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Oregon GOP leadership refuses to vote in support of bill to make displaying a noose a hate crime

April 6, 2021

For Immediate Release
Contact: Tim McCann
[email protected]

In a reprehensible display of the Oregon Republican Party’s priorities, the Oregon GOP’s Chair and Treasurer – both members of the Oregon Senate – refused to vote in support of a bill that would make displaying a noose a hate crime.

Senate Bill 398, a bill sponsored by Democratic Senators Ginny Burdick and James I. Manning Jr., would categorize the act of displaying a noose as a crime of intimidation. The bill passed the Senate on Thursday by a 27-1 vote. As Senator Manning remarked upon passage of SB 398, “the noose is a racist relic. Its roots lie in fear and hate. … This should have been a law much sooner.”

Oregon GOP Chair Dallas Heard did not vote on the bill on the Senate Floor, following a pattern of votes where he either votes No on every bill, or “leaves the chamber on bills where a no would look bad,” in protest of COVID-19 safety precautions at the Capitol.

Oregon GOP Treasurer Dennis Linthicum voted No on the bill, and was the lone No vote in the Senate. Every single Senate Democrat voted Yes on the bill, and the other nine Senate Republicans voted Yes. Both Heard and Linthicum voted No on the bill when it was in Committee.

“It is alarming and an embarrassment that the two Oregon Senators who also serve in the leadership of the Oregon Republican Party refused to vote to affirm that displaying a noose is an act of hate and deliberate intimidation,” said Democratic Party of Oregon Vice Chair and Black Caucus Chair Dr. Rosa Colquitt. “Heard and Linthicum’s refusal to vote in support of this long-overdue bill speaks volumes about the priorities of the people at the wheel of the Oregon GOP.”

Rather than work to provide input on bills or try to improve them, Heard’s ongoing protest against COVID-19 safety precautions at the Capitol is both a disservice to his constituents and flies in the face of scientific evidence. Even with extensive safety protocols at the Capitol, Oregon legislators and their staff are still at risk of exposure to COVID-19. Just last week the Oregon House cancelled floor sessions because of multiple confirmed COVID-19 cases within the Capitol. Opening the Capitol up, just as health officials warn of a potential resurgence of cases, would put legislators and staff at even greater risk.

“By insisting on voting No on every bill that comes up, or by refusing to even show up for votes, Heard’s actions are a perfect encapsulation of the modern day GOP,” said Democratic Party of Oregon Chair Carla “KC” Hanson. “After all, not one Republican in Congress voted for the American Rescue Plan, and Oregon’s only Republican Congressman Cliff Bentz has voted No on the American Rescue Plan, the For the People Act, the Violence Against Women Act, the Equality Act, and more. And as Oregonians know all too well, Oregon Republicans — including Heard — have walked off the job and refused to show up to work in order to subvert our democracy multiple times in the last three years.”

This is just the latest example of the Oregon Republican Party’s misguided priorities. In January, the Oregon GOP passed a resolution claiming that the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol was a ‘False Flag’ and compared it to the Reichstag Fire. Then in February, Republican Party members “embraced fringe conservatives” when they elected Heard and Linthicum to fill out their new leadership, in an election held indoors where “few, if any, people wore masks.

In contrast, last month Oregon Democrats met virtually to safely and securely cast their ballots to elect our Democratic Party of Oregon officers for the next two years, in accordance with COVID-19 safety protocols, and to protect the health and well-being of our State Central Committee members.