November 23, 2016
Mayor Peterson and members of Salem City Council,
We demand that you take every action within your power to condemn and censure councilor Daniel Benjamin, and that you insist that he resign from the Council.
His action posting a blatantly outrageous and racist video on his Facebook page demonstrates his lack of fitness to serve as a representative of the people of Salem. No one could conceive of images of Black people being intentionally mowed down in the street by cars as anything other than racist. This is not a joke, especially given the history and current reality of violence experienced by Black Americans and people of color.
He has also posted on his Facebook page a virulently racist anti-Muslim tirade. This is yet more evidence that he has no intention of serving all the people of Salem.
Salem must be a welcoming city for all people. A welcoming city does not have a city councilor who would so callously and violently demean entire groups of its residents.
This is not just a matter you can consider as private because these were on his personal Facebook page. He is a public official, and the public has every right to hold him personally accountable for circulating a racist hate video no matter whether these were on a private or a public page.
Recently Mayor Peterson posted a video declaring Salem to be a safe and welcoming city to all people. One way to demonstrate the truth of that sentiment is to demand councilor Benjamin’s resignation and to declare unequivocally that all public officials who represent the people of Salem be held to a high standard of inclusivity.
This letter is signed by organizations representing people of color in Salem and white allies in the quest for Racial Justice in our city.
Pastor Marilyn Williams, Benny Williams, Michael Chenault, Garrett Snedaker; Salem Keizer NAACP
Annalivia Palazzo-Angulo; Salem Keizer Coalition for Equality
Andrea Williams; Causa
Levi Herrera-Lopez; Mano a Mano Family Center
Salem Islamic Center
John Scott; Teacher
Paul Krissel, Deborah Abello, Nina Kulander, Bob Rossi; Racial Justice Organizing Committee