The large signs posted on both sides of Highway 20’s Toledo business loop, reading “Timber Unity – Standing Up For Working Oregonians” have been ominously on my mind ever since I saw them for the first time.
They do not explain what standing up for working Oregonians means, nor what is endangering working Oregonians, nor what timber has to do with that. Secretive publicity feels intimidating. The number, size and prominent location of the signs on both sides of a thoroughfare that sees more traffic than any other in the city, especially traffic that connects with other population centers, makes one think that the message comes from all the people of Toledo, which cannot be the case, since the majority of its population is not employed by the timber industry. Oregonians referred to on the signs can only be a few. However, the tone used makes a person think twice before coming to Toledo for anything, including the annual Wooden Boat Festival or the Art Walk.
Timber Unity is a growing organization that exists statewide and beyond, is funded by the timber industry, and has recently made the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-government militia groups in Oregon (https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/ideology/antigovernment). The fact that it is a militia group should give all Oregonians pause and awaken their vigilance to actions taken and communications voiced by the group. Currently, hateful acts prompted by anti-government militias take place countrywide on a daily basis.
My thanks to our county commissioners, who have taken a clear stand against public expressions of hate and/or violence in our county. See Resolution # 21-19-4A, Denouncing Hate Groups, Hate Speech, and Violence Motivated by Hate, read out loud and commented on in the county commissioners meeting held on April 19.