There are Nazis in Eugene, Oregon! I guess this shouldn’t be a surprise: Eugene is a very white city, Oregon has an intensely racist history, and the University of Oregon has had some, errm, incidents in its past, but it’s also extraordinarily liberal/progressive, so it’s disappointing to see it in the news now for its few noisy neo-Nazis, some of whom are profiting from the marijuana trade — Weed Nazis are now a thing.
That stubborn legacy of bigotry persists in Eugene, where city officials this year have recorded nearly 60 hate crimes, up from 44 last year. Officials said vandalism and graffiti made up 20 percent of the hate crimes reported between January and October.
Statewide, hate crimes were up 60 percent in 2016 from the previous year, representing one of the largest increases of any state, according to an analysis of federal data by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
In 2016, Eugene had more hate crimes than any other place in Oregon, said Brian Levin, director of the center.
I’m sure no one is surprised that Nazis are feeling empowered nowadays — they’ve installed a few in the White House. It’s also sad, though, that my old neighborhood is featured in the story.
The city’s Whiteaker neighborhood, a vibrant arts and entertainment district, attracted a rash of Nazi-inspired graffiti in February. Residents and business owners also awoke during that time to find the area leafleted with recruitment fliers that proclaimed, “Diversity is a code word for white genocide.”
Yikes. We lived with our two little boys, one just an infant, on Clark street, and I remember it as a quiet residential neighborhood with flower gardens, a nice view of Skinner’s Butte, and a short walk to the Willamette River — I’d take my oldest on little red wagon rides across the footbridge to the movie theater. And now it’s got Nazis. That’s just not right.
At least Eugene also has a vibrant and active antifa presence, which helps.