Until earlier this week, Bethany Sherman was a co-owner—with her partner and co-parent Matthew L. Combs—of OG Analytical, a cannabis testing lab in Eugene, Oregon.
By all accounts, they were high-profile members in Oregon’s burgeoning marijuana industry—so high-profile that when the Oregonian investigated product quality in Oregon dispensaries, the newspaper used their lab to test samples.
As the Oregonian reported, Sherman quit on Wednesday following claims from Eugene Antifa that she “participates in neo-Nazi activities.”
She plans to sell the lab—which has already lost “100 percent” of its business after word got out, a lab worker said—and to sever all ties with the company.
She also issued a statement… in which she didn’t really deny the allegations, not much at all.
We’ve only just begun this story, but let’s take a brief step back to offer some context: Oregon has Nazis. You could even say that Oregon, home to one of the country’s most liberal cities (with a very dark, white-hooded past) in Portland—where a brain-addled white supremacist killed two people and seriously wounded a third after they took umbrage to a racist tirade he was unloading on two women on a commuter train—has something of a serious problem with Nazis.
You don’t need to drive too far into Oregon’s hinterland to see Confederate flags and find Trump country. And yes, even twee Portland produces more than its fair share of groups that share many values with the alt-right—even if they publicly disavow such foul beliefs as white supremacy, while showing up at the same events. These include Patriot Prayer, which organized some alt-right-friendly rallies in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the right-wing militia organizations hired by the official local Republican Party to provide “official” security for those same events.
So. Back to Bethany Sherman.
According to Eugene Antifa, Sherman and Combs, who co-founded the testing lab in 2013, provided material support for neo-Nazi rallies and activities, and cultivated online presences with white-supremacist values.
Combs, Antifa says, is an organizer for a group called the “American Patriots Brigade,” and showed up at an April 24 rally described as a “Holocaust denial” event. Sherman supplied food and vocal support for neo-Nazi rallies and gatherings.
Eugene Antifa doxxed the couple on Nov. 23, after gaining access to chat logs on the messaging app Discord, which is popular with white supremacists.
The pair frequently corresponded with pleasant fellows with the word “genocide” in their handles. Sherman also allegedly operated a Twitter account using the handle @14th_word. The account has since been deactivated, but the account’s bio read, “#nationalist mommy. Our children deserve to be raised in a wholesome environment free of oppression against whites.”
The number “14” is a hallmark of white-supremacist groups. It refers to the “14 words:” “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”
Multiple marijuana companies have distanced themselves from OG Analytical since the allegations became public.
“We have already seen a 100 percent decline in our business,” lab director Rodger Voelker told the Oregonian. “Nobody likes Nazis.”
Trade organizations in the state have also accepted the allegations of Nazi ties as “substantiated” and similarly distanced themselves from the couple and their erstwhile company.
For her part, Sherman offered, at best, what you could call an Orwellian sorry-not-sorry.
She denied being a neo-Nazi, all while admitting she absolutely has “white pride,” and sought out online communities with similar values. She also referred to Antifa—you know, the people who generally only have beef with Nazis—as an “extremist, domestic terrorist organization,” an opinion of Antifa generally only held by people with beliefs copacetic to alt-right values. You know—Nazis.
“I find it extremely disconcerting that it is admired and revered to have ‘gay pride,’ ‘black pride,’ ‘Asian pride,’ or pride in any other cultural heritage, but if you have ‘white pride’ it automatically makes you a Nazi, and you are ostracized, attacked, and lynched by your community,” she wrote in a statement sent to The Oregonian, in which she waxed on at length about all the good things she’s done for the community, without ever really distancing herself too much from Nazis.
“I admit, I am proud that I am white, and I’m not ashamed of my heritage,” she went on, before going for the gold. “And I admit that I have been so conditioned to feel shame about this pride that I discreetly sought community where I could.”
According to Voelker, soon after the allegations became public earlier this week, Sherman stopped by the lab, where she verbally accosted her soon-to-be-former employees for not standing up and supporting her once the allegations became public.
In general, there are a few things people who aren’t Nazis won’t do when accused of Nazism and the sadly large tent of Nazi-friendly values. They won’t say they are proud to be white or otherwise hold “white pride,” which is a motto of white-supremacist organizations. They won’t say they are victims only of a “thought crime.” And they won’t show up to work and berate their shocked and appalled employees for not giving them cover.
In other words, they won’t act like Nazis.