On Tuesday July 11, the Board of Lane County Commissioners voted 3-2 to establish a board response to acts of hate, bias or violence in the county. Commissioners David Loveall and Ryan Ceniga voted against it.
Equity manager Latiffe Amado and Public Information Officer Devon Ashbridge pointed out that while the board has made formal statements denouncing discrimination and hate in the past, it needs to be more timely and prepared.
Amado and Ashbridge proposed the board create a framework to formally respond to these incidents of hate, violence or bias and allow the board chair, currently Pat Farr, authority to approve responses on behalf of the board.
Amado highlighted the importance of this motion by bringing up the fact that “In 2023, we are up to 350 reported cases of hate and bias ” according to the Oregon Department of Justice.
Although the motion passed, Commissioners Loveall and Ceniga said they were skeptical of how necessary it is to establish a framework for hate and bias.
“I have some concerns over a commissioner’s statement that I wasn’t directly involved in,” Ceniga said. “I would prefer to keep our responses individual.”
Loveall had similar concerns to Ceniga and wondered how this motion would stop the trend of bias and hate in Lane County. “In my mind, every time we have something going on in the country we hear, ‘My thoughts and prayers are with you.’ Well, people are tired of hearing that,” Loveall said. “It’s almost an offensive statement.”
Loveall was videoed carrying an AR-15 style rifle on Main Street in Springfield during a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in 2020. He told Eugene Weekly in 2022 when the video came to light while he was running for his commission seat, “The protesters decided not to come down to Main Street because of the presence of people willing to protect their property.”
Commissioners Heather Buch, Laurie Trieger and Farr were heavily in favor of the motion. Buch said, “This is a leadership responsibility.” She added, “This is one of those ways we can respond and ensure our community knows we’re paying attention.”
Trieger added that she has heard from many people that the board has been “too conspicuous” in the past with its response to hate, bias and violence, and she has no concerns in implementing the motion.