The Multiracial Advocacy Blog-Hate Crime Update
Activists stage rally against hate crimes in Springfield
SPRINGFIELD — Community activists have rallied against hate crimes after authorities accused four young white people of threatening a biracial teenager on Memorial Day.
Meanwhile, police arrested a fifth person and investigated spray-painted swastikas and racist messages in a neighborhood where one suspect lives, the Eugene Register-Guard reported Thursday.
At the gathering of about 50 people outside City Hall on Wednesday afternoon, Springfield City Councilor Sheri Moore told the rally participants she has an adopted son who is black, and her family has experienced discrimination. But, she said, only a minority of local residents have racist attitudes.
“Springfield, as you can see, is a community of caring people,” Moore said. “We outnumber the others, and will work together to eliminate hate.”
That came hours after police announced they had booked Brandon James Ricker, 19, on charges of attempted intimidation, hindering prosecution and evidence tampering.
Police said they interviewed him while trying to track down the other suspects and told him to keep quiet. Instead, police said, he told 22-year-old Eugene resident Matthew Booster to flee and then deleted a series of text messages that he and Booster had exchanged.
Prosecutors later decided not to press the charges as long as Ricker cooperates as a witness in the case, said Police Capt. Rich Harrison.
Police said Booster was driving a yellow pickup truck flying a Confederate flag on Memorial Day in downtown Springfield. Booster and three teens inside yelled racial slurs and got out of the truck to chase the 15-year-old, who had been walking and escaped by hiding in bushes until his mother arrived, police said.
All four were charged with intimidation. Prosecutors made Booster’s charge a felony. The other three are to be prosecuted in juvenile court on misdemeanor charges.
Harrison said investigators are still trying to identify the people responsible for spray-painting swastikas and racist messages throughout a neighborhood in which one of the suspects resides. The graffiti was reported Sunday and Monday at several locations.
After the rally, participants asked downtown business owners to post “Hate Free Zone” leaflets.
Marion Malcolm, who coordinates a Community Alliance of Lane County program called Springfield Alliance for Equality and Respect, commended police and city officials for their response.
“They have stayed on the case,” Malcolm said.
Published Daily in Bend Oregon by Western Communications, Inc. © 2011
By The Associated Press
Published: June 08. 2012 4:00AM PST