Tensions rise in Newberg after primary school assistant fired to work at Blackface


Newberg’s teaching assistant who showed up at school last week in black to protest the “segregation” of workplace vaccination mandates has become a flashpoint for racial and political tensions that brooded throughout the weekend at the gates of the Willamette Valley wine country.

Newberg Public Schools fired Lauren Pefferle on September 24, Pamplin Media reported. The day before, Pefferle confirmed his actions in an interview with conservative radio host Lars Larson.

“I feel isolated,” Pefferle said, explaining why she arrived at Mabel Rush Elementary School on September 17 with dark makeup on her face and arms. “I feel isolated because I am not vaccinated. Something is wrong here.”

Pefferle told Larson that she explained to her fellow school staff, “I’m representing Rosa Parks today on segregation.” But she denied to Larson that his protest was racist. “I had darker skin makeup on my face and hands, the parts of my body that appeared on my skin. I never thought of the word blackface because honestly, I don’t even know that term. don’t know what people mean by that i don’t use that language.

Other members of the Newberg School District understood the racism that blackface represents.

“It’s important to remember the terrible historical context of Blackface: how it was used to distort and demean black communities, and how much harm and pain it continues to cause,” said Newberg Superintendent Dr. Joe. Morelock, in a statement. “This behavior represents violence and evokes trauma; it is beyond the unacceptable.

Pefferle’s actions and the reported layoffs follow repeated racist incidents at Newberg High School, as well as the school board vote to ban the Black LIves Matter and LGBTQ Pride flags. And Newberg’s reputation statewide as a cultural battleground sparked several protests over the weekend.

On Friday night, Tigard High School students posted Black Lives Matter and Pride messages in the stands of their high school football game against Newberg. On Sunday, a Proud Boys team arrived in Newberg, despite calls from the school district to stay away.

“We heard rumors of a Proud Boy rally in Newberg on Sunday,” the district said in a statement. “We believe that the presence of people outside our community increases the tension and the risk of harm in our city. We ask for calm, respect and no outside influence in this time of heightened tension and attention. “

On Sunday afternoon, freelance journalist Sergio Olmos reported that a handful of Proud Boys stood on a street corner in Newberg, but were outnumbered by people carrying signs supporting racial justice and LGBTQ + rights.

“It’s easy for everyone in every other small town in America to look at us and say ‘oh look, Newberg has all these problems,'” a counter-protester told Olmos. “But frankly, if you don’t do anything to fix the problem, it’s probably as bad as where you are.”


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