The annual Avenue of Roses Parade in Portland, Oregon, has been called off after the organizers received specific threats of violence from anarchist groups. An anonymous email included threats that, if the Multnomah County Republican Party was allowed to participate, their members would be forcibly removed by their large band of thugs. The email bragged: “You have seen how much power we have downtown and that the police cannot stop us from shutting down roads so please consider your decision wisely.” This is a reference to the riots in Portland in November in which citizens were terrorized and millions of dollars worth of property damage occurred over a period of almost a week.
The email included links to two Facebook events: “Defend Portland from Fascists at the Avenue Of Roses Parade,” hosted by Direct Action Alliance, and “Shut down fascism! No nazis in Portland!,” hosted by Oregon Students Empowered. Both groups are affiliated with the Antifa movement, which has violently confronted participants in Trump rallies across the nation.
This is the full email to parade organizers:
The Facebook event from Direct Action Alliance reads:
In response, the Multnomah County Republican Party issued a press release along with a letter to the mayor, chief of police, and district attorney of Portland, asking for cooperation to provide sufficient security and investigate the anarchists. The letter to the city said, in part:
This is criminal conduct. The author is threatening, and has already taken overt acts toward organizing the crime of riot: “while participating with five or more other persons the person engages in tumultuous and violent conduct and thereby intentionally or recklessly creates a grave risk of causing public alarm.” ORS 166.015. At the least, what is described is a criminal conspiracy to engage in the crime of disorderly conduct in the second degree: an intentional “[o]bstruct[ion of] vehicular or pedestrian traffic on a public way”. (ORS 166.025(1)(d). Other, even more disturbing threats are appearing on Facebook (copy also enclosed).
Before the GOP could have the requested discussion with organizers and city officials, an announcement was made that the entire event — parade and carnival — was canceled. Parade organizers released a simple statement explaining that “following threats of violence during the parade by multiple groups planning to demonstrate at the event, we can no longer guarantee the safety of our community and have made the difficult decision to cancel the parade and carnival.”
The cancellation of the parade has caused a firestorm in local media, with widespread condemnation of the anarchists. One comment left on the Multnomah County Republican Party website represented the predominant reaction among a vast number of Portlanders:
I’m a life-long Democrat — and appalled by the brownshirts threatening violence against you and the Avenue of Roses Parade. This is an attack against free speech, an attack against freedom of association, and nothing less than domestic terrorism, and should be vigorously pursued as such by federal, state and local authorities.
Media accounts differ regarding whether or not Portland Police said they could provide adequate security for the event in light of the threats. The spokesman for PPD, Pete Simpson, told local media: “We were aware of threats to disrupt the Avenue of Roses Parade on Saturday and were prepared to provide a police response appropriate to the needs of the event, which has traditionally been a family-friendly affair.” This contradicts an anonymous statement given by someone involved in the parade: “In subsequent discussions with the city, the source said, the Portland Police Bureau made clear that it did not have the resources to provide extra security to the parade.”
James Buchal, chair of the Multnomah County GOP, summed up the frustrations of many Republicans and many other Portland citizens by noting that the cancellation of the parade is the latest in a series of appeasements to the anarchists who feel as if they have free rein from city leaders. In a statement to the press, he said:
We are very disappointed at the cancellation of the Parade. Criminals committed to riot and disorder have bullied the parade organizers into causing Oregon moms, dads, kids, and well-meaning community organizations to lose their opportunity to participate in this cherished annual Oregon tradition. We are also angry that, once again, local civic leaders didn’t do enough to prevent organized gangs of criminal thugs from running rampant in the City.
According to the criminal elements, they control the streets of Portland. This is a form of domestic terrorism, and our public officials are not responding appropriately. Worse than doing nothing, their refusal to take appropriate action enables these domestic terrorists to restrict the rights of other Oregonians.
The Multnomah County Republican Party offered to work with Portland Police to ensure adequate security, as they have for many events in the past. Instead, the decision of the parade organizers and the silence from City Hall have deprived the entire city of a family-friendly event. Every Portlander is a victim of the bullying by the anarchists. In an ironic twist, those who preach against so-called fascism are employing fascist tactics to forcibly deny the constitutionally protected rights of members of the community who wanted to participate in this civic event.
Disclaimer: Jeff Reynolds is a member of the Executive Committees of both the Multnomah County GOP and the Oregon GOP.