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New temporary rules allow meeting administrator to approve comments during conference call or video sessions

PMG FILE PHOTO - The South Park Blocks could be nominated to the National Register of Historic Places as a state committee meets again in late November after its Oct. 21 meeting was interrupted by racist and homophobic comments during an online session.Members of the State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation will try again to discuss nominating several state buildings and sites to the National Register of Historic Places, after their previous meeting was interrupted by racist and homophobic comments made by the members of the public.

The nine-member committee plans to meet via telephone conference call at 9 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 30, and again 9 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1, to complete work on nominations that was interrupted in mid-October by someone posting racist and homophobic comments at an online video meeting. The Oct. 21 incident derailed two days of meetings planned to discuss local historic sites and properties.

An Oregon State Police investigation into the incident was closed after failing to turn up evidence of a crime.

As with any public meeting, anyone is allowed to listen or watch the video proceedings. As a precaution, the state Parks and Recreation Commission approved Nov. 17 a temporary state rule change requiring people to submit comments to the meeting administrator, who will approve or reject them. Comments must be about the proposed nominations.

Instructions on how to attend will be posted on the commission web page prior to the meeting. Registration is required to speak at the meeting.

Chris Havel, Parks and Recreation Department spokesman, said the temporary rules in place for 180 days were developed to "protect the health and safety of our committee members."

"That will allow us to intercept a repeat of the Oct. 21 incident without exposing anyone else to an attack," Havel said.

'Hate-filled slurs'

The Oct. 21 incident came as someone watching the session began writing racist slurs about an hour into the first day of a two-day virtual session. Committee members had started a discussion about possible nomination of several Portland-area sites associated with local African-American history, when the person, who has not been identified, began writing what the committee described as "racist and other hate-filled slurs." The person also posted committee members' home addresses online.

Havel said it was the first time the committee's virtual meetings had been interrupted by an interloper, and the first time the committee has had to postpone or cancel a session because of outside interference. The person who wrote the messages used an online alias, Havel said.

During the Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 meetings, committee members will review three proposed multiple property documents: The Architecture of Donald J. Stewart in Washington and Oregon; the Historic Residential Resources of Redmond, Oregon; and Oregon New Deal Resources from the PWA and WPA, 1933-1943.

Members also will discuss possible nomination of several properties associated with African-American history in Portland: Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, Dean's Beauty Salon and Barber Shop and the Golden West Hotel.

Possible nomination Portland's South Park Blocks to the national register is also on the agenda.


Kevin Harden
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