Leaders of several educators’ unions at Clackamas Community College are denouncing an unsanctioned vehicle rally staged at the college’s Oregon City campus last week in support of President Donald Trump — which they say featured “armed militants” and “white nationalists.”
Sue Mach, an English instructor at CCC, read a letter to President Tim Cook and the college’s Board of Education during a virtual meeting Wednesday night, which was in response to the pro-Trump rally on Labor Day that participants said drew an estimated 1,500 attendees.
“The rally included armed protestors associated with Patriot Prayer and Proud Boys, white nationalists that have been categorized as extremist groups,” said the letter, which was signed by leaders and members of the associations representing the college’s faculty and classified employees.
“While respecting the right to free speech and free assembly, we must work together as a community to denounce extremist organizations and promote the values of diversity, equity and inclusion put forth in the resolution crafted by the College and unanimously adopted by the Board on June 24th,” Mach read.
The letter also references a previous communication from Cook to the college community, in which he described the gathering as an unsanctioned “flash rally” that was “not reflective of who are and what we care about.”
The Board of Education also responded to the gathering in a Sept. 11 letter to media outlets, in which it said it was “not pleased about the negative impact this rally had on the college community.”
A college spokesperson told OPB that the school was not aware of the gathering, which came just over a week after a similar caravan through downtown Portland preceded violent clashes with demonstrators — including one that left Aaron J. Danielson, a 39-year-old conservative activist, dying in the street, with a gunshot wound to the chest.
The rally drew national media attention.
“The organizers did not go through the standard process for events such as this,” Lori Hall, the head of the college’s public relations department, told OPB. “For the safety of participants and the general public, the college is working with the Oregon City Police Department.”
It was “unfortunate” that the college was informed of the rally only shortly before it took place, Mach said, and adequate accommodations could not be made for those on campus for unrelated reasons, such as TriMet riders using the campus transfer hub.
“There appeared to be insufficient consideration given to the protection of TriMet passengers from armed militants, or to the effect on bus riders, including those of color, of hateful rhetoric and signs that were displayed,” Mach said. “To those who viewed the rally that day or later in the media, the role of the college in making this event possible was, at best, unclear. We may forever be associated with it.”
The letter also lamented that “most participants at the rally” failed to follow the college’s strict Covid-19 restrictions, including practicing social distancing and wearing face coverings.
“It does not reflect well on the college to ban students from campus in the interest of public well-being, then subsequently allow white nationalist groups to openly flaunt our policies,” Mach said.
“Even if the college was ultimately powerless to prevent these hate groups from invading our campus, it should always be clear that we do not willingly acquiesce to their presence. Complicity with violence and hate is intolerable. While we can’t erase the past, we must work diligently to prevent events like this from happening again.”
The educators who signed the letter offered their assistance to President Cook and the board in “denouncing our association with the rally and the hateful values on display there,” and asked for a meeting with officials to ask “how the event was allowed to happen” and discuss policies that would prevent such gatherings from occurring in the future.
Participants who were at the rally told The Canby Current that it was in support of President Trump’s reelection bid, as well as a “Back the Blue” pro-police demonstration. Participating trucks and other vehicles bore American flags, some in the “Thin Blue Line” style, and Trump-Pence banners.
They said they were unaware of the presence of any right-wing groups such as the Proud Boys or Patriot Prayer, and that they saw no firearms being openly carried.
See below for the full letter by Clackamas Community College educators, staff and association leaders:
Below, an earlier letter to the editor from the CCC Board of Education responding to the Trump rally:
Help us build a sustainable news organization to serve Canby for generations to come! Let us know if you can support our efforts to expand our operations and keep all of our content paywall-free. #SwimWithTheCurrent!