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Regional Interests

Clackamas County commissioner faces condemnation after sharing antisemitic meme

A Clackamas County commissioner has again drawn condemnation for an incendiary post appearing on his social media page. Commissioner Mark Shull shared a meme on Facebook appearing to compare vaccine requirements to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.

Shull has since taken the post down from his Facebook account. According to screenshots of the post before it was removed, it mentions Nazi soldiers requiring Jewish people in Germany during World War II to wear a yellow star on their clothes when outdoors, and asks “Anyone see the parallel?”

The rest of the Clackamas County board released a statement in response, slamming Shull.

“We recognize the Facebook post dismissed the horror that the Jewish community and so many others experienced during the holocaust and that it was posted just three weeks following a hate-crime on our campus where a Nazi Swastika was painted on our sidewalk,” the commissioners’ statement read. “We want to be clear that our County and we as commissioners, condemn antisemitism, racism and bigotry. Mark Shull’s post does not reflect the values of Clackamas County or this Board.”

In comments at a county work session on Tuesday, several commissioners criticized the post Shull shared. Commissioner Sonya Fischer said the meme made her feel nauseous and hurt.

“So Commissioner Shull, I want you to be aware that not only for the Jewish community but for your colleagues and for the residents of Clackamas County, your speech has hurt us collectively as a community,” Fischer told Shull, seated across the county table. “And that is the kind of recognition - that is the hard work - that is where we develop empathy and understanding, and in that is where we bridge this divide that is in our community.”

Commissioner Paul Savas suggested to Shull, sitting next to him, that he apologize for the comments.

Through a policy advisor at the county, Shull declined to make any comment to OPB. At the Tuesday work session, Shull defended posting the meme, which he said was only online for an hour. He said it was a warning about what can happen when civil liberties are taken away.

“When civil liberties are restricted and we don’t speak up to defend our neighbors who might be affected by those restrictions, then we end up with a slippery slope that could end up in a very bad situation,” Shull said.

Shull added: “I think that this whole thing is, was blown out of proportion and put in a very negative light” by a person who he says has been critical of him in the past.

It is not the first time Shull has made racist or derogatory statements.

In June, Shull had introduced a resolution comparing vaccine documents to Jim Crow laws. It drew swift opposition from others on the board and led county chair, and fellow Republican, Tootie Smith to strip Shull of his committee assignments.

And in January, the board voted for Shull to resign after racist and Islamophobic comments he’d made online became public. Shull has not resigned.

Smith responded at Tuesday’s board meeting to the recurrence of controversy created by Shull, calling it a “test” of her leadership.

“I have not appreciated these tests,” Smith said. “However, I feel it’s teaching me to be a better leader.”

Shull has been the target of a group seeking to recall him since the Islamophobic statements. The group released a statement on Tuesday, condemning the statement shared by the commissioner.

“The disgusting and offensive use of the Holocaust to advance his political agenda is yet another confirmation of why Mark Shull is unfit to lead this county,” said local labor activist Ira Erbs in a statement released by the Recall Mark Shull campaign. The statement said Erbs is the child of Holocaust survivors and a leader in the recall effort.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting