This letter pertains to Curry County Sheriff John Ward’s Facebook post June 2 in which he warned of “3 (busloads) of antifa” headed our way “looking for a fight.” In his post he said he was “sure we have a lot of local boys too, with guns that will protect our citizens and their property”. Ward admitted he didn’t know whether the rumor was true or not but posted it anyway.
Ward’s judgment in posting the rumor on Facebook fell embarrassingly short of the kind of leadership we should be able to expect from a top elected law enforcement official. According to Ward’s interview on a local TV news show, the rumor came second hand from Curry County Attorney Huttl. Ward said he had talked to Coos County Sheriff Zanni and he was in Coquille with all his deputies, Coquille and Myrtle Point Police Departments... "waiting just in case."
We are alarmed that our officials are so easily duped. According to Channel 10 reporter Christiana Guardinelli, Facebook and Twitter said that the instigators of the rumor were members of the white-supremacist group, Identity Evropa. Spreading threatening misinformation was part of an organized effort to force people into opposing camps and cause more chaos at a time when people are already fearful and confused. Similar tactics are being used all over rural America to induce fear of an enemy which does not exist.
Antifa is not an organization. It is an opinion. If you are against fascism, you are antifa. Facebook is a dangerous, unreliable place to get your news. Encouraging citizens to take up arms against peaceful demonstrators is fascism. We must stop thinking of one another as the enemy. The use of dehumanizing rhetoric left unchecked will eventually destroy civil society.
Members of Indivisible North Curry County (Jane Odson, Rich Folden, Casey Folden, Mary Gemmel, Carren Copeland, Teresa Menzel, Jack Pruitt, Elaine Owen, Joy May, Bret Cecil, Jerry and Diana Marmon, Malcolm Young and Dennis Espeland)