Our Commitment to Anti-Racism & the First Amendment

By Lauren Elkanich (OPB)
June 11, 2020 7:29 p.m.

From OPB President and CEO Steve Bass:

The past several weeks have been wrenching. The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many other Black Americans—and the underlying injustices—have fueled massive protests across the country and the world.

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OPB is a journalistic organization. Our goal is to provide you and everyone in this region with accurate information so we can make informed decisions.

Many of the issues we examine have at least two sides. But we must take a clear stand on certain issues. We stand firm against racism and we stand firm for the First Amendment.

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OPB is an institution committed to anti-racism.

Racism doesn't have two sides. It's a scourge. We have no obligation to balance anti-racism with racist perspectives. We will continue to highlight how our past built on racism impacts us today. We will examine how policies often lead to unequal outcomes for people of color.

Recent weeks have also seen attacks on journalists and peaceful protesters. The First Amendment is fundamental to OPB's work. "Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press" makes journalism the only profession specifically protected under the Constitution.

But we deeply value the other parts of the First Amendment, too: the right to free speech, the right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances, and the right of people to peaceably assemble—as so many are doing in communities large and small.

These rights are fundamental to a free society. They are fundamental to the ability of people to advocate for change.

These are extraordinary times. To serve effectively, OPB is changing. We’re working to authentically share more stories from people of all backgrounds and lift up more voices of those experiencing injustice. We’re also taking a hard look at ourselves, to ensure that we are not inadvertently harming our own staff and colleagues. I’ll share more with you soon about that work, and how our organization is evolving.

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