Clackamas Democrats on edge after two vandalism incidents in past month
Clackamas County Democrats are on edge after the second attack on their county headquarters in less than a month.
On Monday night, someone shattered the Oregon City building’s front door and shot seven holes in its windows. The attack came just weeks after someone threw a brick through another window in late August.
Oregon City Police are investigating both incidents, which happened at night when the building was unoccupied. No other buildings in the area were targeted, and Clackamas County Democratic Chair Cris Waller told the Capital Chronicle she suspects it was a politically motivated attack.
“We’ve seen many incidents in Clackamas County with harassment of others by groups affiliated with the Proud Boys and other anti-Democratic groups,” she said. “So unfortunately, that level of political rhetoric has risen in our county, and it is harming the ability of people to simply engage in political discourse freely.”
Waller estimates repairs will cost several thousand dollars – the first broken window is expected to cost about $1,800. The party rents its office space, and while it’s had a good long-term relationship with its landlord, Waller said she would understand the landlord not wanting to renew its lease because of the risk of vandalism.
Party volunteers and candidates who use it as a home base are apprehensive following the incidents..
“As we’re heading into campaign season, our office gets busier and busier, not just with us but with campaigns that utilize our office as well,” Waller said. “And many of the meetings that we have happen at night, and so incidents like this have a very chilling effect on democracy in our society.”
Politicians from the area condemned the vandalism. Rep. Annessa Hartman, D-Gladstone, said all Oregonians deserve to feel safe in their communities, no matter their political party.
“We must denounce violence in all its forms, and I strongly condemn these acts of vandalism,” Hartman said. “In a democracy, you show up and debate your case. You voice your concerns and opinions. You work to build consensus and community. You don’t cowardly hide behind acts of terror.”
U.S. Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer, the Republican who represents Clackamas County in Congress, tweeted a condemnation.
“I strongly condemn all politically motivated vandalism and violence,” she said. “We must be able to have disagreements in a civil and respectful manner. Destroying property is never the answer.”
And Jamie McLeod-Skinner, the Democrat who lost to Chavez-DeRemer last year and is running again, said increasing extremism and hate led to senseless attacks.
“Regardless of party, we must come together and find common ground to build a better Oregon for us all,” McLeod-Skinner said. “Violence against the democratic process is unacceptable. We must protect not only our rights to the ballot box, but the safety of our voters and volunteers participating in the electoral process.”
The vandalism at the Clackamas County headquarters is far from the only attack on political organizations in Oregon in recent years.
Three Oregon anti-abortion organizations were targeted by arsonists last summer, according to the FBI. At least one of the attacks against the Mother and Child Education Center in Portland appeared to be politically motivated, with taggers spray-painting the words “IF ABORTION AINT SAFE NEITHER RU JR” on the building.
Eight people who identified themselves as anti-fascists were arrested in January 2021 for breaking windows, lighting a dumpster on fire and spraypainting at the Democratic Party of Oregon headquarters in Portland during a protest over President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
And the Douglas County Republican Party headquarters in downtown Roseburg was vandalized seven times in 2020. A man convicted for three of the attacks was sentenced to two years of probation earlier this year.