- To publicly declare that they do not support the Proud Boys and other white supremacist organizations and they will not seek their collaboration in protecting public safety.
- To go on public record that they are committed to identifying and removing any and all white supremacist connections to local law enforcement. Further, we encouraged them to take this as an opportunity to highlight their ongoing commitment to anti-racist training among their departments.
- To establish a meeting with us and other representatives from our community to proactively develop a strategy for securing spaces where people of color convene in Bend. With the recent announcement that the Trump administration will ramp up its ICE presence in sanctuary spaces, and because of what occurred in Bend a month ago, we have every reason to believe that this will embolden ICE to return to Central Oregon. In the event of a Trump loss in November, we sense the likelihood of violence, especially against people of color. We do not want to be caught flat-footed and we want to collaborate toward a comprehensive strategy that promotes safety, especially for our neighbors of color.
- Deny permits for any white supremacist organization that seeks to convene in Central Oregon.
We urged our BIPOC allies to starve the Proud Boys and their local supporters of all oxygen. We suggested that inaction may be the most potent action. Instead of mounting any kind of protest, we encouraged them to either get creative or simply stay at home.
Our Chief and Sheriff refused to go on public record. It was a predictable response and I question the wisdom of their inactivity.
We were able to collaborate with City Council in shaping a city-wide response that denounced white supremacy and committed to growing our collective understanding of how white supremacy has shaped and continues to impact our city. Drafting a carefully worded declaration was important. Engaging in the slow process of placing our city under the blacklight will be essential.
Our BIPOC organizers opted for getting creative. They chose a public location that was across town from where the Proud Boys and supports were believed to be and hosted a solidarity party complete with singing, stories, and opportunities to dream about a world free from the stronghold of white supremacy.
Unfortunately, those who adhere to white supremacist ideology shifted locations in order to get proximate to the BIPOC organizers, and, quite literally, all hell broke loose. Guns were drawn, tasers were used, punches were exchanged, and a young black woman was choked unconscious by a white police officer.
This afternoon, I shared a table with one of our allies who suffered a concussion on Saturday. When I asked why the decision was made by the BIPOC organizers to take any action at all, he said, “Because inaction would have communicated weakness…defeat.”
Before my question and his response, I quesetiond the wisdom of this particular activity…especially in light of the fatigue of our BIPOC relatives. Upon hearing his response, I understood their thinking and empathized with the position that they were in.
It’s led me to ponder how often I sacrifice wisdom at the altar of urgency. Renner and D’Souza suggest that addiction to quick action often disqualifies us from “adequate reflection, diagnosis, and exploration” (Not Doing, Location 651). The myth that immediate action (often in the form of reaction) is necessary often seems to interrupt the trust-building process that is necessary in order for lasting solutions to be co-created.
That said, I recognize the privilege that I have to offer such a statement as my decisions for inaction have rarely if ever, led to my defeat. Offhand, I have zero experience of being neither delegitimized nor disqualified because I chose inactivity.
Perhaps a way forward for leaders in these tumultuous times is to interrogate the intuition that generates our reactionary impulses. We need to ask questions like, “What has shaped our urgency to react or inertia toward inactivity?” We need to learn to walk like Jesus, a truly differentiated leader, in relationship and ever at the pace of trust.