to second-degree assault as additional counts of first-degree assault and first-degree criminal mistreatment were dismissed in a plea agreement. While second-degree assault is a Measure 11 offense, Emptage received a sentence of 34 months rather than the mandatory 70 months due to having no criminal record. Emptage’s wife and members from his church wrote letters asking for no jail sentence. He was ordered to turn himself in by July 2, 2013.

Emptage was seen on video recordings harassing people outside of the Medford Planned Parenthood clinic on Nov. 3. When Pepper Shaker counter protestors confronted Emptage about his child abusing past, he countered that he’d “found Jesus and was saved.”

Evidently, while being in church, he hadn’t found Jesus before.

Emptage, 37, now works tech support for Burning Diode Technology Services in Central Point.

It's not clear if having a criminal record is a prerequisite for RV Salt Shaker membership.




Trump's election night meltdown is yet another disgrace


Well.

It was bound to happen eventually.

Trump's election night meltdown was a nadir for our country. Outright lies and then threatening our election process . . . it was disgusting and goes against everything about us, the Constitution and what our Founders dreaded.

It was not our finest moment.

Again.

It's going to be rough, the next few days . . . hell, maybe even a week or two. We can expect to see more meltdowns from this orange skinned shitgibbon. And, we'll see Biden act as a mature, calm and thoughtful human being.

Someone we need right now.

I know.

Some of you don't like Biden but after Trump's recent meltdown . . . do you really want another four years of this vile display of childish behavior, bullying and lies?

Seriously?!

It's going to be okay.

It's going to be better.

We don't need another four years of Trump.


01 November 2020

Proof that even if you have lots of money . . . you're still white trash . . . .


 Ashland's version of the Clampetts took offense at the @ashlandmemes Instagram account. They had their minions file a number of complaints and the social media platform removed it.

I'm happy to report that the 2.0 account is currently active. Check them out.

Racism. It's acceptable at the Sportsman Tavern in Cave Junction, Ore.


 From a reader:

"So this dude decided to dress up in Confederate/Trump gear and wear black face for Halloween in Cave Junction where he enjoyed his night at the Sportsman Tavern in CJ without being kicked out or even called out for his costume.  

"Just a heads up to any of my friends who may be in CJ looking for a drink. Stay away from Sportsman Tavern."

Do you want to do business with the Sportsman tavern?

31 October 2020

Hate group's FB page vanishes after leader arrested


 By Brad Smith

GRANTS PASS, Ore. – A southern Oregon’s hate group Facebook page disappeared from the social media platform shortly after their leader was arrested by Grants Pass police earlier this week.

Jon Clement, 61, and Ryan Clark, 43, both of Grants Pass, were arrested on Oct. 26 by Grants Pass police after the pair were allegedly shooting at birds from a pontoon boat drifting down the Rogue River. According to press releases, the two men fired shotguns as their boat drifted near both Tussing and Reinhart Volunteer Parks. Some witnesses reported they heard pellets pass overhead.

Clement and Clark were taken into custody sometime after 5 p.m. and were booked into the Josephine County Jail. Both were charged with unlawful use of a weapon and reckless endangerment.

Clement is the leader of RV Salt Shakers, a hate group that’s operated throughout southern Oregon for the last few years. Clark is allegedly a member as well. The Salt Shakers have been known to picket area Planned Parenthood clinics and harass patients and others using PP services. The Shakers have also been a nuisance at many local events, ranging from Pear Blossom to Ashland’s holiday parade. A number of groups have taken measures to bar the Salt Shakers from their events. They have also targeted the LGBTQ and immigrant communities.

Clement’s group has been accused of using fear tactics and even intimidation.

“(Fear tactics) are sometimes necessary to further our message,” he said in 2019. “If it helps our cause, we’ll do it.”

Word of Clement and Clark’s arrests spread like wildfire through social media and it wasn’t long before the group’s page was hit by trolling.

The Salt Shakers have been scaling back their weekly harassment of Planned Parenthood clinics since counter protestors – some calling themselves the RV Pepper Shakers – have appeared.

Clement was contacted by the Rogue Free Press. He did not respond.


18 October 2020

SOEquity feeding Hawthorne homeless

 By Brad Smith

MEDFORD, Ore. – Despite last month’s police crackdown on Hawthorne Park’s tent city and its homeless population, some are still doing what they can to help.

Prior to that, Clarence Carr was spearheading daily free meals and helped pull together mutual aid program helping the homeless and those displaced by the Almeda Fire. Since the Medford police’s sweep, Carr has been working with others to establish a nonprofit group focused on helping the homeless. As he’s been getting the paperwork together, Carr said he’s working with the Mother Teresa Genesis Home nonprofit.

 “It’s going to take some time but everything starts small in the beginning,” he said.

In the meantime, someone is stepping up. Earlier this month, the Southern Oregon Coalition for Racial Equity announced that it would be helping with volunteer efforts feeding and aiding the homeless. Emily Mann, SOEquity’s social media director, said their role is a “logistical one.”

“We are organizing/scheduling volunteers/ordering meals/accepting donations,” she said. “Everyone agreed that having an entity with some of the supportive tools we have – scheduling software, fiscal sponsorship – would ensure sustainability in the project. We are in this for the long run. We are doing lunch daily and dinner three times a week. We are able to give out about 60-75 individual meals each time we serve.”

 Mann said SOEquity volunteers go through about $100 of snacks and drinks a day. Their meals are delivered through Rogue Food Unite. “They’ve been awesome to work with and provide such an incredible service to the community,” she said.

Little Caesar’s Pizza, bagels, fruit and snacks are the typical fare, along with bottled water. Mann and other volunteers network via Facebook on a regular basis and, so far, it’s been working.

 People – people who would probably starve – are getting fed.

 Last month, Melissa Mayne, executive director of the Compassionate Highway Project, took to social media and made a number of outrageous, unsubstantiated claims that Antifa agitators were being bussed in from Portland and even outstate. She also claimed that Black Lives Matter supporters were involved in criminal activities and, along with Antifa, had something to do with last month’s fires. She made similar claims at a Medford city council meeting too.

Despite Mayne’s group claiming to help the homeless, both Mann and some volunteers said that that they haven’t seen CHP volunteers in the park.

 “It’s odd, since we both help the same group of people,” Mann said. “We haven’t seen much from them.”

 A number of homeless after the Medford Police Dept. sweep relocated to a section of the Bear Creek Greenway many call “Paradise.” Mann said SOEquity volunteers distribute food to them once in a while when they have a few mobile volunteers.

 Some volunteers help in many ways. Melissa Jones said she helps deliver and serve food and drinks to the homeless. “When I can, I bring harm reduction supplies – needle exchange, safe sex, Narcan/opiate overdose prevention, things like that. I do what I can,” she said.

 Mann said SOEquity is committed to helping.

“We aren’t positive when Clarence will be taking over. We definitely want work with his 501 c3 when it’s up and running,” she said. “Overall, things are going well. We haven’t had much issue with rumors. Honestly, we haven’t really had any negative run ins with unsupportive community members or the police so far. It’s going smoothly, very smoothly.”



Mallory's Agenda


So, Ryan Mallory is pushing his agenda again regarding the Talent city council election.

I voted.

And I didn't vote for Mallory's candidates.

No, instead, I voted for people who are the best ones to guide our community and keep making it a better place. For everyone.

While Mallory only wants it for a select few.

Harrison refused to do the right thing a number of years when he didn't support actions safeguarding our fellow residents. Mallory is fine with that because he's stated a number of times that "racism is not a problem" in the Rogue Valley.

Timen? He's no better with his views and he's sanitized his Facebook page to make himself look nice and friendly.

This election year is very important, on all levels. After four years, no, we're still not great as a country but, dammit, our town is looking good and is on the right track. Harrison, Timen . . . these guys will take us deeper into the cesspool.

No. That's not for Talent.

But, that's what Mallory wants.

Mallory doesn't give a damn about social justice, the environment, affordable housing, protecting those who embrace other faiths or progress. Like Trump, he wants to see us careen down a dangerous path of hate, bigotry, rabid nationalism and other societal ills. Hell, Mallory has shown reckless disregard with others' safety during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

In a time of healing and rebuilding, we need thoughtful, compassionate and intelligent leadership. The last thing Talent needs is Mallory's agenda or people like him.


12 October 2020

Ghosts on the SOU campus and not everything is paranormal


 Photo by Jr Korpa

Ghosts haunt Ashland and the surrounding area – it’s a place rich in paranormal lore.

Sometimes.

Southern Oregon University has a few stories. From the Ghosts and Critters website, here’s a rundown of its most notable stories:

Southern Oregon University’s Plunkett Center has been put to many uses since the University acquired the old building in 1966. It has been alumni and development offices on its second floor and the first floor is used as museum displays by the local historical society. This building is also known as the Swedenburg House, taken from its former tenant, Dr. F. Swedenburg. Swedenburg was a prominent local physician who lived in the house from 1919 until he died in 1937. 

Since the University purchased the property there have been ghost stories surrounding it. Some skeptics believe the stories get more elaborate year after year. Believers who counter this opinion included a University professor and the head of campus security. 

Joey Ngan began his experiences with the Swedenburg house when he was a junior campus security guard. Ngan had the graveyard shift when he started out working for security. He always felt as if he was being watched when he went onto the second floor. He would announce himself and explain that he was just there to check out the building. If he did not do this he always felt as if something did not want him there. 

The house was restored in the early 1980s and a new security system was installed. Ngan and another officer had just finished checking the building and ensuring that the alarm system was operational. Later they drove by the house and saw a woman illumined by the porch light. She was sitting beside a window in a first-floor office. They saw her for a second and then she was gone. They entered the building and searched it for her. The door was locked and the building was empty. 

Political Science Professor Bill Muelemans came to the University in the early 1970s and collected several of the stories over the years. In 1973 the building was closed down and the electricity was turned off. Muelemans, a security guard and three students decided to hold a vigil in the house. They went to one of the second story rooms with candles, flashlights and a Ouija board. The board spelled out messages, including a statement that one of the students had tried to commit suicide in the past. This was true, though no one besides the student knew this. The board began moving and seemed to jump in the air about 18 inches. 

At that point they ran out of the building. The security guard was the last one out. As he was locking the door he felt as if his hand was frozen to the doorknob for about 30 seconds before he could break free. Many visitors have seen another specter. A young girl dressed in an old-fashioned pinafore dress with her hair in pigtails has been seen by many unrelated visitors. She is usually seen out of the corner of the visitor's eyes and only for a few seconds. There are rumors of burglar alarms going off and glowing apparitions seen by students late at night. It is hard to pin them down to a definite location.

There are a few other stories, buildings haunted by long dead janitors, teachers and students. Universities and colleges have those kinds of stories, ranging from botched hazings to distraught students dying by suicide. And, some of them are urban legends: The same basic story transferred from one school to another, with some details changed to fit local history or what have you.

Think about it: How many hotels or other places have stories of the jilted bride who killed herself? Yes, at some point, it happened . . . . And then a slightly altered version of the story found its way attached to another hotel or well-known resort. Then, it spreads from there.

Then, you have some local folklore altered into a ghost story.

Tunnel 13 is a good example.

It was called the last great train robbery of the American West. On Oct. 11, 1923, the DeAutremont brothers – twins Roy and Ray along with their younger brother Hugh – robbed the Oregon–California Express as it was on its way to San Francisco. During the robbery, four men were killed and the brothers fled empty handed. Thanks to the efforts of a Berkeley chemistry professor name  Edward Oscar Heinrich and his forensic skills, the DeAutremont brothers were eventually captured and sentenced to prison.

Since then, many have claimed Tunnel 13 is haunted. People claim to have felt cold spots as they walk through the tunnel – well, it’s a tunnel. It’s a tunnel with a violent past and it’s like the funhouse effect, as some of us paranormal investigators call it. It’s like when people look at a spooky old building and think it’s haunted.

Why?

Because it looks spooky.

It’s the same with Tunnel 13. It has the right perquisites for a haunted location. Remote, foreboding, violent history and – most importantly – it has the number 13.

It has to be haunted.

I love history, crime stories and forensics; so the Tunnel 13 story has plenty of hooks for me as it is. And, yes, as a paranormal investigator, I’d love to check it out but I feel that there isn’t enough documentation to say there’s any paranormal activity at the location. There’s a lot to assume and the YouTube videos I’ve seen . . . well, I’m not impressed. Anecdotal evidence might be an interesting hook but it’s not real evidence.

Now, if someone has a different view or even evidence – please, let me know. As Mulder’s poster so famously says, I want to believe.



09 October 2020

Talent: Say "No" to Timen.

Talent doesn't need Ron Timen.

After being devastated by the Almeda Fire, Talent is on the long road to recovery and rebuilding -- and it needs strong leadership.

Good leadership from good people.

No. You won't find that from Ron Timen.

Timen on his campaign Facebook page touts himself as being just the good, decent guy Talent needs on its city council. Like so:


Nice and perfectly smarmy, yes?

From Ryan Pederson Yes. That Ryan Pederson:


A little civility from our politicians is a welcome thing but I doubt people will get it from Timen. We don't need gaslighting. See. This is civility from Pastor Ron's wholesome and personal Facebook page:

No. No, Talent doesn't need Ron Timen. Just perusing his page, his likes, Timen is a right wing crank of a wolf in sheep's clothing. One of his favorite ministers is a guy who rants about the evils of George Soros and the like. It's bad enough that John Harrison refuses to crawl back to the gutter and wants another term as councilor. Talent doesn't need someone else like him on the council. No, Timen is not the person for the job.

As stated before, Talent is in the process of recovery and rebuilding. The Almeda Fire devastated the entire community and people's lives. Strong yet compassionate leadership on the council is what Talent needs. Not someone like Timen. 

Just say "No" to Timen.



08 October 2020

#boycottrogueweather

Greg Roberts posted this a few weeks ago. Despite numerous press releases from the FBI and local law enforcement agencies debunking these conspiracy theories, Roberts continued to push them.

Contact his RogueWeather.com paid sponsors and ask if they support these conspiracy theories.

#boycottrogueweather
























07 October 2020

The Ghosts of Ashland


 Image by Stefano Pollio.

Ashland is home to a number of ghosts and here are few of their stories.

Spanning more than 90 acres, Ashland’s Lithia Park is the city’s largest park, with famed landscape architect John McLaren overseeing a number of improvements. One of the park’s most well-known ghosts is the Blue Lady or Blue Girl. According to the accounts, back in the 1880s, a young woman was sexually assaulted and murdered. Since then, many witnesses have reported a mysterious blue light – or a glowing mist – floating throughout the park, particularly the duck ponds.

Always at night, of course.

The Blue Lady, in her mist form, has been known to move out in front of moving vehicles or seemingly appear out of thin air. In these accounts, as the vehicles pass through the blue mists, the occupants are hit with a cold chill.

Then, the cold goes away along with the mist.

Another story has it that a logger was killed during an accident. According to some accounts, the ill-fated logger used a drinking jug as a musical instrument . . . witnesses claim to hear strange musical sounds as they walk through the park at night.

Where the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Black Swan Theatre now stands, nearly a hundred years ago, there was a large parking lot (an automobile dealership would later take its place). During the day, a young man – called Dog Boy or Dog-Faced Boy due to an accident that scarred his face – would sell pencils out of a tin cup; at night, he would break into parked cars or burglarized nearby businesses. However, local vigilantes, according to one story, caught Dog Boy in the act and beat him to death.

Ever since, Dog Boy has been seen the in the area, looking for another vehicle to rob or maybe even seeking shelter from vigilantes.

Famed stage and film actor Charles Laughton went to the OSF in the early 1960s and enjoyed the shows he saw. It’s been said Laughton had always wanted to play King Lear at the OSF and, supposedly, the deal was made. However, Laughton died . . . stories have it that whenever Lear is produced at the OSF, Laughton or some shadowy figure can be seen in the audience during rehearsals or his footsteps can be heard backstage.

In the town’s old railroad district, what’s now the Peerless Hotel was once a boarding house for railway workers and is rumored to be haunted by a ghost prostitute who visited the men.

It should be noted that these stories are based on various accounts and urban legends. Each story probably has several different versions – that’s the nature of folklore.

Happy Hallowe’en . . . .


Cancel Culture: It Happened to Me

Yes -- I was "canceled" . . . . By Brad Smith Ever since I wrote and published the article about Talent Elementary special educati...