Redmond, Oregon, Mayor Ed Fitch arrived at work Monday morning to a disturbing sight — someone had placed a dead raccoon against his office door, with a racist note directed at Redmond City Councilor Clifford Evelyn, who is Black.
The Redmond Police Department is investigating the act as a potential hate crime.
Fitch, who is white, said he found the scene at the front door of his law practice and soon after called the police and City Manager Keith Witcosky.
Police blurred what was written on the note in a news release containing a photo. Fitch said the message was obviously racist.
“It was clearly in my mind a hate message, mostly towards Councilor Evelyn,” Fitch said.
Evelyn, a retired law enforcement officer, was elected to the council in 2021, becoming the city’s first ever Black councilor.
He declined to specify exactly what the written note said, citing the ongoing police investigation. Evelyn said, however, that the dead raccoon made the perpetrator’s racist intentions clear.
Racoon imagery has long been used as an insulting, anti-Black caricature. With roots in American slavery, it’s among “the most blatantly degrading of all Black stereotypes,” according to the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Imagery.
“This is a hate crime, plain and simple,” Evelyn said. “I have complete confidence in the Redmond Police Department.”
It’s the latest example of racist incidents in one of Oregon’s fastest growing cities. In 2020, a Black Redmond teen discovered a threatening message on her doorstep. In 2021, Redmond resident Scott Stuart prominently displayed a Confederate flag at the city’s Fourth of July parade, as the Bend Bulletin reported.
In 2022, Stuart garnered 5,423 votes — nearly 25% of total votes — in an unsuccessful Republican primary election bid for the Deschutes County Commission.
Evelyn said another local resident recently mentioned slavery during a council meeting, even though the topic had nothing to do with the agenda item.
“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.”
Police are encouraging anyone with information about the incident to call Deschutes County non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911.