Dead raccoon, intimidating note, prompt conversation about racism in Redmond
A dead raccoon and intimidating note left for the mayor and a Black city councilman in the city of Redmond has caused the council and city residents to confront racism within the community.
On June 5, someone left the deceased animal and a hand-written note containing intimidating language directed at Mayor Ed Fitch and councilman Clifford Evelyn, who is Black. The Redmond Police Department is investigating the incident as a potential bias-crime.
The Jim Crow Museum in Michigan calls raccoon imagery degrading, dehumanizing, and among “the most insulting of all anti-black caricatures.”
The mayor and council addressed the incident June 13 during a regularly scheduled council meeting. Members of the body expressed disappointment, disgust, and a desire to not let the potential hate crime deter their work.
“The cowardly act that was carried out at the mayor's personal business office was something out of the 1950s and ‘60s. For those who do not support teaching accurate and sometimes uncomfortable American history in our schools. This is why it's important to do so,'' said Evelyn. “History repeats itself and horrible acts of racism are occurring in our town and in our community. Systematic racism is alive and well in certain pockets of Redmond and Central Oregon.”
Mayor Fitch said Evelyn, who is a Navy veteran and former law enforcement officer, has endured racism since taking office in 2021, and that he had “seen Clifford continually attacked because of the color of his skin.”
“This has been brewing since my time on city council,” Evelyn said at the meeting, noting several incidents: the waving of a confederate flag, the wearing of a confederate uniform on Independence Day, a business owner comparing the COVID-19 vaccine mandate to the Holocaust, and “a citizen who openly felt comfortable stating that her parents had once owned slaves and how it was alright.
“Collectively, these actions solidify a pattern of behavior and an antiquated mindset, which only fuels the fire of hate in Redmond. It was crystal clear to me where this was heading. And now we have reached an inflection point where we have to decide how Redmond will move forward in the future,” Evelyn said.
A young student let council members know school children are also experiencing racism.
Gavin Alston, age 10, explained during public testimony that while third grade was a positive experience, fourth grade—which he’s attending at a different school— has been challenging.
“A lot of people have been calling me the N-word, or a monkey, or even black boy. One girl said to me ‘I would hate you but that’s called animal abuse,’” Alston said, addressing the council.
“We should not get treated like this. We should get treated equally. This is not fair to us Black people,” said Alston, who received a round of applause.
Redmond police are investigating.
In a prepared release dated June 5, the Redmond Police Chief Devin Lewis said the department “has no tolerance of hate speech of any kind, against any person or group,” and said police will work swiftly to resolve this case.
No arrests have been made.