Corvallis City Council members received this weekend by mail two versions of postcards dripping in antisemitic and anti-transgender messaging.
The Corvallis Police Department was informed and is looking into it, according to Councilor Tracey Yee. She said in an email that Corvallis police would be in contact with each of the recipients and are also consulting with the FBI.
An antisemitic caricature of a Jewish man with exaggerated, stereotypical features is on the front of one of two postcards received at the councilors’ home addresses, along with a website promoting the distribution of antisemitic fliers.
The Jewish advocacy group StopAntisemitism has been tracking the activities of those responsible – the Goyim Defense League’ or ‘GDL’ for over five years and state they vilify Jews with their premeditated hate campaigns.
On the back of the first postcard is a Holocaust denial message, along with the address of another website promoting neo-Nazi propaganda and activism.
Postcards sent to Corvallis City Council members depict racist caricatures and language, seen in macro photography of images made Jan. 8.
“Angry white goyim will never be silenced,” it says on the back.
“These postcards were mailed to educate public servants without malicious intent,” the postcards say on the front.
Yee was repulsed and indignant.
“This racist, antisemitic material is disgusting to say the least,” Yee said. “But to indicate that the purpose is ‘to educate public servants without malicious intent’ is absurd.”
The second postcard is almost exclusively text.
Councilor Jan Napack confirmed receiving one of the postcards but declined to comment, saying via email that City Manager Mark Shepard asked councilors to refer any questions back to him or Patrick Rollens, the city’s public information officer.
Corvallis councilor Tracey Yee shared images of the postcard she received this weekend, as seen in macro photography.
Rollens said the mayor and most, if not all, of the council received postcards. He confirmed the incident was referred to police for investigation to see if it constitutes a criminal offense of some sort.
He added that he’s not aware of any instances in recent years of councilors being similarly targeted.
Yee said to her knowledge, councilors Charlyn Ellis, Laurie Chaplen, Hyatt Lytle, Paul Shaffer, Jan Napack, Gabe Shepherd and Tony Cadena received postcards. It’s unconfirmed whether Councilors Briae Lewis also received them.
“I find these disturbing,” Mayor Charles Maughan said via email. “Hate has no place in Corvallis.”
Shepherd confirmed receiving a postcard as well, saying in an email he is disgusted and appalled at the antisemitic and white supremacist rhetoric and imagery. He noted the lack of a return address, calling that out as cowardly.
“I agree with other councilors that hate and hate speech is not welcome in our city,” Shepherd said.
Chaplen received both postcards.
“I believe in free speech. However, I disagree with the sentiments of both cards due to its nature and bias,” Chaplen said by email. “People need to come together and engage in polite conversations to understand each other and find commonalities instead of being divisive.”
On the front of the second postcard was the same disinformation as the first postcard and an anti-transgender rant on the back — apparently an attempt to finish a public comment that was cut short during a City Council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 2.
The text seen on the second postcard sent to Corvallis City Council home addresses this weekend.
The speaker was one of three trying to share antisemitic messages via teleconferencing. The third speaker was shut down for alluding to the antisemitic replacement theory — that Jews are behind a plot to diminish the influence of white people — while promoting the website that appears on the postcards sent to city councilors.
The unwelcome public comments from remote speakers came after the conflict between Israel and Hamas took center stage with guest speakers at City Hall.
The City Council has heard ongoing comments from supporters of Israel and Palestine since a Dec. 4 meeting during which both factions filled City Hall to speak to a proposed resolution supporting Palestine as Israel wages war on the terror group Hamas in Gaza.
In the lobby, boos and applause followed each commenter, and, on a few occasions, interactions devolved into heated exchanges among attendees, involving some cussing. Some raised concerns about the language of the resolution and misinformation, as well as the questionable impact of a city-level resolution on global events.