Clifford Eiffler-Rodriguez and I met at Archive Coffee in Salem to talk for a piece I was producing for KMUZ’s Willamette WakeUp program.**
I had seen Eiffler-Rodriguez’s name in articles over the years - mostly in his capacity as a community activist and often on the front lines. We chatted for a while, and then walked over to the state capitol park.
I mostly like the location because of the nice ambient noise (birds, kids playing, distant city noises), but I didn’t realize we sat on a bench not too far from where Eiffler-Rodriguez was once attacked by far-right extremists - several of them ganging up on him.
He pointed north towards Court Street and recalled a different time he was pepper-sprayed by Proud Boys and when he approached a nearby cop who saw that assault - and the officer did nothing.
Eiffler-Rodriguez continually puts himself directly in harm's way when it comes to defending our community against far-right extremist groups and their violent street gangs. The city he grew up in has become a battleground of sorts, and he’s got mental markers for his own personal skirmishes.
One thing I had to cut from this piece that Eiffler-Rodriguez and I discussed was the role of the Oregon Justice Resource Center helping defend him and their representation during his civil suit. Without them, he said, he wouldn’t have been able to take his quest for accountability this far. We should be grateful as a community that the ORJC exists, but those folks are stretched impossibly thin.
Two main takeaways (for me) from my discussion with Eiffler-Rodriguez:
Without the political will do it, police accountability will never even come close to happening. Even then, material changes would be unlikely.
Defending your own civil rights in Oregon against government infringement is impossibly perilous and largely unattainable for most people.
**This interview originally aired on KMUZ on June 21 on Willamette WakeUp. I’ll be showing up there from time-to-time as a contributor. Check them out - they are an all-volunteer station doing great work to cover Salem area news, culture and events with their morning show.
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