William “Bill” Euille (left) and Paul Haire (right)
Photo by Vernon Miles.
If you go by Eugene Simpson Stadium Park today, there’s a good chance
you’ll find children playing baseball. At the nearby YMCA, people still come and go from workout routine and community events. A few heart decorations and a giant banner that reads “Reject Hate” are all the evidence that remains that two weeks ago, this field was the scene of an attempted assassination and bloody firefight.
The Reject Hate banner is the creation of former Mayor William “Bill” Euille, a Democrat, and his friend Paul Haire, a Republican.
The morning of the shooting, Euille had left the YMCA and headed home to drink his morning coffee. When he got home, he was hit with a barrage of texts asking if he was all right. Confused, Euille grabbed his phone and saw that there was an active shooting back near the YMCA. Euille got in his car and immediately drove to the scene. He got as close as he could and ended up in a nearby coffee shop, where one of the congressmen fled to and explained what happened.
“It dawned on me, this was bad news for the city and the nation,” said Euille. “This was a strike on democracy.”
Euille said he called Haire, who lived near the field in a home over his store, Your Dog’s Best Friend. The two of them immediately began to plan what they could do in response to this. That night, they organized a community walk to support the first responders, but it still felt like more needed to be done. This attack was only the latest in a string of incidents to shake the Del Rey community. Euille said the neighborhood persevered through the series of murders committed by Charles Severance and racist flyers plastered across the city streets. Knowing that the baseball field would be the scene of national media coverage for days, the two of them decided to put something on display that would show that the Del Ray neighborhood was unafraid and would persevere through this.
“We wanted to show that the reaction was one of respect, pride and generosity,” said Euille.
“Del Rey is incredible,” said Haire. “I don’t want that to get lost … and we wanted the world to see it. I consider myself a Republican, but it doesn’t matter what party the victims are,” said Haire. “This was the nexus of mental illness and hate. It doesn’t matter who started the violent rhetoric, it has to stop on both sides.”
Haire says he worked in the senate during the Ronald Reagan presidency and said he saw moderate Republicans work together with moderate Democrats.
“It starts in people’s hearts,” said Haire. “Let's have disagreements, but let's stop having hateful disagreements. I don’t think the shooter would have done this if he didn’t think he’d be seen as a hero afterwards.”
The sign will hang above the baseball field until July 8, when the Little League season is over. As Euille walks around the city, he says he’s been proud to see homes and other stores displaying similar signs.