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Jail head protests ‘littering’

For many months, jail board meetings have often featured sharp words between jail officials and citizens who oppose the jail’s contract to house immigration detainees.

Last week’s jail board meeting was no different. Northern Oregon Regional Corrections Facility (NORCOR) Jail Administrator Bryan Brandenburg opened the Sept. 12 meeting by addressing citizens in attendance, saying a bunch of golden shoes were left behind and a sign was pitched over the jail fence following one of the daily anti-contract protests at the jail.

He said it was the second time it had happened, and if it happened again, he would review the security footage and call the sheriff’s office.

Teresa Hepker, representing the NORCOR Community Resources Coalition, said, “I do advise you to call the sheriff because it did not come from us.”

Later in the meeting, Brian Stovall asked Brandenburg for an apology, saying Brandenburg “very angrily and loudly accosted me about it” before the meeting.

Brandenburg replied, “You’re not going to get one.”

Stovall said Brandenburg “basically accused the people you see here.”

Stovall said he not only doesn’t litter, but that he has picked up litter left by others in the jail parking lot.

Stovall said, “If he wants to make accusations I think he should go review his security footage.”

Stovall said his group has worked to be legal and constitutional in its ongoing protest, which has occurred daily for over 500 days.

Brandenburg said he used the word “please” in asking Stovall to retrieve the items. Stovall countered, “You did not say ‘please.’”

Stovall said to Brandenburg, “You blamed us.”

Brandenburg replied, “I didn’t say it was you. I said it was your group.”

Also, Amber Orion, a member of the Gorge ICE Resistance that opposed the contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, questioned a proposed change to running the jail.

It would eliminate the administrator position and replace it with a jail commander who would answer to the four sheriffs of the counties that run the jail.

She said two of the four sheriffs had signed a letter supporting a repeal of the state’s 30-year old sanctuary law, which prohibits use of state and local resources to enforce federal immigration law if the person’s only violation of law is being in the country illegally.

Gilliam County Sheriff Gary Bettencourt and Sherman County Sheriff Brad Lohrey were among the 18 Oregon sheriffs to sign the letter.

The letter says the sanctuary law undermines respect for all laws. It adds the immigration law violations are “precursors to other crimes illegal immigrants routinely commit in their effort to conceal their illegal status.”

Orion said by signing the letter, the sheriffs showed “a bias against black and brown people.”

Jail board chair Tom McCoy, a Sherman County commissioner, said, “This is out of order.”

Bettencourt was not at the meeting. Lohrey, who was at the meeting and sits on the jail board, said nothing.

Brandenburg said, “We’re not going to discuss this any further.”

Orion said, “Typical.”


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