Ashland, Ore.– Sunday, Senator Jeff Merkley joined a panel of speakers in denouncing hate groups in the Rogue Valley. The goal — to encourage people to stand up for one another and use words instead of fists.
“Hatred and prejudice are on the rise across the country in reaction to the license that they feel has been given them by the president of the United States,” said Mr. Merkley in his speech describing how hate groups have been given a platform in today’s political climate.
The community forum called Uniting for Justice was formed by Oregon District 2 Indivisible, a chapter of the larger, national Indivisible organization, was meant to discuss more than anything how to organize and be involved in social justice.
“Organizing to take a stand on behalf of their fellow Americans and so I wanted to be there for that reason but also to give them encouragement, to be involved, to take this as a priority for our time and energy,” said Mr. Merkley.
The event brought over 25 organizations from around the valley together all working to help participants learn more about what they can do in the community. Hundreds of people gathered, more than organizers say they expected. But for those that didn’t make it or chose not to go, organizers offered an open hand.
“I still believe that people do grow and change and that we haven’t written anybody off,” said Marjorie Trueblood-Gamble, co-founder of Racial Equity Coalition of Southern Oregon. “The door is always open if people would like to join.”
Senator Merkley says he’s hoping more events like these will be planned in future.
“Here in Oregon who have been turning out and saying “I wasn’t involved before. I should have been more involved and now I will be more involved,”” said Mr. Merkley. “It matters for our children and our children’s children that we take a stand on behalf of an inclusive vision for our nation.”