Groups call sign hate speech: 'We're not going to let it go unanswered'

Groups call sign hate speech: 'We're not going to let it go unanswered'

EUGENE, Ore. - A banner temporarily displayed over Interstate 5 on a bicycle and pedestrian bridge reads "Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white."

Community leaders call the slogan hate speech.

"We think it was a white supremacist group who put that up, which makes it even more important that we challenge it," said Michael Carrigan with Community Alliance of Lane County.

"The symbol on the sign is called Odin's cross," said Michael Kinnison, Eugene Equity and Human Rights program manager, "and it's an ancient celtic symbol, but the white supremacist movement has co-opted that symbol as part of their messaging."

Kinnison added, "It incorrectly shifts the focus away from the fact that racism is very real and experienced by members of our community."

The photo of the banner has generated a lot of discussion online.
 
A person who commented on a local news website claiming to be the man pictured kneeling next to the banner disputed whether the banner was affixed to the bridge, which is illegal regardless of what the sign says. The person, whose identity could not be verified, suggested the banner was possibly part of a walking picket that paused on the bridge.

Carrigan said, "We are appalled that it happened and we are shocked that it happened, and we're not going to let it go unanswered."

He said CALC is planning a demonstration in response to this sign to let people know that hate speech is not accepted in this community.

In Eugene, if you think you have witnessed a hate crime, you should contact Equity and Human Rights Center at (541) 682-5177 or email ehrcenter@ci.eugene.or.us.