In Ashland, Oregon, the murder of a young black man last month by a white man who complained he was playing loud music.
SALEM, ore in racial relations.
The death of 19-year-old Aidan Ellison has given another name to the list of black men and women whose murder sparked a nationwide reckoning with racism and sparked the Black Lives Material movement.
“What can be said about this teenager who was full of souls? He was just on his way all his life when he was taken away from us, ”Ellison’s family said in a statement issued by his mother, Andrea Wofford. “Which is a lot of a lot. How many black men have to die before this community takes hate crimes seriously?
On November 23, Robert Keegan fired a single shot into Ellison’s chest after complaining late about the music in the motel’s parking lot. He is being held on bail after pleading guilty to second-rate murder, murder and other charges.
Keegan, 47, is from the nearby small town of Talent, which was severely damaged by a fire in September. He and Ellison both stayed at the motel, but apparently didn’t get to know each other before that night.
Keegan claimed he had hit Ellison in the face and that according to court records he fired in self-defense. But a police officer reported that Keegan had no visible injuries to his face and that an autopsy showed no injuries to Ellison’s hand that would have indicated he had hit Keegan.
Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara said investigators had found no evidence to support the allegation of biased crimes against Keegan.
But Julie Akins, who has been elected mayor of Ashland, said she believed racism was at the heart of the shooting.
“I can speak as a member of the white-bodied community, saying that the census of regular racism, which continues to cause the deaths of our colorful brethren, is over,” Akins said in a statement. “It’s no coincidence that the white man, according to police, lost the young musician’s life because of a misdemeanor of playing music. This is the root of racism. “
The FBI is working with the Ashland Police Department to investigate whether federal laws have been violated, police said Thursday.
On Wednesday night, a crowd of people stood on the lawn in the nearby town of Medford, next to the Jackson County Courthouse, to launch a vigil for Ellison. Several black men and women spoke of being racially profiled or stigmatized and mourning the extinct young life.
Ashland, a city of 21,000 inhabitants near the California border at the foot of a mountain, is home to the University of Southern Oregon and hosts the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which attracts hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country to plays each year.
Sprinkled with cafes and trendy restaurants, Ashland is a spicy town in conservative Oregon. In keeping with the Shakespeare theme, many of the community’s buildings have Tudor-style architecture. The motel where the shooting took place is the Stratford Inn, which recalls Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-Upon-Avon.
According to the census, only 1.4% of Ashland’s residents are black and 92.5% are white. Oregon has a racist history – the state constitution once forbade blacks from living in the state. Consequently, the state has a disproportionately low black population compared to the rest of the United States.
Ashland black activists say the murder has exposed the city’s low level of racism.
“Ashland likes to believe it’s a utopia, but it’s not,” Precious Edmonds activist told Oregon Public Broadcasting. “I don’t feel safer because I’m here in Ashland. And unfortunately, Assan’s murder is just one example of why this is so.”
Ellison’s death commemorated exactly eight years ago the murder of Jordan Davis, a black 17-year-old high school student who was shot dead by a white man in Florida over a dispute over loud music. Michael Dunnot was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
The Oregon shooting has attracted national attention. A lobby group led by former Arizona MP Griby Giffords, who survived the headshot in 2011, called the murder “pointless.”
“Listening to music should never end in death. The presence of the weapon turns the controversy to death, and the victims are disproportionately colorful people, ”the group said on Facebook.
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