Oregon Muslim leaders: Shull put 'people's safety in danger'
Leaders in Oregon's Muslim community have rejected an embattled Clackamas County Commissioner's plans for outreach and apologies — saying his hate speech requires an immediate resignation.
Newly-elected Commissioner Mark Shull referred to Muslim Americans as "invaders" and "savages" as recently as mid-2019 in his Facebook posts and called for military force against them, including "extermination outside the lands of Islam."
And while the former lieutenant colonel told The Oregonian he plans to meet with Muslim leaders to "build understanding," the most prominent officials in that community say they haven't heard from him.
"He does not need to meet with the community right now. What he needs to do is resign," said Nafisa Fai, the first Muslim to serve on the neighboring Washington County Commission. "He still doesn't understand the impact of his comments, how hurtful they are and how they put a lot of people's safety in danger."
Fai draws comparisons between Shull's xenophobic comments and a recent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in D.C.
"It's frustrating, and it's really scary ... inciting hate," she said. "It almost crumpled our democracy."
Shull, 69, of Sandy, did not utter an apology during the online meeting of the Clackamas Commission on Jan. 14 — his first appearance in front of the cameras since his comments were revealed by Pamplin Media Group — though he did later vote for a unanimous decision to formally reprimand himself.
"I've heard and understand your concerns," Shull said in brief remarks during the meeting. "It's my intention at this time to continue to carry out the work for the people of Clackamas County."
The Clackamas County Commissioner who called Muslim Americans "invaders" and "savages" who should be "exterminated" has refused to resign— Zane Sparling (@PDXzane) January 14, 2021
This was his only public statement on the matter so far
His former ally, Chair Tootie Smith, then called for an immediate official reprimand pic.twitter.com/jZDgpcfwOu
Several of Shull's posts specifically referenced fear of Somali immigrants, a fact not lost on Fai, a Somalia refugee who lived in public housing before winning a seat during her first run for public office.
During a Jan. 6 joint meeting of the Multnomah and Clackamas commissions to fill a vacant seat in State Senate District 24, Shull went against the grain and said he preferred Adrienne Enghouse, though he later joined the unanimous vote to appoint Kayse Jama, who was born into a nomadic family in Somalia.
"His comments were abhorrent ... and this is systematic," Jama said in an interview. "My focus is to commit to addressing those structural issues that we're dealing with."
Jama echoed Clackamas Chair Tootie Smith's calls for Shull to resign.
Pamplin Media has also discovered that Shull was arrested for sending a package of chocolates and a note written in Russian to the Portland domestic violence shelter where his wife was staying at the time of their divorce proceedings in February 2011. He was later acquitted.
In a preceding incident in December 2010, Shull's wife told police he had been drinking a second bottle of wine when a fight broke out and he pulled a gun in front of her and her 14-year-old son at their home in Sandy. Shull admitted to police he smashed a plate and threw a teapot and ketchup bottle during the incident.
Seemab Hussaini, vice chair for the Oregon chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, noted that Shull said in a statement to KGW that he apologized for his comments made "years ago," though in truth many of the posts were written in 2019 or 2020.
"When that is your reaction — to basically minimize it — that's not acceptable," said Hussaini. "There's not an official mosque out there in Clackamas County. The reason why it takes a while is because people are afraid."
CAIR has tracked the number of local organizations, lawmakers, clergy, advocates, school board members, city and county elected leaders and department chiefs who have called for Shull's resignation, a tally that is now over 100, transforming him into a political pariah.
Shull did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Reporter Sam Stites contributed to this story.
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