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Please add profiles of those who were born, lived or died in Eugene, Oregon.

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Eugene is the county seat of Lane County and is known as "Emerald City" and "Track Town, USA"


French fur traders had settled seasonally in the Willamette Valley by the beginning of the 19th century. Having already developed relationships with Native communities through intermarriage and trade, they negotiated for land from the Kalapuyans. By 1828 to 1830 they and their Native wives began year-round occupation of the land, raising crops and tending animals. In this process, the mixed race families began to impact Native access to land, food supply, and traditional materials for trade and religious practices.

In July 1830, "intermittent fever" struck the lower Columbia region and a year later, the Willamette Valley. Natives traced the arrival of the disease, then new to the Northwest, to the U.S. ship, Owyhee, captained by John Dominis. "Intermittent fever" is thought by researchers now to be malaria. According to Robert T. Boyd, an anthropologist at Portland State University, the first three years of the epidemic, "probably constitute the single most important epidemiological event in the recorded history of what would eventually become the state of Oregon". In his book The Coming of the Spirit Pestilence Boyd reports there was a 92% population loss for the Kalapuyans between 1830 and 1841. This catastrophic event shattered the social fabric of Kalapuyan society and altered the demographic balance in the Valley. This balance was further altered over the next few years by the arrival of Anglo-American settlers, beginning in 1840 with 13 people and growing steadily each year until within 20 years more than 11,000 US colonists, including Eugene Skinner, had arrived.

As the demographic pressure from the colonists grew, the remaining Kalapuyans were forcibly removed to Indian reservations. Though some Natives escaped being swept into the reservation, most were moved to the Grand Ronde reservation in 1856. Strict racial segregation was enforced and mixed race people, known as Métis in French, had to make a choice between the reservation and Anglo society. Native Americans could not leave the reservation without traveling papers and white people could not enter the reservation.

Eugene Franklin Skinner, after whom Eugene is named, arrived in the Willamette Valley in 1846 with 1200 other colonists that year. Advised by the Kalapuyans to build on high ground to avoid flooding, he erected the first Anglo cabin on south or west slope of what the Kalapuyans called Ya-po-ah. The "isolated hill" is now known as Skinner's Butte. The cabin was used as a trading post and was registered as an official post office on January 8, 1850.

At this time the settlement was known by Anglos as Skinner's Mudhole. It was relocated in 1853 and named Eugene City in 1853. Formally incorporated as a city in 1862, it was named simply Eugene in 1889. Skinner ran a ferry service across the Willamette River where the Ferry Street Bridge now stands.

Already a counter-culture haven, Eugene felt the change of the 1960s in a heavy way, with underground groups carrying out bombings on military targets. In September 1967, the Eugene Naval & Marine Corps Reserve Training Center was damaged by a series of explosions and fire, and in November 1967, a bomb exploded at the Air Force ROTC building. On Sept 30, 1968, unknown anti-capitalists exploded firebombs at the Eugene Armory, causing over $100,000 in damage, destroying multiple trucks and Jeeps and dealing significant destruction to the city's equipment compound. Unrest continued throughout 1969 as well, with frequent dynamite attacks on local businesses, newspapers, and Emerald Hall on the University of Oregon campus.

Student activism at the university shaped both campus and Eugene life during the times of social upheaval. Protests at the University of Oregon were the most intensely heated against the Oregon chapter of the ROTC, which was the embodiment of the war effort in Vietnam and Cambodia. The UO chapter of Students for a Democratic Society formed in 1965 but came to the forefront of campus activity in 1969, when they first led students to march and demand the removal of campus ROTC. On January 6, 1970, campus demonstrators threw animal blood onto tables at an ROTC recruitment event in order to draw attention to the war in Vietnam. Students held a public "People's Trial" of campus president Robert D. Clark, finding him guilty for "complicity in the actions of U.S. imperialism" by enabling the Oregon ROTC to have a presence on campus.

Throughout January and February 1970, anti-war student activists disrupted ROTC events and demonstrated against the war presence, culminating in unknown perpetrators setting the University of Oregon ROTC building on fire in Esslinger Hall, causing massive damage and destroying draft records of university students. In March, 150-200 students, led by the campus SDS chapter, attempted to gain entry to McArthur Court for a concert, setting off a riot that resulted in the arrest of 5 students. On April 15, 1970, the UO faculty voted by a 199-185 margin to allow the ROTC to remain on campus, which immediately led to nearly 100 students ransacking the ROTC building, breaking furniture, windows, and throwing rocks at the property, to which the police used tear gas on campus demonstrators for the first time.

The height of the Vietnam protest movement at UO occurred over three days between April 22 and April 24, 1970. At 11:00 am on the 22nd, between 50 and 100 UO students occupied Johnson Hall to protest the ROTC’s continued presence on campus, taking over the lobby of the building. The crowd grew to around 300 students by 5:00 pm, when Clark negotiated with the group to allow the protestors to remain in the lobby overnight if they remained peaceful. The protests disrupted work and on the 24th, Eugene police arrived, arresting 61 protestors, but everything remained peaceful until the National Guard arrived on the scene and escalated the situation by deploying tear gas against the crowd outside the building. News of the National Guard’s involvement led a larger congregation of nearly 2000 students to converge at Emerald Hall in protest of the incident.

On April 26, 1970, around 40 UO students successfully closed 13th Avenue through the university by erecting barricades on either end, calling it "People's Street". This protest successfully forced the Eugene City Council to hold hearings on restricting the street to non-automobile traffic, which passed and soon went into effect. On October 2, 1970, unidentified perpetrators exploded a bomb in Prince Lucien Hall, causing $75,000 in damage.

The 1970s saw an increase in community activism. Local activists stopped a proposed freeway and lobbied for the construction of the Washington Jefferson Park beneath the Washington-Jefferson Street Bridge. Community Councils soon began to form as a result of these efforts. A notable impact of the turn to community-organized politics came with Eugene Local Measure 51, a ballot measure in 1978 that repealed a gay rights ordinance approved by the Eugene City Council in 1977 that prohibited discrimination by sexual orientation.

Eugene's constant ability for protest capabilities were made clear at the beginning of the decade. In January 1991, a downtown student-led protest against the Gulf War drew 1,500 people and resulted in the arrest of 51, including 15 juveniles. Protesters carried a 10-year-old girl inside a body bag to the front door of the federal building as a symbol of war's innocent deaths. After the demonstration, a fire was set at a Eugene Marine Corps recruiting station.

On October 14, 1996, to commemorate the anniversary of Columbus Day, Earth Liberation Front activists coordinated several attacks on local fast food chains and oil companies.Two Willamette Chevron gas station locks were glued and painted with the slogan "504 Years of Genocide" and "Earth Liberation Front". Two Eugene public relation offices of Weyerhauser and Hyundai were also targeted in a similar manner. Later in the month, ELF protestors destroyed a U.S. Forest Service Ranger Station south of Eugene, causing an estimated damage of $5.3 million. These were some of the first examples of eco-defense in the United States.

Attempts by the city to remove a forest grove at downtown Broadway and Charnelton were met with protests on June 1, 1997. Forty trees in downtown Eugene were cut down to make way for a parking garage project and were met with community resistance. 22 people were arrested and the Register-Guard ran a front-page photograph showing a photographer being sprayed with pepper spray by the police. The Eugene force was accused of overreaction and excessive use of force for their flagrant use of pepper spray, which was defended by Republican mayor Jim Torrey. In the Whitaker District, citizens were further radicalized by the incident and helped spur the activist community, which was already burgeoning due to a lack of affordable housing and growing income inequality in the area.

On June 18, 1999, several months before the 1999 Seattle WTO protests, Eugene was home to a predecessor riot. Following a two-day conference at the University of Oregon about the dissolution of the country's economic system, a rally against global capitalism enveloped the streets of the downtown area. After the rally, protestors turned to the streets, stopping traffic, burning flags, and smashing windows and electronic equipment. After police responded with tear gas and pepper spray, protesters battled with police for several hours. The tear gas used by the Eugene police affected over 100 people, and 15 were arrested. Later that year, Eugene activists also played a key role in conjunction with other anarchists in organizing black bloc tactics during the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 1999 protest activity. Eugene police subsequently claimed that local anarchists were responsible for other attacks on local police officers. Local activists in turn argued that police needlessly harassed individuals wearing black clothing in response.

Mayor Jim Torrey declared Eugene to be the "Anarchist Capital of the World" in response to the riots, which some embraced. Seattle police chief Norm Stamper in his resignation speech after the 1999 WTO protests blamed the majority of the unrest on "Eugene anarchists". Influential thinkers in Eugene's scene at the time included John Zerzan, an author known for his contributions to leftist theory and who was an editor for Green Anarchy, an anarchist magazine based in the city. Anarchists and leftists continued to protest against Torrey throughout his tenure, including gathering each June 1 (the anniversary of the Broadway Place confrontations) to protest against police brutality committed under his control.

One hotspot for protest activity since the 1990s has been the Whitaker district, located in the northwest of downtown Eugene. Whitaker is primarily a working-class neighborhood that has become a vibrant cultural hub, center of community and activism and home to alternative artists. It saw an increase of activity in the 1990s after many young people drawn to Eugene's political climate relocated there. Animal rights groups have had a heavy presence in the Whiteaker, and several vegan restaurants are located there. According to David Samuels, the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front have had an underground presence in the neighborhood. The neighborhood is home to a number of communal apartment buildings, which are often organized by anarchist or environmentalist groups. Local activists have also produced independent films and started art galleries, community gardens, and independent media outlets. Copwatch, Food Not Bombs, and Critical Mass are also active in the neighborhood.

The more visible anarchist scene seemed to have died down after an upswing of several years, but protest activity still remained in Eugene. Groups such as the Neighborhood Anarchist Collective still maintained an active grassroots network, and the Eugene Share Fair has been used as a resource for organizations to market support. On June 16, 2000, environmental activists set fire to trucks at a car dealership on Franklin Boulevard. On the one-year anniversary of the 1999 riots, police again attacked demonstrators, arresting 37 and striking a KLCC reporter on the head with a baton. Later, while anarchism took a backseat, Eugene's reputation as a potent leftist center increased as overall political support in the city swung liberally.

In September 2000, members of a Eugene-based cell of the ELF burnt down the Eugene Police Department's West University Public Safety Station. Later, in March 2001, activists attacked the same car dealership on Franklin for the second time in 6 months, damaging more than 30 SUVs. Over 125 different fire attacks were set in the city between 1997 and 2001.

In January 2006, the FBI conducted Operation Backfire, leading to federal indictment of eleven people, all members of ELF. Operation Backfire was the largest investigation into radical underground environmental groups in United States history. Ongoing trials of accused eco-terrorists kept Eugene in the spotlight for a few years.

The Occupy Eugene protests grew out of the Occupy Wall Street movement which began in New York City on September 17, 2011. The Eugene protesters were concerned about fairness issues regarding wealth-distribution, banking regulation, housing issues and corporate greed. The first protest march was held on October 15, 2011 and the main encampment, located in Washington Jefferson Park lasted until December 2011. The initial Occupy Eugene demonstrations had over 2,000 attendees and began at Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza.

Eugene's George Floyd/Black Lives Matter protests grew out of the civil unrest that began in Minneapolis and spread nationwide in May 2020 after the killing of Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by a Minneapolis police officer.

In Eugene, demonstrators turned their attention to surrounding stores on May 29, and disrupted traffic and knocked trash and newsstands into the street in the downtown. Rioters crowded on to Highway I-105 and began setting fire to a nearby road sign.[66] That night, fires were set and windows were smashed. Around 11 p.m., protestors created a bonfire in the street, consisting of traffic cones, newspapers, signs from local businesses, and other items. No arrests were made on that night.

Protests - including marches, rallies, and teach-ins - continued daily for several weeks, re-igniting in response to the insertion of federal troops in Portland.

On June 13 protesters toppled the Pioneer and the Pioneer Mother during a protest of Matthew Deady (controversially the namesake of a University of Oregon building).

Over 2,000 demonstrators attended a Juneteenth Black Lives Matter protest at Alton Baker Park, which was designed to draw revenue to Black-owned businesses.

Neighborhoods: Amazon, Bethel, Cal Young, Churchill, Crest Drive, Downtown, Fairmount, Far West, Friendly, Goodpasture Island, Harlow, Industrial Corridor, Irving, Jefferson Westside, Laurel Hill Valley, Northeast, River Road, Santa Clara, South University, Southeast, Spencer Butte, Trainsong, West Eugene, West University and Whiteaker


Cemeteries of Oregon


Eugene Family History Center

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