A fearful Latino population in Bend is seeking community support, according to Greg Delgado, after arson at a community church is suspected to be a hate crime.A disputed march for immigration rights ended at Trinity Episcopal church with a highly publicized ceremony on March 6 and 12 hours later, Trinity Episcopal was on fire.
Delgado, Latino community organizer at CAUSA, believes the two incidents were connected.
The connections between these two events were discussed at a “Conversation on Prejudice, Hatred and Healing” in Wille Hall, led by organizations at COCC and the community on May 23.
Demonstrators at the march were met intermittently by the “one-finger salute” and calls of “Go back to Mexico,” according to Bruce Morris, a local activist and volunteer with the Human Dignity Coalition.
Morris believes situations like these point to the arson being a hate crime.
“Why is this church attacked that’s never been attacked,” Morris said, “a few hours after a huge immigrant rights demonstration that was highly publicized by the media?”
It was too coincidental that it happened at that time, according to Delgado.
After hearing of the arson, Morris and Delgado both asked themselves, ‘What could be done to address this possible hate crime?’
It’s important not to leave this crime unaddressed, explained Morris.
“The more conversations we have,” Morris said, “the more chance we have to build a diverse, vibrant community.”
Delgado believes an act of this magnitude in the community could devastate Bend’s Latino population.
“We need to help our Latino population, that’s already in fear, to see that the community does support them,” Delgado said. “We want to create a space to heal for our community.”
The Trinity Episcopal church gives back to the community, explained Morris, with it’s programs for the homeless.
“Trinity has been a great member of our community for a long time,” Morris said. “If this was a hate crime, I want the people responsible to know we are paying attention, and we won’t put up with it.”