Jonathan Lopez, who was a runner-up in Umatilla County's May Democratic primary, reported on Facebook last month that he had received a threatening letter that used anti-black and anti-Mexican slurs.
- Lopez shared a photo of the typo-filled missive, which said he was “not welcome” in the county and could be killed and used a fertilizer for crops because of his Mexican heritage.
- “Go back to your worthless country … Theres no room for people like you here!” the text said.
- “America is for the God fearing, pro gun, pro life humans who refuse to be controlled by the government.”
- The letter was addressed to “Mr lopez” and signed, “Sincerely, America.”
- He also expressed pride in his Mexican grandparents and claimed to have served in the U.S. Coast Guard.
- The post has since been deleted.
Police Chief Jason Edminston said in an email to the East Oregonian newspaper on Monday that Lopez had formally acknowledged that he "fabricated" the letter and the district attorney was considering a misdemeanor charge of initiating a false report.
- Edminston said Lopez's deception had strained his department's limited resources and "needlessly" addded to "the incredible tension that exists in our nation today."
- "As a lifelong resident of this diverse community, I’m disgusted someone would try to carelessly advance their personal ambitions at the risk of others,” he said.
- Edminston also said Lopez had lied about doing Coast Guard service in a campaign document, a federal crime under the Stolen Valor Act of 2013.
- “I never meant to file a report, it just kind of spiraled out,” said Lopez, a member of Hermiston’s Hispanic Advisory Committee.
- Last month, NASCAR mistook a garage door pull for a noose initially said to be targeting black driver Bubba Wallace.
- Such cases, as well as what have appeared to be outright hoaxes, like black and gay actor Jussie Smollett's alleged attack, have led some commentators to identify a trend of fake hate crimes in the Trump era.
- According to experts, hate crimes are a difficult category to track, and hate crime hoaxes even more so, due to the self-reported nature of most claims.