PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Multnomah County Library in Hollywood closed Sunday after dozens of people protested a group planning to use one of their public meeting rooms.
It all began when the Multnomah County Library said a representative from the Women’s Liberation Front reserved the library meeting room for a speaking event with a similar group, Women’s Declaration International, “on the subject of protecting women’s and children’s rights where several women will give short speeches,” according to the group. The library reviewed their application and allowed their use of the meeting room.
WLF describes itself as “a feminist group created by women, for women,” dedicated to re-affirming what the group refers to as “the sex-based rights of women and girls.” But critics say they are anti-transgender.
A representative from the Women’s Liberation Front later claimed that the organization never reserved the space and that the person who made the reservation was “not truthful” and not affiliated with the organization.
This garnered protest inclinations from members of the community more than a week ago, according to the WDI. But graffiti was sprayed on the library’s walls just last night. According to a spokesperson with the library, the graffiti has now been removed, but there is still “some new mess on the windows.”
However, dozens of protesters covered the whole block Sunday afternoon, gathering outside the closed library and carrying signs, with one reading “Feminists don’t support the alt-right.”
After library leadership spoke with Multnomah County security, Portland Police Bureau, and event organizers, WLF chose to hold their activity outside of the library and not use the meeting room.
In a statement on the use of public meeting rooms posted on their website, Multnomah County Library stated, in part:
“In accommodating such uses, Multnomah County Library supports and endorses the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights. That document includes this principle: ‘Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.’”
PPB told KOIN 6 News that they received calls related to this event, but there were not enough personnel available to respond.
The Hollywood Library will resume normal operations on Monday.