Mayor's comments generate contentious social media dialogue
Estacada Mayor Sean Drinkwine's recent comments about local demonstrations for the Black Lives Matter movement have generated a surge of conversation — in support and opposition — on social media.
Drinkwine has since apologized for a post he published in the Estacada Neighborhood Watch Uncensored Facebook Group on Monday, June 22, which stated: "I would not and have not condoned these BLM vigils in our community" and that "All city staff and I are working tirelessly to shut these vigils down."
In a virtual City Council meeting later that day, Drinkwine further explained what the goals of the statement had been.
"My intention was to keep violence out of the area and not so much to negate their gathering. But I expressed myself poorly," he said during a virtual Estacada City Council meeting on Monday, June 22. "I am not a racist, by far, I love my citizens in this city and I was trying to make things safe so we wouldn't be in an altercation."
During the meeting, city staff clarified that they have not been working to stop the demonstrations, and city councilors issued a statement in support of peaceful assembly.
"(We) want to make perfectly clear that no one working or representing the city of Estacada has ever made any attempt to limit anyone's right to peaceful assembly regarding any matter," the statement read. "We value the diversity in our city, including diversity of opinions, and our focus has always been protecting the citizens of our citizens who are exercising their first amendment rights."
Estacada's demonstrations in support of the Black Lives Matter movement began on Saturday, June 6, and have occurred every Saturday since then. Each has been largely peaceful other than several verbal disagreements, which remained nonviolent. Typically, between 20-50 people attend.
In light of Drinkwine's comments, members of the STAND UP Movement in nearby Sandy are hosting a march against racism from 6-8:30 p.m. Friday, June 26, from Estacada High School to City Hall
Though Drinkwine deleted his original post, a repost of its contents in the Estacada Neighborhood Watch Facebook group has garnered more than 500 comments as of Wednesday, June 24.
"We just need to remember, he is trying to protect this community from the virus and threats of violence and that is a heavy weight on his shoulders," one commentor wrote. "He is an unpaid mayor and doing the best that he can. Everyone that feels the need to criticize him needs to show that they can get in there and do a better job."
"He has received threats for allowing the rally. And his name trashed for questioning continuing them. He's a good person trying to do what's best for our community," another wrote.
However, others who posted were critical.
"Nothing like suppression of free speech and the right to peacefully assemble to show your true colors," one comment stated.
"My perspective is that the Mayor tried to shut down a peaceful protest which is protected under our 1st amendment rights. I hear the argument that he was concerned about possible future looting and rioting, but none of those things had come to pass, therefore he had no right to tell everyone he was actively trying to shut them down," someone else wrote. "I don't care what political party you are affiliated with, if you do or do not support the BLM movement, or what news channel you get your information from. The Mayor is in question currently for making a statement that said he was working directly against our constitutional rights as American citizens. Why is anyone in town OK with that?"
The incident also generated discussion on the city of Estacada's Facebook page.
"Further actions are necessary. Mayor Drinkwine needs to be held accountable and educated on the ignorance in his statements," a commenter wrote on a post detailing the City Council's statement in favor of peaceful assembly.
"Yes you've upset the mob now, they won't be pleased until he resigns in shame. So much for freedom of speech," another comment in the same thread stated.
Some Facebook comments took issue with media coverage surrounding the event.
"As a community member I am proud of who we are and concerned that the recent media trash talk will threaten the beauty of our community. The media has been baiting hate and not printing the whole truth, and that saddens me," a post on Estacada Neighborhood Watch read. "Headlines are being written to divide."
On Reddit, the r/Portland page was largely critical of Drinkwine's comments. One post encouraged readers to attend Friday's march against racism.
"I hope that you guys will be able to join us out here and help fight for BLM and help end this racist, and backwards bs," the poster wrote.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.