Less than two weeks after taking office, a new Clackamas County commissioner is under fire and facing calls to resign after a resident published a website documenting alleged xenophobic comments he has made on social media since 2019.
Mark Shull was the surprising winner over incumbent Ken Humberston last November, in a runoff race in which he appeared to be trailing significantly before later returns were tabulated.
The comments — covering his views on immigrants, people of color, Muslims, and other marginalized groups — were compiled into a blog titled “Documenting Mark Shull’s Racism” by county resident Chris Waller.
Waller is also the House District 40 chair for the Clackamas County Democratic Party, but she told The Oregonian her dive into Shull’s Facebook posts were independent of her work with that organization.
The Estacada News first reported the story.
The posts range from racist comments about his alleged experiences with Muslims to extreme takes on the relationship between the United States and Islam.
A post from July 2019 reads, “When you interact with a Muslim, you’re being deceived. Period. End of sentence.”
“This is how it starts,” he said in a post 13 months ago, documenting the alleged “Muslim invasion” of the United Kingdom. “The way it ends is you and yours are…dead. Not my idea, that would be the word from every Imam and every Ayatollah.”
“I visited the Mall of America with my mom last year,” he said in October 2019. “It was like walking into the Mall of Islam. I think we were the only two non muslims that day. Never got one smile that day from any Muslims…It was a horrifying experience…Not a friendly face in the crowd of Akbars.”
Waller’s website, which also contains screenshots of each post, further documents derogatory comments Shull allegedly made with regard to immigrants, transgender people and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Last September, Shull also linked the destructive wildfires in rural Clackamas County to the work of antifa — a conspiracy theory for which law enforcement repeatedly said there was no evidence.
Some of Shull’s posts have been taken down, including by Facebook, and Waller also documented instances of the commissioner complaining about the social media giant’s “censoring” of his comments and those by other conservatives.
In a statement to media outlets, Shull apologized for concerns about his comments — without disavowing the comments themselves.
“I apologize for any concerns in the community related to my comments years ago about problems with integration of Islam into western society.” he said. “I respect the freedom of religion that extends to members of the Islamic community, as well as to all religious beliefs.”
Nevertheless, he promised to work toward “increasing understanding and cooperation amongst all new immigrants to our nation” and to the county.
“I welcome member of the Islam community and I look forward to working with that community in the future,” he said. “We are all Americans. We all need to be heard and to have our opinions and beliefs respected. I am here as the County Commissioner to serve everyone regardless of race, creed or religion.”
The story comes amid an unprecedented crackdown by social media companies in the wake of a violent riot at the U.S. Capitol Building that left at least five dead and was stoked by incendiary rhetoric and baseless conspiracy theories about election fraud that were shared on Facebook and Twitter.
President Donald Trump himself was among those who lost access to his social media platforms, along with some of his supporters whom the companies said violated their terms of service.
It also coincides with the appointment of Kayse Jama to the Oregon Senate, representing a district that includes northern Clackamas County and east Portland. Jama, a Somali refugee, is the first Muslim to serve as an Oregon state senator.
Out of 10 commissioners from Clackamas and Multnomah counties, only Shull expressed reservations about Jama’s appointment, saying he favored another nominee he felt would be better equipped for the issues of 2021.
However, along with the nine other commissioners, he did ultimately vote to elevate Jama to the state Senate.