A Portland woman quit her job after attending a company holiday party where she says employees lynched a Trump piñata.
Sarah Mykkanen quit after a holiday party for Roscoe's, Stein Haus, and Miyamoto Sushi, three Montavilla spots with overlapping ownership.
In an essay she sent to WW, she explains that the party was a "usual holiday party" where it was "kind of awkward to see everyone outside of work," until employees began lynching and striking an effigy of Donald Trump.
“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.
The room filled with my white co-workers became a lynch mob when they started chanting “lynch him!” and “lynch the bitch!” People were laughing and taking snapchats and cheering as they swung around the effigy of Trump from a noose.
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 pussy!”
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?”
We spoke to Roscoe's owner Jeremy Lewis, who says the piñata was bought by an employee and that it was not a noose but just a rope holding it up.
"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 tells WW. "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."
Mykkanen's video does show one man yelling, "lynch him" and another saying "hit him in the pussy."
Mykkanen was at the party with her bi-racial boyfriend, which she says gave 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 also disputes Mykannen's statement about it being her "white co-workers" who were attacking the piñata. "We have a very diverse group of people there," he says.
Mykannen says she left the party soon after the incident began and did not see what was inside the piñata. (Lewis tells us it was chocolate and chocolate alcohol bottles.)
She then texted her boss her notice of resignation, saying she'll work for two more weeks, unless she's able to find another job sooner.
"I don't want to diminish how she feels," Lewis said. "We gave her time to cool down, but it looks like the resignation is going to stay."
Mykannen went on to write that she is not a Trump supporter—nor a supporter of Hillary Clinton, or of 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?
Full disclosure: At Willamette Week's Cinco De Mayo party we smashed a Trump effigy while drinking margaritas and broadcast the entire thing on Facebook live. Video below.