July 22, 2024

Whole Community News

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Public asks about alleged racist behavior by Eugene councilor

4 min read
Eugene residents are still asking for details about alleged racist behavior by Eugene City Councilor Matt Keating, two months after the issue was first raised in a public meeting.

A River Road resident asks why Eugene has still not addressed an allegation of racism on the City Council, first raised in a public session Dec. 14:

[00:00:10] Councilor Greg Evans: I am not going to be influenced by racial politics played by certain people at this table… it’s racist, it’s repugnant, and it’s against everything…I have worked for, I have stood for in terms of civil rights, civil liberties, and diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.

[00:00:37] John Q: Councilor Evans subsequently called out fellow Councilor Matt Keating. In an interview Jan. 15:

[00:00:44] Councilor Greg Evans: I got a phone call from an old colleague, an old friend of mine that Councilor Keating had called and asked to call me to influence my vote, but was calling me to let me know the tone and tenor of that conversation… And as we had continued to talk, we said, ‘Well, you know, this is a pretty racist move. You know, this is not okay.’

[00:01:13] John Q: Ward 2 constituents asked for a full accounting. At a neighborhood meeting in January:

[00:01:20] Jess Roshak (Southeast Neighbors board): Just to review, at the Dec. 14 city council meeting, Councilor Evans stated that a fellow member of council acted against him in a racist and repugnant manner, counter to everything he had worked his career to accomplish.

[00:01:34] It’s my belief that voting citizens should receive a full report with accurate and truthful details about these allegations, about acts Evans is referencing in his public remarks at the meeting. To my knowledge, an official report is not being furnished by the City of Eugene.

[00:01:53] It’s my belief that as a neighborhood association board, with the mission to promote awareness of important city issues, equity in our community, and a sense of community and belonging for all, we have a duty to ask for an account of the details surrounding this event.

[00:02:08] And it’s my understanding that, you know, we’re all complicit if there are merits to the allegations and we don’t say something or we don’t engage a conversation about it.

[00:02:21] Ela Kubok (Southeast Neighbors board): I think that it is within our role as a board to have an opinion about it, if it has to do with someone who’s representing our community. So I think like asking for an explanation and transparency from the City of Eugene, I don’t see why we wouldn’t do it as a whole board. Because we really just like, don’t know what happened. We just heard like hearsay. And I think it’s a question that’s worth asking.

[00:02:49] John Q: Councilor Keating was present at that meeting but remained silent and did not offer an explanation. He chose not to attend the neighborhood’s February meeting. Monday night, a River Road resident asked why the city has still not addressed the issue. During public comment February 13:

[00:03:07] Charlie Rojas: Hi, I’m Charlie Rojas and I live in the River Road area of Ward 7. For over two years, the River Road and Santa Clara Community Organizations have used their monthly meetings as platforms for social justice education. Topics include systemic racism, white supremacy, and my favorite, white fragility. As a second-generation Mexican-American, I’ve never seen nor experienced any of those things. Nevertheless, I keep an open mind and if city-chartered organizations claim such things exist, they must know what they’re talking about.

[00:03:35] But a few weeks ago, Greg Evans, Eugene’s only African-American councilperson, stated in an interview that he was a victim of racism directed at him by a fellow councilperson. How could this be? After all, Eugene keeps reminding us that racism, intolerance, and exclusion will not be tolerated. Yard signs throughout the River Road, Santa Clara area, disseminated by RRCO / SCCO, say the same thing.

[00:03:57] But after describing what occurred, Greg Evans made a compelling and very disturbing case that in fact, a repugnant racist incident was directed at him, in that one of your colleagues believes that the only African-American councilperson couldn’t possibly make the right decision, therefore he needed to be coaxed to do what that person thought was right.

[00:04:14] So what is Eugene’s political and administrative apparatus going to do about this? This is a civil rights matter. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is located at 405 E. 8th Ave., Suite 2400.

[00:04:26] Is the council going to condemn, or at least reprimand, who Councilperson Evans said did this to him? With your failure to properly address this problem, it becomes apparent that claims of the importance of justice, equity, and inclusion are empty rhetoric.

[00:04:40] If you’re going to ignore this situation, get the RRCO / SCCO to quit their virtue invocation and posturing. Stop using taxpayer resources for printing up signs, pretending you care about things you don’t.

[00:04:51] John Q: Declining questions from the media, and declining opportunities to respond in public meetings, Councilor Keating continues to remain silent on the issue. Two months later, the public continues to ask the Eugene City Council for answers.

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