Rocky Meeting

Gay man threatened with stoning in Oregon city council meeting

Eric Osterberg. Via Facebook.

A Black, gay activist in Klamath Falls, Oregon, has gone public with threats of stoning he received from another citizen during a recent city council meeting.

A shaken Eric Osterberg, the assistant city manager, told his colleagues that a local resident–who remains anonymous–threatened him before the meeting. Osterberg was slated to deliver a special presentation on an equity task force during the gathering.

“I just want to start the meeting off by pointing to you that just having a simple conversation about racism in our community is gaining that level of violence, that threat of violence,” Osterberg told the assembly before the presentation. He then shared that the assailant had told him “brought a rock to this meeting” and accused him of being “a sinner” for his sexuality and “of spreading Aids here in the community.” The anonymous attacker also accused Osterberg of blasphemy for “trying to say that I am the second coming of Christ.”

Related: A gay couple suffered years of homophobic harassment. Now, they’ve unmasked the culprit.

“You are a sinner and you need to be stoned. That is why I brought this stone,”  the man allegedly told Osterberg before presenting a rock the size of a human head.

“I’m not sure if he was arrested or just asked to go home,” Osterberg said during the meeting. “I would hope that he was arrested since he made a direct threat to me, and I think it would be pretty bad if he was allowed to just leave.”

As it turned out, Klamath Falls police chief Robert Dentinger removed Osterberg’s harasser from the scene, but declined to arrest him. “As of (Monday) night there was not enough information to arrest him,” Dentinger told reporters. “But as things change, we are going to have to talk to him.”

“I was very surprised to see that there was going to be a direct threat of violence against me personally. I did not anticipate that,” Osterberg told the local newspaper Herald and News. “I was frankly more concerned for the safety of the task force members, and we talked about and kind of strategized how we were going to keep ourselves safe coming into the meeting.”

“I think this proves that there is such a violent reaction to the idea that there is even racism in the community,” he added. “That people are being threatened by violence in order to try and silence them. And I think that is pretty damning of the community.”

Eric Osterberg has announced he will leave Klamath Falls later this month to accept a position as a city manager in Ferguson, Missouri.