A neighbor recently reported seeing individuals with white supremacist/neo-Nazi tattoos and other symbols right here in Salem, in the vicinity of 12th Street and Hines. Hate groups have been expanding nationally and in Oregon in recent years. What can we do about this growing problem?
Understand the extent of the problem.
Despite Oregon’s reputation as a progressive and welcoming place, hate groups have a long history here. The Southern Poverty Law Center tracks hate groups nationwide, and provides an annual report. Their site includes a national “Hate Map”.
The Oregonian reported on SPLC’s 2018 list of hate groups in Oregon, including groups which target people based on race, national origin, and religion, along with anti-government groups. They note that the National Socialist Movement has a branch in Salem.
Within SESNA itself, we have had significant hate-driven attacks in recent years. These include the 2017 attack at Al-Aqsa on State Street and the 2019 attack at the 12th Street Market.
The 2017 attack at Al-Aqsa involved a man accusing the owner of being a “terrorist” and holding his wife prisoner, then attacking the owner with a metal pipe.
The 2019 attack at 12th Street Market involved a man attempting to tear off the Sikh owner’s turban and physically attacking him. The attacker “told police he thought removing the man’s turban would disrespect him because he was “Hindu and prays to Vishnu the catfish god.” “
The 12th Street Market permanently closed a few months later.
Report hate crimes, no matter how minor they seem.
Salem Police Department and the Salem Human Rights Commission have teamed up to create a Core Response Team focusing on hate crimes. The webpage specific to hate crimes is here: https://www.cityofsalem.net/Pages/help-for-victims-of-hate-crimes.aspx
According to their downloadable brochure:
Hate or bias activity is defined as any incident, violent or non-violent, that is perceived by the victim or any other person to be biased due to: race, religion, color, sex, marital or familial status, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identify, or source of income.
Reportable actions include:
- Offensive language, actions or symbols
- Written or verbal threats
- Abusive phone calls, emails, or messages
Contact info for reporting:
If a crime has occurred, call the Salem Police non-emergency line at 503-588-6123. If a crime is in progress, call 9-1-1.
If you do not believe a crime has occurred, but have observed hate-promoting graffiti, individuals with hate-group tattoos or patches, etc., please report these incidents to the City’s Human Rights Commission:
Get involved with the Salem Human Rights Commission.
You can attend meetings, provide public testimony, or even apply for a seat on the Commission.
Salem’s Human Rights Commission meets monthly. Their website, with agendas and more information, is here.
Meet your neighbors and talk about it.
Coming to a SESNA neighborhood meeting or other event like our quarterly neighborhood litter pick-ups is a great way to network with neighbors. Even if those don’t work with your schedule, every day presents an opportunity to say hi to a neighbor on the street!
Express your support for diversity.
Since 2017, SESNA has provided these welcoming yard signs. We still have some available! We ask $10 for the full-size yard sign, though we won’t refuse anyone for lack of funds. We also have 8.5″ x 11″ printed signs that you can put in your window; these are free to any who want them.