Portland was rocked by three attacks on houses of worship within the last seven days, beginning with a broken window at the Congregation Shir Tikvah, followed by antisemitic vandalism at the Congregation Beth Israel and most recently by attempted arson at the Muslim Community Center of Portland. Attacks against Jewish and Muslim communities show that bigotry doesn’t have a single victim, and that interfaith unity is imperative along with government and civil society institutions joining together to respond to hate crimes and bigoted violence in Portland and across the Pacific Northwest.
“Individuals who are influenced by hateful ideologies and motivated to carry out attacks against multiple religious communities are emblematic of the dangerous growth of anti-democracy groups and bigoted social movements,” said Amy Herzfeld-Copple, the Deputy Director of Programs and Strategic Initiatives at the Western States Center. “It shouldn’t be a surprise that we are witnessing these attacks increasing in frequency in our communities, and it highlights the need for closer coordination of public and private actors in a more robust response.”
Western States Center’s years of organizing for inclusive democracy in the region affirms that antisemitism, Islamophobia and other forms of racialized and anti-religious bigotry are closely interwoven with broader anti-democracy movements that have grown in recent years. This growth corresponds with an increase in violent incidents such as this trio of attacks faced by Portland’s religious communities in the past week. Portland police have suggested that at least two of these attacks may have been committed by the same perpetrator, who remains at large.
“These attacks on our Muslim and Jewish communities cannot be dismissed as isolated incidents,” Herzfeld-Copple added. “Together, these three attacks demonstrate the need for people of all faiths as well as all members of our community to join together in solidarity against bigotry. Only by recognizing the systemic challenges posed to our community by the rise of anti-democracy and hateful groups, can we mobilize the resources necessary to build a future in Portland where everyone can live free from bigotry and fear.”
Based in the Pacific Northwest and Mountain States, Western States Center works nationwide to strengthen inclusive democracy through building movements, developing leaders, shifting culture, and defending democracy.
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