More Than Sympathy

The Rogue News Staff takes a stand against racism in our community


The Ashland community is dealing with an immeasurable loss of life recently with the fatal shooting of Aidan Ellison, a former student at Ashland High School, on November 23. Aidan was shot once in the chest in the parking lot of the Stratford Inn in Ashland after being confronted by a hotel guest who initiated an argument with Ellison about the volume of his music. His shooter, Robert Paul Keegan, has now pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, unlawful possession and reckless endangerment.

The homicide of Aidan Ellison is tragic. Black youth are consistently profiled, harassed and killed throughout the United States. Though the story of a young black man being shot for playing his music too loud seems very unfamiliar and foreign to many in Ashland, we now know that things like this are capable of permeating the bubble. This shooting was senseless, and Aidan’s death deserves justice. Ashland is known for its supposed thoroughly liberal beliefs and passion for justice, but with a predominantly white population, an anti-black past, and a present that hasn’t seen substantive change, Ashland isn’t nearly as anti-racist as it’s thought to be. To assume Ashland is a liberal and anti-racist haven is not only whitewashing, but it also upholds Ashland’s contribution to systemic racism as a whole. It is only through acknowledging the ways that our community contributes to an anti-black culture, holding racist individuals accountable for their actions and hearing the stories and voices of black people throughout Ashland and the surrounding area that we can hope to begin to construct a safer community for black people throughout Southern Oregon.

We extend our heartfelt sympathy to Aidan’s family and friends, though we recognize that that’s not nearly enough. At Rogue News, we understand that our predominantly white staff writes from an extremely privileged position, and we are dedicated to advocating for justice and resources that promote the voices of people of color. It is imperative that people with a position of privilege commit themselves to dismantling systemic racism within their communities, their homes, and themselves.