Interview With Prineville Councilman Jason Beebe (6/22/2020)
Monday afternoon (June 22) The Peacekeepers had a productive meeting with Councilman Jason Beebe of Prineville.
He reached out to us requesting a meeting because there had been some discussion of him on social media, and he wanted to meet face to face to talk about it. Councilman Beebe expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and for our protests in Prineville specifically.
He also explained and gave context for a word in Arabic script on his Facebook profile that translates roughly to "terrorist" in English. His explanation makes sense in context, and seems to be a harmless joke he shared with Iraqi friends Mr. Beebe made while deployed. While we understand the context, the Peacekeepers made a point of telling Mr. Beebe that these sorts of jokes can be extremely harmful out of context. We told him that a white presenting military veteran using the word "terrorist", and in Arabic, has the effect of associating violent extremism with an entire culture of people. Mr. Beebe listened to this criticism, admitted that he had not thought of it that way, and expressed that he never thought anybody would go to the trouble of translating the script. He said he'd put some serious thought into whether it would be appropriate to remove that script from his Facebook page. Mr. Beebe also said that he is working with Senator's Merkely and Widen to secure immigration for an Iraqi interpreter he worked with. The Peacekeepers are working to independently verify this, but we have no reason to not believe Mr. Beebe. His desire to help his friend in Iraq seemed heart-felt and genuine.
Councilman Beebe expressed willingness and enthusiasm for working with leadership for the Prineville BLM protests. He offered to set up meetings with the rest of the City Council in order to work on meaningful progress. Overall, this was a productive meeting, and a great first step toward building trust.