A coalition of community members representing metro-area Muslim residents and other marginalized groups held a press conference Thursday afternoon to renew calls for Clackamas County Commissioner Mark Shull to resign.
Shull — who recently came under scrutiny for racist, transphobic, anti-immigrant and Islamophobic statements made on his personal Facebook page — has doubled down on some of his comments in recent days. During a Board of County Commissioners meeting Thursday, Jan. 21, Shull incorrectly stated that Muslim people believe in Sharia Law over the U.S. Constitution. His comments followed nearly 45 minutes of public testimony in which community members unleashed scathing calls for his resignation.
"Mark Shull has not even begun to adequately repent for the harm and damage he has done and continues to inflict on many different communities," said Sahar Muranovic, a board member for CAIR Oregon and the David Douglas School Board.
Muranovic was joined Thursday by fellow community leaders including Nkenge Harmon Johnson, CEO of the Urban League of Portland; Nancy Haque, executive director of Basic Rights Oregon; and Nadia Hasan, Beaverton city councilor.
Each speaker took approximately five minutes to highlight why they remain steadfast in their call for Shull to resign.
"There may be a path forward to him with his neighbors and his community for redemption and for learning, all of those things should and can happen," Harmon Johnson said. "But they should happen in his role as a private citizen, not an elected office representing Clackamas County."
Harmon Johnson invoked the image of a Muslim college student searching for an internship in Clackamas County government and finding one of its elected officials has made disparaging comments, some of which some call for violence against Islam. Or of a Black county government employee who has to work with Shull's office following his comments against the Black Lives Matter movement. She illustrated a few more situations in which members of the public's trust in Shull have been irreparably shattered and what it might be like for those individuals to have to interact with him in an official capacity following the trauma caused by his words.
Haque, who identifies as queer and advocates on behalf of Oregon's LGBTQ community in her official role as director of Basic Rights Oregon, noted that Shull's comments didn't only include hate towards Muslims, but many different groups that have seen decades of abuse.
"He is taking aim at people who have experienced an epidemic of violence because of how they identify and through his words he's condoned this violence," Haque said. "I don't believe a lifetime of hate and bigotry is erased by one afternoon of meeting with Muslim leaders, and while he gave at least some apology for his racist and Islamophobic comments, he has not apologized for his transphobic comments. And even if he did, it doesn't erase the pain and violence that he has sown as a result of his actions."
Haque's comments summarized the general tone of much of the conference — despite Shull's attempted apologies and statements following publication of his Facebook comments, the majority of community members aren't sold that he's actually sorry.
"He isn't sorry for what he said, he's sorry he was caught advocating for violence, including the extermination of Muslims," Muranovic said.
Each of the leaders present at Thursday afternoon's press conference called upon Oregonians upset by Shull's words and unimpressed by his attempt to apologize to give public testimony at Clackamas Board of County Commissioners meetings and continue to call for his resignation. The coalition made it clear that until Shull resigns or a recall campaign is mounted when legally allowed by state law in six months, they won't be going away.
"Forgiveness is attainable, but it's a journey," Hasan said. "I believe that if Mark Shull is truly sorry he will resign and work towards repairing the relationships he has hurt."
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