County commissioners threatened with violence

Law enforcement in Lane County are seeking information regarding a series of written threats to county officials and their staffs.

On Feb. 26, the Board of County Commissioners received a written message from a person that threatened violence against board members and staff if a citizen-sponsored initiative to ban aerial herbicide spraying in Lane County did not appear on the ballot in May. Since then, several more messages have been sent, prompting officials to warn the public about the threats.

According to a news release by the Eugene Police Department, the person sending the letters claims to be a “Vietnam-era veteran with stage four cancer” and made specific threats to upcoming county meetings. The county responded by assigning sheriff’s deputies to monitor county meetings and installing metal detectors at the entrance to Harris Hall in downtown Eugene, where the board holds its weekly meetings.

Though the threats began in February, a circuit court judge ruled that the aerial spray ban would not appear on the May ballot on March 7. Since then, “several more” threats have been made according to police, though they did not specify how many.

On April 3, members of Freedom From Aerial Herbicides Alliance and Community Rights Lane County — the two citizen groups pushing for the spray ban — were present at a heated public meeting of the Board of County Commissioners, during which protesters chanted, “What are you going to do?” and “Refer the ordinance!” Video footage from the meeting showed Commissioner Jay Bozievich leave the room in frustration as the chanting escalated while the other commissioners sat in apparent discomfort for several minutes before asking police to clear the room. On April 4, the threats to the commissioners were made public by police.

Representatives from the groups could not be reached for comment regarding the threats, but FAHA released a statement denouncing the threats of violence.

“Freedom from Aerial Herbicides Alliance is in no way associated with this threat. We Do NOT [sic] condone violence and know that threatening people is not going to achieve anything. The people who endure the violence of aerial spraying will NOT [sic] resort to violence themselves. We will continue to be peaceful in our actions, and hope all of our supporters do the same,” the statement said.

Anyone with information regarding the threats is encouraged to contact Detective Curtis Newell with the Eugene Police Department. The Board of County Commissioners meets weekly on Tuesdays at 9 a.m. at Harris Hall in Eugene.