Portland councilor says she was threatened for speaking out against white supremacist banner

Feb. 6—Portland City Councilor Victoria Pelletier said Monday she received a barrage of threats and hateful messages over the weekend following a social media post she made condemning a banner recently displayed in Congress Square that said, "It's OK to be white."

During Monday's City Council meeting, an emotional Pelletier said she talked in her post about how disgusted and disappointed she was by the banner.

"I was made aware of other instances in which similar signs have been hung around Portland with similar rhetoric, and I'm so disappointed with where we are as a city when three years ago the streets were packed with people doing whatever they could to call out white supremacy," Pelletier said.

Pelletier said her post was shared on an anonymous messaging site, and she found out the message board contained posts talking about her with comments, false statements and threats.

"The worst part was comments about me and things that should happen to me because I spoke out against white supremacy," Pelletier said. "That I should be violently hurt. That I should be beaten. That I should be shot. That I should be killed."

She said she also received threats and hate mail on her phone and to her council email. "I spent the entire weekend receiving an influx of violent threats ... for simply speaking out against the harmfulness of white supremacy," Pelletier said.

The full council is expected to issue a statement on the issue Tuesday, though councilors also condemned what happened Monday night.

"This Portland City Council stands in support of BIPOC communities," said Mayor Kate Snyder. "I along with members of the City Council are denouncing recent expressions that instill fear and separation in our community. We join in solidarity with our BIPOC neighbors to encourage inclusion and respect for all members of our community."

"I am appalled that this hate exists here," said Councilor April Fournier. "It is not who we are as a community. We protect each other. We stand up for each other and reject hateful actions like this."

Several people who spoke during public comment said they support Pelletier.

"I want to thank her for speaking up and for continuing to speak up for herself and other people," said Kelsey Riordan. "To show such grace in the face of absolute terror is awe-inspiring and also unfair to put on someone. Even if they are a leader, they don't deserve to listen to hatred."

Michelle Souliere, who owns a bookshop on Congress Street, said the banner was not an isolated incident and people in the neighborhood of Avon and Congress streets recently had to pull down white supremacist fliers.

"This is just a symptom of an ongoing push from racists and white supremacists who are often operating under the cover of night but are clearly coming out in the daytime now," Souliere said. "I would very much like to see this community pull together and let them know this is not OK."