Watch: Man Brings Rock to Public Meeting, Threatens to Stone Out Official

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday August 5, 2021

Klamath Falls, Ore. city official Eric Osterberg
Klamath Falls, Ore. city official Eric Osterberg  (Source:Eric Osterberg/Facebook)

Klamath Falls, Oregon, Assistant City Manager Eric Osterberg got a taste of that old-time religion when a man carrying a rock into a public meeting told him he should be "stoned" for being gay and accused him of "spreading AIDS," local newspaper the Herald and News reports.

The Aug. 2 meeting at Klamath Falls city hall was "focused on addressing racism and increasing equity," the newspaper article writes. Osterberg, who is African American, served as the "staff lead for the Klamath Falls equity task force".

Osterberg "was prepared to deliver the task force's final report to the Klamath Falls city council" when an agitated man clutching a large rock sat next to him.

Osterberg adopted a friendly approach, initially saying hello to the man. But what he got in return was hostility.

"Oh, so you think we are all racist?" the man demanded, according to the newspaper. "You think you are the second coming of Christ?"

Calling Osterberg "blasphemous" and accusing him of "spreading AIDS," the man then said, "You are a sinner and you need to be stoned. That is why I brought this stone."

The man was escorted out of city hall, but not placed under arrest since, according to police, there was "not enough information to arrest him" at the time, U.K. newspaper the Independent reported.

Osterberg pressed ahead with the meeting as scheduled, though he did acknowledge the ugly incident.

"I just want to start the meeting off by pointing [out] to you that just having a simple conversation about racism in our community is gaining that level of violence, that threat of violence," he said to the assembled city councilors and members of the public.

Osterberg added that "people are being threatened by violence in order to try and silence them. And I think that is pretty damning of the community."

The officer who escorted the unidentified man out of the building, Klamath Falls police chief Robert Dentinger, said that he became concerned when he heard the man "making comments under his breath." Once he had escorted the man outside, Dentinger said, the man left without further incident.

Dentinger said that the man's identity is known to police, and they would follow up on the matter.

Osterberg noted to the newspaper that he had anticipated there might be friction around the equity report, but nothing like the belligerence he encountered.

"I was very surprised to see that there was going to be a direct threat of violence against me personally," he related. "I was frankly more concerned for the safety of the task force members, and we talked about and kind of strategized how we were going to keep ourselves safe coming into the meeting."

Osterberg is set for a promotion: The newspaper noted that he "will soon leave Klamath Falls to take over the city manager role in Ferguson, Missouri."

Watch Osterberg's comments to the meeting, embedded as a video in the tweet below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.