PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The mere rumor of possible marches, rallies or protests stirs up real fear in marginalized communities, said the leader of the Oregon Coalition Against Hate Crimes.
Randy Blazak told KOIN 6 News these events lead to anxiety and makes some people worried to even go through their day-to-day lives in the downtown area.
“These things kind of end up being a snowball rolling down a hill, where it becomes this great expectation there’s going to be conflict,” he said Thursday. “People are having a hard time sleeping. They’re wondering if they can go in to the city. They’re wondering if there are places they can feel safe.”
With the city denouncing violence and hate groups, Blazak said a message has to be sent from the city to its citizens — and others — that make its values clear.
“The main goal is to make sure that life as normal can continue in the city of Portland while at the same time we make this very clear statement in opposition to white supremacy and bigotry,” Blazak said.
Some in the alt-right, he said, wants the clashes to start the next Civil War.
“There is this real threat behind what those folks ultimately want,” he said.
The mask-wearing antifa members have come under scrutiny for a number of issues, including their masks.
“It adds to the frightening images that antifa sort of presents and used by the other side as this image that Portland is run by these left-wing terrorists that are running the streets,” Blazak said.
But the real battle against the looming threats of fascism in the United States, he said, is in Washington DC. People need to vote and create some kind of dialogue and opportunities for engagement and commonality.