Portland businesses to bigoted candidates: Stay away from Oregon

Twenty-eight Oregon trade groups, businesses and commerce advocates have signed a letter decrying “escalating political violence” that threatens democracy, not to mention the region’s economic prospects.

The groups signed the letter, distributed to media Tuesday by the Portland Business Alliance, which sports the Western States Center’s letterhead. The Center advocates for inclusive democracy.

Most significantly, the groups and companies said they’ll withhold support, including campaign contributions, from political candidates “who either actively support political violence or neglect to condemn political violence when it comes from their allies or supporters.”

The Oregon signees also pledged to:

Let “shared values of equity, inclusion and multiracial democracy and our belief that every

Ensure that Oregonians should live free from bigotry and fear.

“Commit to resolving disputes nonviolently, actively denounce acts or threats of violence, and avoid the use of language, symbols, memes or gestures associated with the promotion of bigotry.

The letter was revealed at the PBA’s annual meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Along with the Andrew Hoan-led PBA, the business group endorsers include Business for a Better Portland, Greater Portland Inc., Oregon Entrepreneurs Network and Oregon Pride in Business.

Companies signing on include Brown & Brown NW Insurance, Fubonn Shopping Center, Gard Communications, Melvin Mark Cos., NW Natural and Portland General Electric.

Trade groups backing the notion include the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Oregon Tradeswomen, Oregon Wild and Portland Metropolitan Association of Realtors.

Here’s the full text of the letter .

Oregon has always been a place known for its outspoken civil discourse. Our rich tradition of exercising our First Amendment rights and strengthening democratic institutions is what sets this great state apart. Our protests, debates and disagreements have been a hallmark of what makes us special. This vibrant civic engagement continues to draw increasing numbers of people here from across the country seeking a state that routinely challenges itself to be a better place.

Disappointingly, bigoted and anti-democratic movements have used those same First Amendment rights as cover for increasing direct threats and physical violence to build political power. As leaders, we believe that escalating political violence threatens to dismantle our democratic institutions. By coming together to denounce political violence, attacks on access to our democracy, and threats of violence, we can effectively counter bigoted and anti-democratic activity and recommit ourselves to building an inclusive democracy that reflects our shared values.

Across Oregon today, businesses and community organizations are helping our state recover from the deadly pandemic that has already taken too many lives. We are trying to rebuild our regional economy and put Oregonians back to work. But our recovery won’t be complete if we don’t also address the rise in hate violence and assaults on inclusive democracy that our state and nation have seen. Our leaders must condemn bigotry and recommit to safeguarding basic democratic norms.

The signatories to this letter come from various spheres of civil society, and we may not always agree on every issue. When we disagree, we do it with respect. Most importantly, we agree that we all must work to make our state a better place, and that business leaders have a critical interest in speaking out to protect democracy to maintain the stability and inclusion that lead to prosperity for all Oregonians.

We speak with one, unequivocal voice to say with absolute clarity that violence and bigotry are never the way to resolve our differences. Violence poses a dangerous threat to our public safety and a healthy democratic practice. Every Oregonian deserves to be able to participate in our democracy and civic discourse without fear, intimidation, or unnecessary barriers. Elected officials who explicitly or subtly encourage this political violence should be held accountable. Anyone indulging conspiracy theories or engaging with movements that exploit bigotry to raise campaign dollars is complicit.

All of us play an essential role in helping to end political violence and repair the damage our democracy has suffered.