The arrest of Genesis Hansen for bicycling on the wrong side of the street angers me. In Oregon nonwhite and LGBTQ folk are regularly harassed and sometimes killed by the police.
But poorly trained and supervised police officers are only a symptom of the problem. Our police are a useful tool for whites to make sure others who don’t fit the mold know they are not welcome. These social distinctions benefit white people psychologically, economically and politically. Harassing and humiliating minorities is a Republican Party staple. “We must enforce the laws!" Riding a bike on the wrong side of the street of the street -- is that a law enforcement priority or an excuse?
What frustrates me most is that our mayor, City Council and the police chief do nothing. (See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil). The NAACP complains but our white business clubs in Corvallis just acquiesce to this behavior. Perhaps they agree with reminding “those people” of their place, or they fear white voter backlash. Maybe they have important priorities like getting all the bikes on the right side of the road. Maybe they just don’t care.
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When white leaders keep quiet, racist behavior multiplies. Injustices and indignities like Ms. Hansen experienced will continue in our Police Department, in our stores and on our streets until white people make it unacceptable behavior. If we want Corvallis to be a diverse, welcoming place, white people need to look in the mirror because we are the problem.
Rev. Jim Philipson
Corvallis (Oct. 24)