Democratic Party of Oregon Won’t Immediately Remove Graffiti on Its Building Memorializing Slain Activist

“Although the graffiti to our building is significant, any damage is insignificant compared to the community’s tremendous grief over this senseless death," a statement from the DPO read.

A memorial to Sean Kealiher on Oct. 13, 2019. (Briana Ybanez)

Mourners gathered Sunday night outside the Democratic Party of Oregon's office building in Northeast Portland to honor 23-year old Sean Kealiher, a leftist activist who was hit and killed by an SUV early Saturday morning. The SUV crashed into the party's building and was abandoned by its driver.

During the gathering on Sunday night, people in the crowd drew graffiti on the walls of the DPO's building. The images depict antifascist symbols, including the "iron front" symbol characterized by three arrows—which first emerged in Nazi-era Germany as a symbol of opposition to fascism.

The DPO said in a Monday afternoon statement it would not be removing the graffiti from its building.

"While the location of this horrific incident may have been unintentional, we respect the desires of mourners to congregate at the scene of this crime," the statement read. "Although the graffiti to our building is significant, any damage is insignificant compared to the community's tremendous grief over this senseless death."

Graffiti on the Democratic Party of Oregon headquarters on the evening of Oct. 13, 2019. (Briana Ybanez)

The Democratic Party of Oregon said in the statement that people mourning Kealiher's death "can count on our support."

The Oregonian first reported on the DPO's decision.

On Saturday, two WW reporters visited the area around Cider Riot, the Northeast Portland cidery that Kealiher patronized. The bar, a hangout for antifascists and other left-wing activists, is one block from where Kealiher was killed. One reporter visited midday, and the other reporter visited around 8 pm.

Both reporters received an icy reception from customers at the cidery.

Multiple patrons WW approached told them they would not and do not speak to the media. One man told WW that he wouldn't talk to the media or to cops. He said that he had approached a group of reporters camped out outside of the cidery earlier in the day and expressed his disapproval of media attention.

Meanwhile, tributes to Kealiher were held by antifascist organizations across the country, and several political figures offered their condolences, including Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.

Portland police haven't released any updates on the case since Saturday afternoon, when thy released Kealiher's identity and said detectives were investigating his death as a homicide.

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