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Archive for July 2020

Oh Yes He Did!

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In the article, “The Culture War on Beavercreek Road,” Don Merrill talked with Nigel Bray about his Black Lives Matter sign being cut down by vandals. In response, Mr. Bray said “I’m going to mount a pole on high up in my tree beside the road and hang a “Black Lives Matter” flag.” One day after the article was posted, Mr. Bray was true to his word.

BLM Flag 2

Written by Interviewer

July 30, 2020 at 07:26

Posted in Scratchpad

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The Culture War on Beavercreek Road
By Don Merrill

Clackamas County in northwest Oregon is one of 36 counties in the state. Mostly rural, it had nearly 400-thousand residents as of the 2010 census, making it the third most populous. It’s marked by rolling hills, family farms and seemingly innocuous little country roads that are anything but when it comes to “Black Lives Matter” signs.

On or about Sunday, July 5th, 2020, Nigel Bray repainted his roadside business sign. That would open the door to a philosophical fight between hamlet residents that although full of surprises, according to Mr. Bray, is not over. Not by a long shot.

“That sign was out there on Beavercreek Road for 13 years,” said Mr. Bray, who is a white man. “After the death of George Floyd, I wanted to educate myself a little more.” “I have a daughter who’s a member of the LGBTQ community,” he said. “And after I retired, I thought, ‘I don’t want to be an ignorant white person.'” “So I read some books by white authors and black authors about different subjects like ‘White Fragility.'”

And that led to him change the lettering on his business sign from LiveEdge Woodshop to BLM. That acronym, made infamous in the West by the Federal Government’s Bureau of Land Management agency, has been adopted as shorthand to stand for Black Lives Matter.

BLM 1a

“Then, three days later, I saw that somebody had painted “Trump” on it,” said Mr. Bray. Indeed, by July 8th, the white sign with black lettering had been covered with red spray-paint. They had also spray painted “Go MAGA” on the shoulder of the road. But the day after that, Mr. Bray got another surprise. “Somebody tried to paint over the red paint,” he said. “And somebody else had left a card in a baggie that said, ‘You should’ve known this would happen to your sign. But thank you for doing it anyway.'” “That,” he said, “convinced me that I was on the right track.”

BLM 2a

“In contrast with the more liberal and cosmopolitan Multnomah County to the north, and the more corporate Washington County to the west,” Wikipedia says some citizens of Clackamas county “have espoused a blue-collar, yet conservative political outlook of the backlash mold. It is the headquarters of the Oregon Citizens Alliance which worked to pass a number of anti-homosexual initiatives, and where Bill Sizemore, who championed various anti-government initiatives in the 1990s, had his base before he moved nearly 200 miles south to Klamath Falls, Oregon.” However, says the site, “the county is a very mixed area overall, narrowly voting for Republican George W. Bush over Democrat John Kerry in 2004, but voting for Democrat Barack Obama over Republican John McCain in 2008.”

For Nigel Bray though, the Obama voters weren’t out on Beavercreek Road on the night of Saturday, July 11th. Barely six days after he had repurposed his business sign, someone cut it down.

BLM 3

“When do you think they did that?” I asked.

“They probably did it at night,” he said. “And since I’m a contractor, I’m guessing they used a battery operated circular saw.” The two, 4×4 inch posts that held the sign were each cut from two different directions. “I mounted those posts in concrete,” Bray says. “How they cut it tells me their saw blade wasn’t big enough to cut through the whole post, so they had to come at it from both sides.”

Cutting through them both, less than a foot above ground took time and dexterity. Plus, somebody had to see the perpetrator. But anyone willing to crawl around in the dark, wielding a circular saw next to a busy country road to destroy a sign couldn’t care much about being seen. They clearly have strong feelings about the message of Black Lives Matter. But so does Mr. Bray.

“By defacing my sign, you’ve shown you’re a racist. By cutting it down, you’ve shown you’re a criminal.”

“What are you going to do?” I asked.

“I’m going to mount a pole high up in my tree beside the road and hang a “Black Lives Matter” flag,” he says. The first thought that went through this reporter’s mind was, “Expect the haters that can’t reach it to complain to the county about the flag being a distraction to drivers.” The second one was, “put a camera up there too.”

This stretch of Beavercreek Road, known to locals as running from about Clackamas County Fire Station #10 to Spangler Road (a distance of a little more than a mile), has seen a variety of flying flags over the years, ranging from American to “Thin Blue Line” supporting police to Confederate. If Mr. Bray has his way, a new one will fill the sky in Clackamas County.

“I will not be deterred,” he said.
—–
Don Merrill is a journalist and a reporter. He lives in Clackamas County.

Written by Interviewer

July 28, 2020 at 15:27

Posted in Scratchpad