A firestorm of criticism was unleashed this week when a Clackamas County commissioner proposed a resolution that compared showing a COVID-19 vaccine card to the segregationist Jim Crow laws.
Commissioner Mark Shull had drafted a resolution to block the state rule that a business must see someone's vaccine card before they can enter without a mask.
Shull's resolution draft stated vaccine passports create conditions of a new "Jim Crow 2.0" but fellow commissioners, including Chair Tootie Smith, harshly criticized the comparison to laws that had legalized segregation and led to arrests and lynchings.
While some of the commissioners, including Smith, are against the idea of having to show proof of being vaccinated, they say Shull's language has harmed the potential for any further action.
"I agree passports are not the way to go and I do not think vaccines should be mandatory, it is still a choice and I will fight for that right, but I will not tolerate from anyone, including you, sir, the language of this resolution," Smith said.
Some are calling the draft a stain on the county. Smith says she won't tolerate the language.
"You don't throw gasoline on fire and then expect to retract statements," said Smith. "I find this resolution as originally submitted abhorrent and irresponsible."
Shull's fellow commissioners — incensed by what they perceive as a lack of understanding — voted to remove Shull from all of his outside duties as commissioner. They say he doesn't represent the commission but they stopped short of renewing demands for his resignation.
But Shull disagrees with their reaction.
"There's nothing in there that should be construed as coming from a racist perspective," he said.
Kerry Tymchuk, the head of the Oregon Historical Society, said Oregon has a long history with Jim Crow-type laws.
"Jim Crow laws were not for everyone's safety, they were on the books to discriminate against certain numbers of people solely because of their color. There is no comparison," Tymchuk said.
Shull has been censored in the past for racist comments made on social media.
The blog "Documenting Mark Shull's Racism" was created by Cris Waller, a Jennings Lodge resident and Oregon House District 40 leader for the county's Democratic Party. The website highlights quotes and screenshots of around 20 posts made by Shull during the past two years representing views that Islam and Muslim people are a threat to America, and, on occasion, seemingly calling for violence.
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