An Oregon anti-immigrant activist and blogger is being held on five counts of using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct, two counts of sex abuse and two counts of hindering prosecution.
According to a news report appearing in the Salem Statesman Journal yesterday, Bruce Elliot Benkle, a barber at the Fairview Barbershop in Dalles, was arrested last month on a range of sex abuse charges he is suspected of committing on both male and female children. He is currently lodged in the Polk County Jail with bail set at $200,000.
Bruce Benkle, a well known anti-immigrant activist frequently seen holding signs and taking photos for Oregonians for Immigration Reform at their events, is a frequent commenter among Oregon’s top anti-immigrant weblogs. Benkle, who goes by “Bruce the Barber” among other pseudonyms, is often seen commenting on Daniel’s Political Musings, one of Oregon’s most active anti-immigrant blogs. He is also seen regularly posting comments on message boards of news sites in the Marion County area and elsewhere.
Yesterday’s story caught our attention as there were similarities between a mugshot of Benkle and a photo (on the left) of anti-immigrant blogger “Bruce the Barber”. It wasn’t until reviewing an entry appearing at Daniel’s Political Musings from last March that the photo along with another were in fact that of Bruce Benkle and Vice President of Oregonians for Immigration Reform and Vice Chairman of the Marion County Republican Party, Rick Hickey, at an OFIR-Oregon Minuteman rally.
In the photos, the two are shown holding signs with other OFIR activists outside the office of the Service Employees International Union Local 503 during an anti-immigrant rally in downtown Portland. Benkle later commented on the entry identifying himself in the photo with Hickey.
Benkle has a long history of threatening and intimidating behavior, and racist commentary. Among his racist commentary, one in particular shows him boasting on Daniel’s Political Musings of a website he enjoys with cartoons he says are "a little racist". “If you want to e-mail me”, Benkle said “I will show you a website with a lot of funny cartoons about Mexicans and others, and NO they are not racist....well maybe a little” Following the comment he left his signature "old time barber" email address that he often posts along with his full name on other internet sites.
As a close ally of the leadership at Oregonians for Immigration Reform, the identification of Bruce Benkle’s enjoyment of promoting racist material comes on the heals of a report released last week by the Southern Poverty Law Center showing among other things white supremacists among the ranks of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a group that is directly linked on OFIR’s website.
According to the Polk County Sheriff's office, they have concerns that there may be many more victims of Benkle, as he used the barber shop in Dalles to perpetrate many of the sex crimes. In a KATU News report, Polk county prosecutor Tim Park said that “every time we talk to one [victim], it turned up one or two more, and it's kind of in a domino effect”. Police are asking parents whose children may have had any unsupervised contact with Benkle to contact them immediately.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
10:48 AM CAUSA Communications Department 1 comment