I find it bewildering that The Observer has chosen to implicate participants in the recent Black Lives Matter protest in the spread of COVID-19 within our community. Both the pointed mention in the feature article on June 16 and the photo of the demonstration — prominently featured above the fold on the front page — heavily imply the event factored in the proliferation of the virus. At best, this editorial choice is carelessly misleading. At worst, it smacks of conscious journalistic misconduct.
Even with the generous allowance that six of the 234 newly confirmed cases may have no connection to Lighthouse Pentecostal Church, a stunning 98% of these cases have been linked to that congregation. To suggest, without evidence, that the protest contributed to this outbreak will only create further ill-will toward BLM supporters and greater division in our community.
Editor's note: The Center for Human Development did not confirm the source of the outbreak for the article that ran June 16. The center instead said the outbreak had more than one source and large gatherings posed the risk of spreading the virus, which The Observer reported The day the article published, The Oregon Health Authority confirmed the church was the source of the outbreak, and The Observer has subsequently reported that.