Sign over I-5 hate speech or free speech?
EUGENE, Ore. - As Jimmy Marr stood back to admire his banner, he realized he could only see the back of it. So his wife parked along the freeway and took a picture.
"Three years ago when we started I wouldn't have been called a white supremacist, I would have been called a racist," Marr told KVAL News. "We can go ahead and be racist now, because anti-racist is a code word for anti-white."
Marr said the slogan, displayed on the banner, is so simple it defies explanation.
Mark Potok with the Southern Poverty Law Center disagrees, saying he has spent a year investigating it.
"What this slogan is trying to tell the world is that if you position yourself as opposed to racism, is what you are really saying is let's destroy the white race," Potok said.
Potock said white supremacist groups are trying to make the slogan go viral.
To report hate crimes
Eugene residents can call the Eugene Police Department at (541) 682-5111 to report hate crimes.
Hate activity and hate speech can be reported to the Eugene Equity and Human Rights Center at (541) 682-5177 or email email@example.com
Opponents can either criticize or ignore this slogan, said Michael Carrigan with Community Alliance of Lane County.
But it's only challenging hate speech, he said, that makes a change in your community.
Carrigan said CALC decided to respond by displaying their own banner on the bridge.
"For someone to hang a big banner over I-5 for the world to see - that's not our county! That's not what we want," said Carrigan. "I didn't know it existed. Oh it's Eugene the hippy utopia, where everybody is happy and there's no problems. Well, I've been proven wrong. That's not the case."
Marr argues his viewpoints are part of the diversity of the community.
"This is where old hippies go to die, right?" he said. "And we honor diversity, so it's time people can honor mine."