PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A potentially violent battle between opposite sides of free speech prompted organizers to cancel this coming Saturday’s 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade, one of the early events in this year’s Rose Festival.
The 11th annual parade was set to begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and was billed online as a “multicultural event, complete with bands, community members, government officials, schools, classic cars and representatives of the Portland Rose Festival.”
But organizers canceled the parade after Direct Action Alliance created a Facebook event called “Defend Portland from Fascists at the Avenue of Roses Parade.” The group wanted to disrupt the march because of “Nazis and fascists” participating.
“The fascists know that we’ll keep shutting their marches down,” the Facebook event states. “They are now planning to march within other parades to protect their message of hate and white supremacy — it won’t work.”
Direct Action Alliance was referring to group #67, which they said is “registered to the Multnomah County Republicans.” They described the group as white supremacists responsible for “attacking a woman at PDX,” among other incidents.
Someone also allegedly emailed parade organizers, warning that 200 or more people would “rush into the parade into the middle and drag and push those people out,” unless they revoked the Multnomah County Republican Party’s registration.
Direct Action Alliance made it clear their counter-event was not planned in opposition to the 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade, but was “against the fascists who intend to march through our neighborhoods and intimidate our marginalized communities.”
Commissioner Nick Fish condemned the groups for causing the event to be canceled.
“It’s a celebration of all the positive things happening in… our city,” he said. “For some politically extreme groups to have a fight like this to jeopardize a parade is shameful.”
Direct Action Alliance released a statement in response to the event’s cancellation:
“We are disappointed that the Avenue of Roses Parade has been cancelled. As members of this community, we prize our neighborhood events and support events that promote community.Known members of neo-nazi and anti immigrant hate groups planned to attend the group that was being hosted by the Multnomah County Republicans at the parade. We intended to stand between them and those who they wanted to intimidate. We intended to block out their hate and shut down their violence.They want to march in a family parade and normalize a man who bragged about sexually assaulting women; they want to march in our diverse community and normalize a man who wants to ban Muslims and build a wall between us and our neighbor, Mexico. They want to march as the Republican Party, but in their ranks are groups like the “Bible Believers”, who have already come to this neighborhood to intimidate a local Latinex church and who were filmed assaulting an injured activist on the ground in Berkeley last week and were also filmed attacking a woman at PDX in January.No Portland child will see a march in support of this fascist regime go unopposed.We will always stand with our neighbors, we will always defend our community.” – Jacob Bureros, Direct Action Alliance
Rich Jarvis with the Portland Rose Festival, which partners with but does not run the 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade, described the turn of events as sad:
“The Rose Festival is saddened to learn that this wonderful community event, in one of Portland’s most culturally enriched neighborhoods, has been cancelled due the ongoing political divisiveness in our country.” – Rich Jarvis
The 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association released this statement Tuesday:
“For more than a decade, 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association, in partnership with local businesses, residents and community groups, has hosted the 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade. This event, created to celebrate and promote East Portland and the diverse community that lives, works and plays on 82nd Avenue is also the first sanctioned event of the Portland Rose Festival.Following threats of violence during the Parade by multiple groups planning to disrupt the event, 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association can no longer guarantee the safety of our community and have made the difficult decision to cancel the Parade originally scheduled for Saturday, April 29 at 9:30am. The related Carnival at Eastport Plaza is also cancelled. We are deeply disappointed that the agendas of these outside groups have so regrettably impacted East Portland and the 82nd Avenue community.While the formal Parade and Carnival are cancelled, we strongly encourage Portlanders to visit the great businesses on 82nd Avenue of Roses on Saturday and in the future.” – 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association