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Woman files lawsuit over police handling of noose display in Thurston

Ashley Carr, a member of Black Unity, filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against Springfield and one of its police officers.

Posted: Sep 23, 2021 12:36 PM
Updated: Sep 23, 2021 12:54 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- The City of Springfield is facing another lawsuit alleging misconduct by police.

Ashley Carr, a member of the group Black Unity, filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the city and one of its police officers.

That lawsuit claims Carr’s neighbor hung a noose with a skeleton outside his home last summer. According to the lawsuit, Carr felt the display was “racially motivated and meant to scare her.”

However, the lawsuit does not name the neighbor as a defendant. Instead, it takes aim at the City of Springfield and a police officer who questioned Carr over the noose.

Carr said a police officer approached her last year while she was in a car outside her home in Thurston with a friend. KEZI is not identifying the officer because he has not been charged with a crime.

During the conversation, she claims the officer was openly supportive of the noose, downplaying it as a Halloween decoration. The officer allegedly phoned the neighbor with the noose in the presence of Carr and her friend.

Carr and her friend, the lawsuit says, “were afraid as they witnessed the white officer speak to their white neighbor by first name and justify that the noose was an appropriate decoration because the white neighbor claimed it had been there for four years. The white officer continued to refer to BLM and Black Unity as a mob, ‘hell bent’ on causing trouble for the white neighbor, including making the neighbor look racist.”

The lawsuit was announced during a press conference alongside the Eugene-Springfield NAACP and Eugene City Councilor Greg Evans, who was involved in passing a state law criminalizing the display of a noose.

“We need to not only discourage people from doing those things, but we need to educate people about these kinds of symbols, what effect it has on not just African Americans, but the entire community,” Evans said.

Brian Michaels, the attorney representing Carr, said he hopes the incident makes more people aware of how serious displaying the symbol can be.

“This gives us a glimpse -- when I say us, I mean, white America -- a glimpse as to how Black people are treated by police,” Michaels said.

According to the lawsuit, Carr never felt comfortable around her neighbor’s house because of his “year-round Halloween decorations, but the noose was new.”

However, the officer allegedly told Carr the noose had been hanging up for four years, according to the neighbor. The noose was eventually taken down.

Councilor Evans said racist behavior has discouraged people of color from settling in Lane County.

“I have seen a number of professionals of color come here over the years, only to be harassed, to be intimidated, and to be driven out of this community because of what they look like, what they sound like and the ethnicity that they embody,” Evans said.

Carr is suing for $250,000 in damages. The City of Springfield said it is reviewing the lawsuit but does not comment on pending litigation.

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