Washington County commissioners have endorsed a statement opposing racism, bigotry and violence, although the statement itself does not specify national and regional incidents that prompted it in the first place.
But all five commissioners said a statement was warranted in the aftermath of two events: An Aug. 12 clash between white supremacists and counterprotesters that left one person dead in Charlottesville, Va., and the May 26 stabbing on a light-rail train that left two people dead in Portland. The victims were attempting to shield two women from racist and anti-Muslim slurs allegedly uttered by the stabbing suspect.
"In light of many of the events that have been happening around the nation and locally, we have been asked what is Washington County's position on racism," Board Chairman Andy Duyck said.
"Our position has not changed. But we find that it's very important we make it explicit so that there is no question about it."
The statement was not on the formal agenda for the Sept. 5 business meeting, but was discussed at a work session beforehand. The commissioners also discussed the matter at a work session Aug. 22.
The statement was approved after the commissioners adopted a resolution observing Hispanic Heritage Month and listened to speakers from four county organizations.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Washington County's Hispanic population accounted for 16.5 percent of the total in mid-2016, up from 15.7 percent in the 2010 Census. The white-only population was 66.9 percent, down from 76.6 percent in 2010 — and was a lesser share than in Multnomah (70.6 percent) or Clackamas (82.5 percent) counties.
The statement in full:
"Washington County unequivocally rejects racism, bigotry and violence in all its forms. As a public organization serving one of Oregon's most racially and ethnically diverse communities, we have long stood for celebrating diversity; treating all people with dignity, honesty and respect; and demonstrating an understanding and appreciation for cultural, religious and other differences we may all have.
"For many years, our strongly held position has been reflected in a variety ways including policies, plans, rules, procedures, proclamations, and community and employee events. We stand with those who would support these values, the right to peaceably assemble and other principles adopted at the founding of our nation."
Adds context to May 26 stabbing deaths on a Portland light-rail train.