(WASHINGTON, D.C., 7/21/17) — The Oregon committee of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Oregon) today expressed disappointment with a plea agreement reached between the Eugene District Attorney’s office and a man who threatened to kill worshipers at a mosque in that state.
In May, CAIR welcomed the arrest of Chad Everett Russell, 44, on misdemeanor charges of intimidation (religion), menacing, disorderly conduct, intimidation (sexual orientation and race), harassment, and carrying a concealed weapon. He allegedly threatened to kill members of the Islamic Center in Eugene, Ore.
That same month, Russell was arrested after police responded to a dispute in which two parents were threatened with physical harm based on race and sexual orientation. Russell was reportedly in possession of a concealed weapon and charged with two counts of intimidation and harassment for both cases.
The district attorney’s office indicated to the Muslim community that Russell would be prosecuted “to the full extent of the law” in order to send a message that “these types of crimes are unacceptable.” Under the plea agreement, Russell will serve only 60 days with three years probation.
In a statement, CAIR-Oregon said:
“The victims in this case were only informed of the plea agreement at the last minute, and as a result of the late notice, several victims were unable to participate in the sentencing hearing.
“We are disappointed that the perpetrator of multiple hate crimes will spend only two months in prison. We believe this sends a troubling message to potential perpetrators of hate crimes and also serves to deter future reporting by victims of such crimes.
“CAIR-Oregon calls on the mayor of Eugene and the Lane County District Attorney’s office to develop a clear policy on responding to hate crimes and on positive communications with victims. Eugene officials should also work with Lane County community groups to develop these policies so that all communities will have a stake in the development of an improved criminal justice system.”
Earlier this month, CAIR-Oregon welcomed the Portland Police Bureau’s arrest of a man who allegedly threatened an African-American Muslim couple with “serious physical injury” because of their “race, color, religion and national origin.”
That incident occurred following the stabbing deaths of two men who defended a Muslim teenager wearing hijab who was reportedly being harassed by a man shouting slurs on a Portland train.
CAIR has noted an unprecedented spike in hate incidents targeting Muslims and other minority groups since the November 8 election.
This week, CAIR released an update on anti-Muslim incidents in the second quarter (April-June) of 2017. CAIR’s quarterly report indicates that the number of hate crimes in the first half of 2017 spiked 91 percent compared to the same period in 2016, which was the worst year for such anti-Muslim incidents since the civil rights organization began its current documenting system in 2013.
In response to the increase in hate incidents, CAIR launched an app to share critical “know your rights” information and to simplify the process to report hate crimes and bias incidents. CAIR is urging Muslims to download the app and utilize this resource to stay informed and empowered.
For a quick download of CAIR’s civil rights app, click here: http://www.cair.com/app
Community members may also report any bias incidents to CAIR’s Civil Rights Department at 202-742-6420 or by filing a report at: http://www.cair.com/report
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
La misiÃ³n de CAIR es mejorar la comprensiÃ³n del Islam, fomentar el diÃ¡logo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensiÃ³n mutua.
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CONTACT: CAIR-Oregon Committee Representatives Zakir Khan, email@example.com, 626-502-8450; Seemab Hussaini, firstname.lastname@example.org, 971-361-9944; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, email@example.com