‘Kill list’ letters sent to Portland activists, journalists

2020 Protests

Portland police confirmed they are investigating

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Investigators are now getting involved after a wave of racist and threatening letters were mailed to people in the Portland metro area, one of which contained a “kill list” with more than 20 names of community leaders, activists and people of color.

Candace Avalos, a Portland activist and former candidate for Portland City Council, received a threatening letter with her name on a “kill list,” November 20, 2020 (KOIN)

The letters are disturbing, disparage the Black Lives Matter movement and threaten violence and death upon those involved in it — and the threats appear to be escalating.

The list, which was originally reported by The Oregonian/OregonLive.com, was sent to Candace Avalos, a Portland activist and former candidate for Portland City Council. Avalos posted the note on Twitter this week, and said it was the second racist note she had received in a week.

“Within a week I have 2 hateful letters in my mailbox,” said Avalos, the chair of the Citizen Review Committee, a civic leader and an educator. “The goal was to tell me that Black lives don’t matter, that N lives don’t matter.”

A threatening letter with a “kill list” was sent to a number of Portland activists and journalists, November 20, 2020 (Courtesy: Candace Avalos)

Among other things, the letter said:

  • “If you try anymore action in Vancouver your El Sickos will pay”
  • “I got hollow tips”
  • “We want total war”
  • “Don’t worry about checking this for prints. I wore gloves”

“It’s upsetting and makes me angry and it makes me hurt for not only myself as someone dealing with this, but the many people who have to deal with this and continue to deal with this as they work to make change in the community. Nobody that is striving for progress deserves that.”

Gregory McKelvey, most recently the campaign manager for mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone, was also on the list.

Gregory McKelvey, a Portland activist who was the campaign manager for mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone, November 20, 2020 (KOIN)

“Certainly death threats are not new to me, which is the sad reality of just trying to stand up for stuff. But they certainly feel different than they did in 2016 when I didn’t have kids,” McKelvey said. “It doesn’t take a brave person to send the letters that have been sent. That takes a cowardly person to try and hide their identity to try and cover their tracks.”

McKelvey, now the father of two kids, said the common thread of those listed is their involvement in the BLM movement.

“I think the individuals on the list are brave individuals, have both fought for justice or covered those that fight for justice, and the person who sent the letter is not,” McKelvey said.

In a statement to KOIN 6 News, Mayor Ted Wheeler said: “I have consistently and loudly condemned violence and intimidation of all kinds. I have assigned a staff member to follow up on these outrageous and disturbing threats. My team and I are working hard to provide resources and protection to anyone who desires it. I have reached out and my team has reached out. I respect everyone’s right to peacefully protest and to decide for themselves whether or not to report threats.”

Avalos said Wheeler’s office did reach out, but McKelvey said he has not heard from Wheeler’s office.

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