An Oregon woman has quit her job after attending an office Christmas party at which employees held what she believes is a lynching in effigy of President-elect Donald Trump.
Sarah Mykkanen of Portland was at the holiday celebration this month put on by three establishments with joint ownership: Roscoe’s, Stein Haus and Miyamoto Sushi.
The party featured a piñata made to resemble Trump, and those attending took turns using a baseball bat to whack the figurine in the groin and elsewhere.
“In horror I watched as they strung a thick rope over a beam, with a noose tightly tied on one end. They held up the effigy of Trump, and put the noose around his neck,” Mykkanen wrote in an essay to Willamette Week, a weekly alternative newspaper in Portland.
“The room filled with my white co-workers became a lynch mob when they started chanting ‘lynch him!’ and ‘lynch the b-tch!’ People were laughing and taking snapchats and cheering as they swung around the effigy of Trump from a noose.”
See video of the event:
Standing in that crowd was one of the most terrifying moments of my life, and something I never thought I would experience in this country. I was getting flashes from history; saw my coworkers with pointy white hats and robes, as they gutturally and repeatedly chanted, “Lynch him!”
[Two people] brought out a metal baseball bat. Each took turns swinging and hitting Trump, but not like they were trying to get candy from a piñata. There was no blindfold, no moving the piñata. They each took turns swinging the bat and hitting the effigy between the legs. Someone shouted “hit him in the p-ssy!”
My head was spinning, my skin was crawling, I felt like I was going to vomit, none of this was okay. Could no one else see how wrong this was?”
Jeremy Lewis, the owner of Roscoe’s, told the paper the piñata had been purchased by an employee, and a rope was holding it up, not a noose.
“I understand it had an effect on her and I don’t want to diminish that, but at the same time, it was a piñata, and you hit it,” Lewis said. “People had been drinking. I can’t attest to what everyone was saying, but I didn’t hear anyone say anything about lynching and the vibe was certainly not pro-lynching.”
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Video taken by Mykkanen shows one man yelling, “Lynch him” and another saying, “Hit him in the p-ssy.”
Mykkanen told Willamette Week she was attending the party with her bi-racial boyfriend, proving her a different perspective.
Could no one else see how wrong this was? I was so ashamed to be associated with these people, and regretted subjecting my boyfriend to this. He was standing next to me, the only black man the room; I could only imagine how terrible he felt to witness such a scene and crowd.
And maybe I wouldn’t have reacted so viscerally if I weren’t madly in love with a biracial man. And maybe loving him has opened my eyes to learning and perspectives I couldn’t have imagined in the past. And maybe that is my privilege, which I will own. But it is also my honor, this man and our relationship, which I will defend forever. We left after that. Didn’t stick around to see what was inside the piñata. When we got outside, my boyfriend said to me “Fifty years ago people did that to human beings just because they looked like me.”
Are we sliding back down that slippery slope? Once I stopped shaking I texted my boss and the owner my notice of resignation, as soon as I can find other employment. I told them I was deeply disgusted and disappointed and ashamed to represent or be associated with the businesses if this is what they stand for. I hope someone will take accountability for the actions that night…..
It was a modern day mob lynching of an effigy. Am I the only one that can see that? That can see the historical context and symbolism of oppression around this? People thought it was okay just because it was Trump, because everyone in Portland hates Trump, right? But is it okay to lynch someone just because they are hated by a group of people? Does this sound familiar to anyone else? How can my boyfriend and I be the only ones seeing something wrong with this situation? Is that where we are now in this country?
Lewis disputed Mykannen’s claim about it being “white co-workers” who were pummeling the Trump figure.
“We have a very diverse group of people there,” Lewis said.
In her essay, Mykannen also noted that she is not a supporter of Trump, Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.:
Yes it was an effigy of Trump; no I do not support him or want him to be president. But I don’t support Hillary, either, or Bernie.
I realized long, long ago that popular vote doesn’t mean anything, that the electoral college is bought and paid for far in advance, (obviously).
I learned to see that the whole goddamn election and presidency are just a dog and pony show to distract us from the corporate oligarchy that actually runs the country.
But can I say that out loud in Portland? Will I be on the end of that rope next if I disagree with the majority? Is Portland the birthplace of Neo- McCarthyism?
Online comments about the incident include:
- “What’s wrong with this company? Its a Christmas party. Christmas is a time to be caring and helping one another not lynching someone. What a d—–bag company this is. What a classless bunch of drunks! I don’t care for Trump or Hillary but this act is just pathetic. A lynching at a friggen Christmas party is about as tasteless as it comes.”
- “Do you have any clue as to how piñatas work? Maybe stop clutching your pearls so hard and realize that this woman was bound determined to climb up on the cross of indignation.”
- “I’d rather be deplorable than demented.”
- “What if it had been an effigy of Obama?”
Follow Joe Kovacs on Twitter @JoeKovacsNews