ASHLAND, Ore. — A joint statement from racial justice group Southern Oregon Coalition for Racial Equity (SOEquity) and a local law firm on Monday promised civil action related to the November killing of 19-year-old Aidan Ellison, including several lawsuits.
SOEquity and the Law Office of Justin Rosas announced that they would hold a press conference at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday in Ashland's Railroad Park, alongside Ellison's mother, Andrea Wofford.
"At this conference, we will be oﬃcially announcing the formation of an independent civil remedies team, two lawsuits that will be launched on behalf of Aidan and his family, and a Celebration of Life scheduled for Aidan, among other community events and calls to action," the statement reads.
Ellison, a young Black man, was gunned down in the parking lot of Ashland's Stratford Inn on November 23. Police arrested 47-year-old Robert Keegan, a white man, who allegedly shot Ellison after the two argued over the volume of the younger man's music.
The shooting sparked renewed discourse over the legacy of racism in southern Oregon. The Ashland Police Department requested FBI assistance to evaluate the case for potential bias crime charges, but the agency has maintained that any evidence of racial motivation for Ellison's killing has not been substantiated.
"The murder of Aidan Ellison and the biased responses of the local police departments and news outlets has shown a light on the need for a more intentional, equity-focused and community-driven response to instances of racial bias and oppression," SOEquity and Justin Rosas' office said. "That is why we are forming an independent civil remedies team to ensure that instances of violent racism like this in Southern Oregon are addressed not only through the criminal system, but that every avenue - civil, professional, and otherwise are also pursued and pursued vigilantly."
According to the joint statement, SOEquity and Rosas will be working to train a certiﬁed racial equity investigator to respond to cases of racial bias and discrimination. with buy-in from Lawyers for Justice and other local attorneys.
"At the press conference, we will make a public call for doctors, writers, ﬁnancial advisors, mental health professionals and counselors, journalists, city oﬃcials, lawyers, and other invested community members to join us in creating the most robust team possible," the group said.