Sociologist: White Power groups active in area

Portland is the whitest of the 30 largest US cities

Jeremy Christian appears before murder trial judge on a procedural matter, July 18 2017. (KOIN)
Jeremy Christian appears before murder trial judge on a procedural matter, July 18 2017. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In his State of the City speech last spring, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler reminded everyone that black people were not allowed to live in Oregon when it became a state in 1859.

Portland is the whitest of the 30 largest cities in the United States — 76% white, according to the US Census Bureau. Hate-motivated tragedies have struck Portland recently, including the MAX train stabbings in late May.

Ron Herndon, who is the director of the Albina Head Start, told KOIN 6 News there is much more racial hatred on a daily basis that most people don’t see.

“I have a co-worker who lives out in East County, very concerned about her child because of the names she gets called at school, a predominately white school,” Herndon said. “It’s the N-word. There are jokes made about the texture of her hair, the complexion of her skin.”

White Power groups are still active in our area, said University of Oregon sociologist Randy Blazak. Although some feel Portland is a progressive city, Blazak points to a growing group of white males who believe the country has changed too much and want to go back by targeting minority groups they view as the enemy.

“Portland deludes themselves into thinking this is a hip town,” Blazak, the head of the Oregon Coalition Against Hate Crime, said.

“I worry about the increasing tension between the extreme right and the people who want to confront them, because sometimes that feeds into their narrative,” Blazak said. “When you punch a fascist in the face, sometimes they look like a victim.”