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Grand jury indicts Medford counter-protester with hate crime

A White City man is the third suspect to be indicted with a weapons violations and the first to be charged with a hate crime surrounding separate alleged incidents against Black Lives Matter demonstrators gathered in downtown Medford.

A grand jury Tuesday indicted Christopher Ryan Biggs, 38, on felony counts of first-degree bias crime and unlawful use of a weapon along with misdemeanor counts of menacing and recklessly endangering another person surrounding a June 1 altercation with protesters, according to a release issued by the Jackson County District Attorney’s office.

As of Tuesday evening, the charges had not yet been filed in Jackson County Circuit Court, and few details about the June 1 incident involving Biggs were released.

What’s known is Medford police arrested Biggs June 10 on the bias charge, along with misdemeanor counts of reckless driving, recklessly endangering another person and menacing, according to Jackson County Jail records. He was booked in the jail and released the same day after posting bail.

According to Oregon law, first-degree bias crime is a Class C felony that involves intentionally causing physical injury or “placing another person in fear of imminent serious physical injury” because of “the person’s perception of another person’s race, color, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or national origin.”

Biggs is scheduled to make his first appearance in Jackson County Circuit Court on the charges Aug. 11, according to the release issued by Deputy District Attorney Michael Cohen, who is prosecuting the case.

Cohen said Aug. 11 was the soonest court date they could arrange for Biggs because of courthouse limits on the number of appearances in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Last week, the grand jury indicted individuals identified as David Robert Westmoreland, 51, and Marcella Rene Welch, 55, both Medford residents, with felony unlawful use of a weapon charges on accusations they pulled guns on crowds of Black Lives Matter demonstrations in separate incidents that occurred June 1 and 6. Both incidents were captured in photos and video by demonstrators, according to earlier news reports, with the June 1 incident involving Westmoreland being witnessed by a Mail Tribune reporter covering the rally.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.