Portland City Councilor Victoria Pelletier said she has received multiple racially targeted threats of violence and sexual assault after making a public statement last week on the murder of Tyre Nichols.
Pelletier said Monday night that she received the threats after she shared her statement, emphasizing to the council the messages’ horrifying graphic depictions.
“If I don’t talk I’m silencing myself, which I’ve never done before,” she said.
Pelletier posted on social media about how “disgusted” she was about other recent racially motivated posts online.
“For every Black person who has been targeted by racists, I see you and I will do whatever I can to help you,” Pelletier said Monday night.
Pelletier admonished the Council for having racial equity as a top goal in 2022, saying it was now 2023 and as a “visible Black woman” she was still the target of these threats.
“I’m exhausted that we are still having the same conversation from before I was born,” she said.
Members of the Council, including Mayor Kate Snyder, had made an initial statement on Jan. 30 about the murder of Tyre Nichols by five police officers in Memphis, Tennessee. The mayor consulted with Interim City Manager Danielle West and Interim Police Chief Heath Gorham to issue the joint statement.
Later that day, Pelletier and Councilor Regina Phillips issued their own statement, criticizing the mayor, city manager and police chief for not consulting any of the three Black members of city council before issuing theirs.
Snyder said Monday that it was “difficult” to put out a statement from the Council in the span of a day, but that the Council stands in support of the Black, indigenous and people of color communities.
Pelletier’s words on Monday night elicited a standing ovation from the council, city staff and public attendees. Interim City Manager Danielle West said there is “no place” for hate speech or to make threats to a person’s safety. Snyder said Portland was making its way “through difficult times,” and said there is a joint statement that will come out.
A spokesperson for the Portland Police Department said did not have information about how the threats were being investigated.
Councilor April Fournier said she was “incredibly angry” over what Pelletier had to go through, saying there’s not enough discussion on “the tangible harm this creates.”
“If we ignore it, we feel death by a thousand cuts,” Fournier said.
Councilor Roberto Rodriguez agreed with Pelletier about optimism for the “next generation of racial equity,” but said the loudest voices, like former President Donald Trump’s, don’t represent Portland.
“That’s not us,” he said.