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The Oregon gubernatorial candidate says she was talking about 'trash, not people' when talking to the New York Times.

After receiving pushback on her comments made about Portland to the New York Times, Oregon gubernatorial candidate Betsy Johnson defended herself in a video posted to Twitter on Wednesday.

Former state Sen. Betsy Johnson, who is running as an independent candidate for Oregon governor, recently made the comment to a New York Times journalist in which she said the City of Roses is turning into "the city of roaches."

Johnson also recently posted a statement to her campaign website, accusing Gov. Kate Brown, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Johnson's Democratic opponent, Tina Kotek of Portland, of bridging the urban-rural divide by unifying Oregonians in "mutual frustration with their leaders and their government."

"Right now, Portland is failing," Johnson said. "I don't think any problem demonstrates the need better to change Oregon's politics than the failure to solve homelessness on our streets."

Community members have since spoken out against Johnson's comments, including Marisa Zapata, the director of Portland State University's Homelessness Research and Action Collaborative. Zapata says the word "cockroaches" has historically been used to dehumanize and demonize marginalized groups of people.

Johnson took to Twitter on Wednesday to respond to the critics.

"I just told the New York Times that our beautiful City of Roses was turning into the 'city of roaches' due to all the garbage that's piling up," she said. "Now, unbelievably, the forces of 'Tent City Tina' and some woke professor from Portland State are attempting to manufacture false outrage. My comment was about trash — not people — and they know it, and you know it."



KOIN 6 News is a media partner of Pamplin Media Group.


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