Lake Oswego Twitter user's post garners attention toward racially focused letter
A Twitter post from a Lake Oswego resident has garnered attention after a woman who goes by the username @pivyak posted a photograph of a letter from her neighbors asking her to remove painted window signage that showed support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
"My younger sister painted a sign on the front window of our house to show our support of the #BLM movement," the post from Aug. 2 read, "and was sent this in the mail from one of our neighbors. 100% on brand for lake Oswego."
my younger sister painted a sign on the front window of our house to show our support of the #BLM movement, and was sent this in the mail from one of our neighbors. 100% on brand for lake oswego ðŸ¤®âœ¨ pic.twitter.com/TFryIAU5Yd— divya (@pivyak) August 2, 2020
The window paint read "silence supports police violence."
Pamplin Media Group reached out to the people involved on social media and has not received a response yet.
Since it was posted, the message has received thousands of likes, comments and shares, and on Tuesday morning, Aug. 4, "Lake Oswego" was trending on Twitter in Oregon.
The letter, which was sent anonymously, said there were multiple homes on the street that were for sale, and that the family's signage was driving down property values and peoples' interest in living on that street.
"We feel you've made your statement and respectfully request you remove it and save your political viewpoint for inside your home," the neighbors' letter read, in part. "Homes are not made to be build boards (sic) for our opinions, they are a place for families to rest, enjoy life and feel safe. Thank you in advance for caring enough about the people you live side by side (especially with different viewpoints) by removing your sign."
When the city of Lake Oswego learned of the incident, a message from City Manager Martha Bennett was posted on the city's Twitter feed. She said the city stands in solidarity with the family the letter was directed toward and said the city is determined to make Lake Oswego safe and welcoming for all.
"We respect our residents' First Amendment rights for free expression, and we believe in constructive dialog that allows people to discuss their differences of opinion face-to-face," Bennett said in the post. "As a City, we value our (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) community members, and we stand for anti-racism. Everyone should be able to thrive in Lake Oswego without worrying about how the color of their skin affects their opportunities. No one should have to live with suspicion and fear of one's neighbors. We are committed to making Lake Oswego a community for all and we need the help of every person. Please join us in stamping out racism, intolerance, and fear in Lake Oswego."
The Lake Oswego School District also sent out a message to families Aug. 5.
"As a school board and district, we reaffirm our commitment to creating environments of anti-racism and belonging within systems that are inclusive of everyone in our community," the email read. "The Lake Oswego School District is committed to act in a socially responsible manner that models the valuing of every human being. We support the rich and growing diversity in Lake Oswego and believe that all in our city should feel safe and valued."
One woman who goes by the username @Peacheserratica replied to the initial post with a photograph of a document saying "Yep, Lake Oswego hasn't changed much at all over the years. "
The document from The Lake Oswego Development Co. was dated in 1952 and included language at the bottom that read "P.S. Be sure to bring this letter with you for identification and come prepared to make the above cash payment should you decide to accept the offer, as we cannot hold it open for you after inspection. Property definitely restricted to the white race."
Planning Building and Services Director Scot Siegel said such restrictions on properties used to be commonplace, but were found to be unconstitutional and cannot be enforced now. He said the restrictions that some property owners might find in their property titles or deeds were placed there by the developer, or at the insistence of their bank or lender at the time.
"This was back when redlining (with) systematic discrimination lending practices and in real estate were widespread," Siegel said. "It's something that is, unfortunately, a vestige of times when systemic racism was much more direct — even more direct than it is now."
Siegel said he's aware of some properties in the city that were developed primarily before the 1960s that might have discriminatory language in the deeds.
"Fortunately there is a solution — there's a way to remove those from your property records and it's fairly easy," Siegel said. "There's no cost in doing this."
Siegel said if residents don't have their property deed and want to look through it, they can request the documents from the county recorder's office. If people see discriminatory language or restrictions they can submit a request to the Clackamas County Circuit Court to remove the language.
"They can request that provisions be removed from their property records," he said. "This is something that anyone can do. It's very simple and effective if you find the language in the property records … that you can make the request to have it removed and there's no charge for it through Clackamas County or Multnomah County Circuit Court."
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.