Friends of the Columbia Gorge Statement
"The conservation community cannot be silent any longer on issues of justice, equality, and access to the outdoors," says Friends Executive Director Kevin Gorman.
Press Contact: Burt Edwards, communications director | 703.861.8237 (Cell) | email@example.com (email)
PORTLAND, OR – On April 8, the Oregon State Senate Energy and Environment Committee approved SB 289. As amended, the bill would help protect the public from bias crimes by prohibiting persons convicted of violations of ORS 166.155 and ORS 166.165 on public lands from using state parks and state waters for a period of at least six months, but not longer than five years. It would also suspend or revoke licenses for recreation uses and prohibit the issuance of licenses for a period of at least six months, but not longer than five years.
In reaction to the bill's advancement to the Senate floor, Friends of the Columbia Gorge Executive Director Kevin Gorman stated:
"The time has come for the Columbia Gorge and all Oregon public lands to be safe for all. Oregonians visiting the Gorge shouldn't have to fear that they and their loved ones might be harassed or attacked due to their skin color, gender identity, or ethnic background. Oregon can turn the page by enacting new legislation (SB 289) that sets strong standards for penalties and mandates restorative justice activities when hate and bias crimes are committed in Oregon parks, public lands, or waters."
"The conservation community cannot be silent on issues of justice, equality, and access to the outdoors. Our communities and the natural areas we protect should be refuges, safe spaces for all people. No one should ever feel unwelcome or unsafe on public lands in the Columbia Gorge. At a time when hate and bias crimes are increasing around the country, including here in the Pacific Northwest, we can and must do better."
- Text of SB 289 and SB 289 amendments: https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2021R1/Measures/ProposedAmendments/SB289
- According to a fall 2020 report: "Hate crimes in the U.S. rose to the highest level in more than a decade as federal officials also recorded the highest number of hate-motivated killings since the FBI began collecting that data in the early 1990s, according to an FBI report released Monday. … There were 7,314 hate crimes last year, up from 7,120 the year before — and approaching the 7,783 of 2008." https://www.registerguard.com/story/news/2020/11/16/hate-crimes-u-s-reach-highest-level-more-than-decade/6316146002/
- In Oregon, according to reports, hate crimes and bias incidents spiked 366% last year. Last March: "nearly 18% of the reports came from the state’s Asian American and Pacific Islander community. In April, that number climbed to nearly 20% as fear over the coronavirus spread." https://www.opb.org/news/article/hate-bias-crime-incidents-covid-19-asian-americans-oregon/
- In 2019, the Oregon legislature passed SB 577, which updated Oregon’s bias crime laws (formerly called intimidation), defined the new legal term bias incidents, created a victim-centered response hotline for reporting bias, requires law enforcement to refer all victims of bias incidents to support services, and streamlines data collection about bias occurring in Oregon. https://www.doj.state.or.us/oregon-department-of-justice/bias-crimes/about-the-law/
# # #
Friends of the Columbia Gorge is a conservation organization with over 6,500 members dedicated to protecting, preserving, and stewarding the Columbia Gorge for future generations. Friends maintains an office in Portland, Oregon, as well as in two Gorge towns—Hood River, Oregon, and Washougal, Washington. Learn more: gorgefriends.org or follow us: @GorgeFriends