The latest chapter in our chronicle of vehicular violence and the threat of people intentionally driving their cars into vulnerable road users comes from just across Portland city limits in Gresham. And what’s even more cause for concern this time around is that it involves an employee of the City of Gresham Transportation Division.
According to a story published yesterday in The Gresham Outlook, Gresham TD Field Operations Supervisor Doug Holley is under investigation for having a large sticker in the window of his personal vehicle that read, “All Lives Splatter: Nobody Cares About Your Protest.” The sticker included an image of an SUV running over people.
Here’s more form the Outlook:
According to a city employee, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, Field Operations Supervisor Doug Holley had the window sticker on his personal truck while parked outside a city-owned building near Hogan Butte Nature Park on Friday, June 5.
Three complaints filed to the city stated the bumper sticker was “very violent and racist” and was poorly representing the city of Gresham as Holley was allegedly on the clock while driving the truck.
Allegedly, after complaints about “All Lives Splatter,” the truck Holley was driving had a new sticker in the same location. The second sticker showed an image of President Donald Trump holding up his middle finger with the words “Nobody cares about your protest.”
This reprehensible sentiment is becoming more common due to the month-long protests against systemic racism and policy brutality following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
In early May we shared the story of a man who shot a bicycle rider after chasing him in a large SUV. And in the last month alone we’ve documented seven separate incidents of people driving cars into protestors, including one case of a man driving over participants in the Black Liberation Ride on June 19th.
And this is not a new phenomenon. More than three years ago we began taking a closer look at vehicular violence. In 2018 we learned that two Portland business owners joked online that the way to deal with protestors is to, “drive right thru [sic] killing as many as who will stand in my way” and that, “running over bicyclists and pedestrians is the only way they’ll learn.” Eight days after that story we reported on a man who was arrested for driving his truck through people who were protesting downtown against the shooting of Patrick Kimmons by a Portland Police officer.
The fact that a Gresham city employee would place a sticker like this on his vehicle is even more shocking given that it was just five years ago that Russel Courtier, a man with ties to white supremacist groups, intentionally drove his Jeep into a Black man named Larnell Bruce and killed him. And just last year Courtier was found guilty of a hate crime and sentenced to 28 years in prison.
We hope the City of Gresham takes this very seriously. We asked the City Manager’s office for a response this morning and they confirmed they’re aware of the situation and that, “An investigation is underway and the City is reviewing the matter.”
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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I’ve seen trucks with nooses hanging in the olde town area of Gresham. Sad.
Reprehensible? Yes? Racist? That’s a stretch even for stumptown. Free speech? Also yes.
you know what’s free? Removing valve cores. It’s quite easy. Not vandalism. Leave the valve cores in the valves unscrewed.
Of course it’s vandalism. Besides, what’s the point? Would he even know why? Would such vandalism influence his behavior for the better?
I should have added, write a note.
With your name and address, right?
PS – Not racist? Do you think that decal was marketed before the recent protest marches? Have you followed the dialectic between “Black Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter?”
Given that the protests happening currently–that the sticker mentions–are almost 100% anti-racism protests, and the sticker mocks the slogan “Black Lives Matter”, and shows a vehicle being driven into protesters and describes it as “splattering” them, calling the sticker “racist” seems accurate.
The only thing I see as a reason for not calling it racist is that the victims being splattered aren’t clearly shown to be a particular race. But does that matter? Was it not racist, when segregationists killed white civil rights workers in the 60s, because they were white?
To suggest this isn’t anything but a racist, anti-black retort to the Black-led message and movement that is Black Lives Matter is deeply myopic. Refrains like this continue a long sordid history of white people dismissing, belittling, and mocking Black people’s tradition of protest and resistance while marginalizing their demands for dignity and justice. Also not a free speech issue. Doug Holley has every right to blabber this garbage just not while he is on duty representing the City of Gresham. Either way there is no escaping the fact that he will and should be held responsible for his hateful speech.
Gresham is not Portland.
Neither is Beaverton
Yes, Portland is this liberal island in an otherwise very conservative state. Even the Oregon Democratic Party is amazingly conservative – they support concealed handguns, increased speeds on freeways, and the notorious RQ project, for just 3 examples. I’m always amused when Portlanders get worked up and scandalized by what happens in the parts of Oregon they don’t control (which is the vast majority of it, including apparently everything east of 82nd).
Nobody here has yet to prove that it’s racist only that it’s not not racist. Complete difference folks.
You’re absolutely not wrong, you took the words straight out of my covid-19 spittle bra!
Just because you fail to see the proof doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Let me help you. Imagine this sticker: a hook nosed Hillary Clinton is shown tied to pole with flames underneath and text that says, “Burn the witch! Mazal tov!”. None of the parts of make sense unless you are trading in certain attitudes, namely sexism and Antisemitism. Right. Why draw her with pronounced nose? Its charactiture that has been used for Jewish people. Why the witch metaphor? One would have to know that at one point women who disagreed with (male) authorities were killed as witches. Same with this sticker. Co-opting “Black Lives Matter” and a subtext of “Nobody cares about your protest” require one to have knowledge to know its talking about a specific group. Its a graphic Shibboleth test for those who think a specific group and most especially their concerns belong under the wheels of someone’s pickup.
I am not sure I know what it means to call Portland “liberal” and I don’t know what it means to call the rest of Oregon “conservative.” Eric K. Ward observes the fallacy of these generalizations in an excellent recent piece in Oregon Humanities:
Like all overgeneralizations, it’s easy to find fault with this one. But looking at who gets elected does reveal some real patterns that support the notion that there’s some truth to the urban/rural divide.
Nice piece. Thank you for passing it on.
Great article. Thanks for sharing Jim.
Fire the man and revoke his driver’s licenses permanently. He has no place in a public service job.
Well that’s a pointless take. You can’t lose your driver’s license for expressing yourself. We’ve all seen the stickers along the lines of ‘keep honking, i’m reloading’.
This employee needs to be fired, full stop. No room for this rhetoric in our society.
Unfortunate in this case, but he is on solid legal ground based on the first amendment. Freedom of speech cuts both ways.
“Nobody cares about your protest” sounds like protected speech. But “All Lives Splatter”? I think that’s very much debatable.
I see it as straight up threatening to assault someone, which is not protected.
The first amendment does not protect threats of violence or intimidation. I also does not protect you from consequences of speech. So, a bumper sticker like this on a baby stroller could be considered free speech, on a deadly vehicle, it is intimidation and a threat. He can and should be fired for threats of violence.
All rights come with responsibilities.
Hyperbole is protected speech, a “true threat” is not.
This sticker seems to me to be in a similar category to signs that say “We Do Not Call 911, This Property Is Protected By The Second Amendment” and the like. Not a message I like, not something that speaks well of the person displaying it, but hard to take seriously as a genuine threat.
Except that it’s increasingly common for cars to drive directly into protests. This is not only advocating violence, but violence of a sort that is becoming all too commonplace, therefore definitely should not be protected as free speech.
Not exactly a compelling argument. On what grounds?
Increasingly common can still be incredibly rare. Two times out of a million is twice as much as one time out of a million, but both instances are exceedingly rare.
Unless you can show me what percentage of protests get cars driven into them, what you are saying is hyperbole.
Freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences. Nobody prevented him from saying this, and he is not guaranteed employment.
True. But taking his license is another matter entirely.
Oh I agree with you on that one; I differ from the poster directly above me.
Fair enough. Reasonable people can disagree on different things.
Absolutely needs to be fired. Video cameras are outing people’s racism and getting them fired. Being a city employee shouldn’t matter. If this employee isn’t fired then we can be sure that the city leadership itself is racist.
Just an hour ago, my friend in SW Portland was walking with her Black husband and baby when someone yelled “MAGA” out his car window and flashed the white power sign at them. Traffic violence is an easy extension of the hate speech that’s bubbling up on social media.
This is a disgusting violent death threat. It in no way falls under protected speech. Given the sheer volume of attacks of this very nature that we’ve seen recently I think it’s quite reasonable to go so far as report it to the police for investigation. This should not be viewed as anything less than a statement of intended violent action.
The Supreme Court and 200 years of case law interpreting the First Amendment would disgree with you. Speech cannot be prohibited just because its offensive.
So, depicting an SUV running over people on an SUV is merely offensive and not a threat?
A threat generally has to be directed at a specific person or persons for it to have a legal case. The generic nature of this decal makes it more of an offense and not a threat. A car sticker that threatens all humans should not be taken seriously.
Are BLM protesters not “persons”?
They’re not “specific persons”, no.
The Supreme Court has narrowly construed exceptions to First Amendment protections. To warrant an exception, incitements to violence must be immediate, unequivocal and specific. Something along the lines of “let’s go run over those protestors over there right now! A picture of a SUV running over people, as offensive as that is, isn’t close to meeting this standard.
That’s correct. This is not even close to being the type of threat that is not protected by constitution. The exceptions to our First Amendment protections have been very narrowly defined by case law. In Brandenburg v. Ohio, the Supreme Court has ruled that the government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless that incites “imminent lawless action.” That is a very high burden for the government to meet.
Nobody is prohibiting him from saying anything. He can continue to say whatever he wants after he gets fired.
They are fighting words tbh
HJ wrote: “… I think it’s quite reasonable to go so far as report it to the police for investigation.”
Perhaps that was inadvertent on your part. The police?!
Some of them famously hold similar views to Mr. Holley. I don’t think I would have much faith that *the police* would accomplish much here.
In matters of tasteless but protected speech, I don’t want the police to “accomplish” much.
I sometimes wish this site had a mute button, because some people just say basically the same things over and over (and over and over and over et cetera).
There’s just nothing to learn from it. It’s not spirited debate or “different points of view” or anything else that might add something to the discourse. Their incessant commentary also detracts from other voices and is part of the reason I don’t visit as often as I used to.
To be clear, I don’t think these commentators should be banned or “censored” or anything like that. I just want the option to in essence say, “Okay, I understand your point of view but I don’t want to hear it all the time.”
I agree that would be a cool feature. My concern would be that people would use it too much and it would allow them to ignore people who disagree with them. Would folks remember to unmute?
I won’t delve into the free speech weeds, but surely the city has some conduct policies that would result in some type of consequences for this person. This person was using a personal vehicle while working for the city and likely receiving reimbursement for use of the vehicle. The city of Gresham has been dealing with a bunch of government shake-ups recently over claims of racism and bias at the highest levels, so it may be that this type of intimidation was tolerated previously. Ironically, a couple of years ago I picked up a bumper sticker at Gresham City Hall that said “Hate is not a Gresham value”. They should probably do a bit more than that at this point.
This feels like another one of those “someone did something distasteful, better rally the internet” type of conversations that we seem to have periodically. I appreciate y’all letting me inside the bubble.
And when they occur in an echo chamber it seems like everyone agrees!
If not for the tireless and thankless work of the two of you, this truly would be an echo chamber. You are truly doing God’s work.
That’s a compliment…and I’m an Agnostic.
Pot calling the kettle black.
Most of my posts are sarcastic, so I’m not sure if they count.
This investigation, article and indignant comments are precisely the reaction that was intended, they are the irresponsible completion of a cycle started by an impotent provocateur who hoped other lazy thinkers would come on down to their have a laugh or get offended. Did it work because of where this person is employed? Did it work because of recent protests? Dorks with 1%er slogans on stickers are nothing new. It’ not just feeding a troll, it’s delivering home cooked meals all month long.
A lot of anti speech folks here who want to economically penalize someone who says horrible things. That will only fire up the alt right and therefore just ruin the message. There are other more effective ways.
And the “more effective ways” would be…making his tires go flat? What if you deflate his tire, like you suggested above, and he makes a big social media scene and gets some news coverage? Couldn’t that ‘fire up the alt right’ too?
How exactly do you penalize someone for (supposedly) exercising their first amendment right? If he put a sticker like this on his vehicle, do you think he’s ready to have a ‘heart to heart’ conversation?
“This reprehensible sentiment is becoming more common due to the month-long protests against systemic racism and policy brutality following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.”
Wrong. This sentiment is due to entrenched racism.
The problem is that this person is employed by the Gresham Transportation Division, which “designs, operates and maintains a system of more than 898 lane miles of streets, including sidewalks, bike lanes, streetlights, traffic signals, road signs and bike and pedestrian paths.” https://greshamoregon.gov/Transportation-Division/
A person who believes that vehicular assault is justifiable should not be responsible for designing, operating or maintaining public streets and roads.
Could a PBOT staffer ride a bicycle with a sign that advocated potentially fatal violence against drivers? I hope this would also be cause for dismissal.
A lot of this is the sad fact that “these words” [and images] about weaponizing motor vehicles – have become real physical actions all too often now and in too many places. Kinda like how talking/ writing about shooting people used to be more “silently sanctioned / ignored”…back before the school / workplace ‘shooting massacre of the month’ event became just that…all too often and too real for too many people.
Sad things that kids live with now…versus just watching silly movies about it ;-(
As for this car owner’s future public employment or unemployment…that is something the city’s HR department will be evaluating…
Nothing new to see here.
Police spread it: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/09/12/all-lives-splatter-sheriffs-office-apologizes-for-facebook-post-of-car-hitting-protesters/
Firefighters spread it: https://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2020/06/10/modesto-firefighters-leave-controversial-protest-meme/
Paramedics spread it: https://www.ems1.com/ethics/articles/la-paramedic-fired-over-all-lives-splatter-cartoon-social-media-posts-2lwKvIwc4jTwYTiF/
Senators spread it: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/09/19/south-dakota-lawmaker-shares-all-lives-splatter-meme/683589001/
University employees spread it: https://www.wjhl.com/news/local/etsu-spokesperson-employee-on-leave-following-review-of-post-on-social-media/
Video game creators spread it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ld0SAvmfCAs (http://tayferret.com/) No outrage over this one yet.
Local grocers spread it: https://mynbc15.com/news/local/protesters-gather-at-lil-brians-produce-market-after-facebook-post
So it’s no surprise that ordinary folks are taking a cue from citizens they respect and adopting this slogan as their own.
The video game creator website you posted needs an NSFW tag. Maybe more than one.