A dead raccoon and a sign with what’s described as “intimidating language” that mentioned a Black city councilor were left outside the law office of an Oregon mayor, police said.
Redmond Mayor Ed Fitch found the raccoon and the sign on Monday, the Redmond Police Department said in a news release. The sign mentioned Fitch and Redmond City Councilor Clifford Evelyn by name, police said.
According to the Associated Press, Fitch referred to the language on the sign as “racially hateful.” He declined to elaborate but told The Bulletin, “I feel bad for Clifford. It seems there’s some people in town that can’t accept the fact that Clifford is Black and is on the City Council.”
In order to preserve the integrity of the investigation, police are not disclosing the precise text of the sign, according to city spokesperson Heather Cassaro.
According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, Evelyn, a former police officer who was elected to the council in 2021, called the incident a hate crime and says he has confidence in the police investigation.
Raccoon imagery has long been used in the United States as a disparaging, anti-Black caricature. The Jim Crow Museum of Racist Imagery in Michigan describes it as “the most blatantly degrading of all Black stereotypes,” with roots in enslavement.
“The people in this part of the country are just gonna have to catch up,” Evelyn said. “It’s just the knuckleheads that can’t get on track. And they’re causing harm to everyone and making us look bad.