(Update: Adding video, comments by Mayor Fitch)
Handwritten note also mentioned Councilor Clifford Evelyn by name; police call it potential bias crime
REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) – A “racially hateful” and intimidating note – and a dead racoon – were left at the front door of Redmond Mayor Ed Fitch’s law office, where they were found Monday morning. Police said it's being investigated as a potential bias crime, as they seeking the public’s help to find who did it.
Redmond Police detectives responded around 8 a.m. Monday to a call of suspicious circumstances at the Law Offices of Fitch and Neary on SW Fifth Street, city Director of Communications Heather Cassaro said.
The handwritten sign taped to the door mentioned Fitch and Evelyn by name, she said.
"Based on the content of the sign’s message and the dead raccoon, this is being investigated as a potential bias crime in the second degree," the city representative said in a news release.
A photo of the note and dead animal was released by police, but the note was not readable in it. Cassaro told NewsChannel 21, "The sign was deliberately blurred to maintain the integrity of the investigation."
Fitch also declined to specify to NewsChannel 21 the note's message, but said, "I can say the note with the poor dead raccoon contained racially hateful references."
Fitch said he made the discovery around 6:30 a.m. when he arrived at his office.
"It was certainly racial," he told NewsChannel 21. "It was very hurtful, and it was very unfortunate."
"This was an unfortunate example of, you still have wackos out there who still don't get it," the mayor added. "People here need to get over the fact Redmond is not what it was 50 years ago. We are a diverse community, and people here need to accept that."
Fitch said the city council is not currently debating any race-related policies. He also said he does not have security cameras at his law office, but is now considering have them installed.
Oregon defines a bias crime in the second degree when a person tampers or interferes with property, having no right to do so nor reasonable ground to believe that the person has such right, with the intent to cause substantial inconvenience to another person because of the person’s perception of the other person’s race, color, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or national origin, Cassaro said.
“The Redmond Police Department has no tolerance for hate speech of any kind, against any person or group,” stated Police Chief Devin Lewis. “We will work swiftly to resolve this case and seek to hold those who did this to our community responsible."
Redmond Police are asking for the public for any assistance in locating the suspect(s) who placed the sign and the deceased racoon at the entry way of the Law Offices of Fitch and Neary sometime late Sunday evening or early Monday morning.
If you know who may be responsible or witnessed suspicious activity in the area, you're asked to notify police by calling the Deschutes County dispatch non-emergency number at 541-693-6911 and ask to speak with Redmond Police Detective Sergeant Jeremy Gautney, in reference to RPD case #23-16282.