N. Portland Masonic temple leader to leave up racist graffiti

N. Portland Masonic temple leader to leave up racist graffiti

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Grand Master of a Masonic temple in North Portland said he wants to send a message by leaving up racist graffiti that was spray-painted on the temple overnight Wednesday.

Swastikas, racist language, death threats and illustrations of man in a noose were found on the building early Thursday morning.

John Bryant, Grand Master of the Son's of Haiti Grand Lodge on N. Mississippi and N. Fremont Street, said the incident took place sometime between 10 p.m. Wednesday and 5:30 a.m. Thursday.

He said he found the graffiti when he arrived at the temple early Thursday in preparation to go to Seattle to meet with other Masonic members at a conference.

Bryant said he was going to paint over the graffiti before he left to shield children from it but then decided against it. "I think people need to see this. I just want them to see it is happening in Portland. What can happen and what did happen."

Brant said he has no idea why his building or organization was targeted. He said the organization is a non-profit and "all we do is try to help the community."

"We've been here for 30 years at this particular [location] and nothing like this has ever happened," Bryant said. The majority of the temple members are black.

"This is terrible," lodge Grand Secretary Curtis Hicks said. "It's very disheartening."

In the last 12 years, Jeff Behnke said he's seen plenty of problems from his furniture repair business across the street from the temple, but never anything like this.

"I mean, we've been tagged a lot, but nothing racial like this, which is pretty disappointing and feels pretty dated, too," Behnke said.

In a press release, police said Bias Crime Detectives have been assigned to the case and are "actively working all available leads at this time." Police have not said if they have any suspect information.

The incident comes after a gunman associated with white supremacist organizations and music killed six people and injured three more in a mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin last Sunday.

Police responding to the shooting injured the gunman, Wade Michael Page, 40, who then killed himself.

Bryant said he will remove the graffiti this Sunday after he returns from Seattle. Police said businesses near the temple said they did not have any security video with a view of the temple.

Detectives are asking anyone with information regarding this case to call Detective Kevin Warren at 503-823-3761.