Redmond, Ore — Someone left a dead raccoon and a sign with "intimidating language" that mentioned a Black city councilor outside the law office of an Oregon mayor, police said.
Redmond Mayor Ed Fitch found the raccoon and the sign on Monday, the Redmond Police Department said in a news release. The sign mentioned Fitch and Redmond City Councilor Clifford Evelyn by name, police said.
Fitch called the sign's language "racially hateful." He declined to elaborate but told The Bulletin, "I feel bad for Clifford. It seems there's some people in town that can't accept the fact that Clifford is Black and is on the City Council."
Police said they are investigating the act as a potential hate crime.
Fitch told the newspaper the sign's author "doesn't write very well and didn't have the courage to sign it," adding that he hasn't seen anything like this during his time as mayor.
Police aren't revealing the sign's exact language in order to maintain the integrity of the investigation, city spokesperson Heather Cassaro said. The Bulletin cited her in saying that's why a photo they provided was intentionally blurred.
Evelyn, a retired law enforcement officer who was elected to the council in 2021, described the act as a hate crime but said he has confidence in the police investigation, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
Raccoon imagery has long been an insulting, anti-Black caricature in the United States. With roots in slavery, it's among "the most blatantly degrading of all Black stereotypes," according to the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Imagery in Michigan.
In recent years, a Black Redmond teenager found a threatening message on her doorstep, and a failed Deschutes County Commission candidate displayed a Confederate flag at the city's Fourth of July parade.
"The people in this part of the country are just gonna have to catch up," Evelyn said. "It's just the knuckleheads that can't get on track. And they're causing harm to everyone and making us look bad."
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