REDMOND, Ore. (AP) — Someone left a dead raccoon and a sign with “intimidating language” that mentioned an African-American councilman outside the law office of an Oregon mayor, police said.
Redmond Mayor Ed Fitch found the raccoon and the sign Monday, the Redmond Police Department said in a news release. The sign mentioned Fitch and Redmond City Councilman Clifford Evelyn by name, police said.
Fitch called sign language “racially hateful.” He declined to elaborate, but told The Bulletin, “I feel bad for Clifford. It seems there are some people in the city who can’t accept the fact that Clifford is black and is on the City Council.”
Police are not releasing the exact language of the sign to maintain the integrity of the investigation, city spokeswoman Heather Cassaro said. Police said they are investigating the act as a possible hate crime.
Evelyn, a retired law enforcement officer who was elected to the council in 2021, described the act as a hate crime but said she was confident in the police investigation. Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
Raccoon images have long been an insulting and anti-black caricature in the United States. With roots in slavery, it is among “the most flagrantly degrading of all black stereotypes,” according to the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Images in Michigan.
In recent years, a Black Redmond teenager found a threatening message on her front door, while an unsuccessful Deschutes County Commission candidate displayed a Confederate flag at the town’s Fourth of July parade.
“People in this part of the country are going to have to catch up,” Evelyn said. “It is only fools who cannot follow the path. And they are causing harm to everyone and making us look bad.”
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