Portland Pride takes center stage this weekend, organizers take strides toward safe events

It was a day of bright colors and celebration on Sunday at the annual Portland Pride Parade, dedicated to highlighting all the diverse aspects of the LGBTQ community. The parade caps off Pride Week in the Rose City. (KATU photo taken 6-18-2017 by Tristan Fortsch)

PORTLAND, Ore. – Two of the biggest events of Portland’s Pride Week are held this weekend – the Waterfront Festival and the Portland Pride Parade.

Each year the events draw thousands to the downtown area to celebrate the many diverse aspects of the LGBTQ community. The festival runs Saturday and Sunday in Waterfront Park, and the parade is scheduled for 11 a.m. Sunday.

Pride NW, the group organizing the events, say that safety is a top priority in how they plan the events.

“We have been working with Portland Police, our own security people, as well as community partners to do as much as we can to keep people safe, while attending Pride Northwest-associated events. The Portland Police always employ a combination of security tactics, some of which they do not share publicly,” said Pride NW’s Executive Director Debra Porta.

In a statement released Thursday, Portland Police said they are aware of concerns that some “groups or individuals” might try to disrupt the events. A bureau spokesperson said they haven’t verified any plans to disrupt the events, but said they recognize the unease of those concerns.

"We celebrate that we are an inclusive organization, with LGBTQ members and we want to show our support for them as well as our community," said Chief Danielle Outlaw. “We remind community members that we take bias crimes seriously and I want to ensure this message is clear: Portland Police Officers are sworn to protect and dedicated to serve everyone."

Police add that their presence, both patrolling the parade and participating in it, will help to ensure the safety of people at the event.

A lawyer for the organization Proud Boys NW released a letter Thursday saying the organization doesn't plan to disrupt the weekend's events.

"The Proud Boys have not planned, nor are they intending to plan, any sort of action against the GLBTQ+ community in the Portland area or anywhere else," attorney Jason Van Dyke wrote in the statement, which can be read in full below.

KATU News spoke with an organizer from a Vancouver-based far right group who says there are no plans for an organized counter protest in Portland this weekend.

Police officials said they have a longstanding partnership with the LGBTQ community through the Alliance for Safer Communities, and Portland United Against Hate.

In a release, they also issued more information on reporting bias crimes:

The Bureau investigates all reports of bias-motivated crimes and encourages any member of our community who is the victim of such a crime to contact law enforcement. Under Oregon law, bias crimes are defined as any criminal act that targets a victim based on the suspect's perception of the victim's race, color, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or national origin. Detectives work to determine whether or not bias elements are present during the reported crime that align with Oregon law as defined in the Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS):

If you have knowledge of planned criminal behavioral, have been the victim of a bias crime assault or you are witnessing one, immediately call 9-1-1. If you have been the victim of a different bias crime and the suspect is no longer present, such as vandalism or graffiti, please call the non-emergency line at 503-823-3333.


Pride Northwest Response to Safety Concerns

As members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community, the folks at Pride Northwest are as aware of the current climate in which we live, as the rest of the community.

Along with the rest of our LGBTQIA2S+ community, Pride Northwest is watching reports of white supremacist groups potentially planning to target our community during Pride Weekend. Alarming as this is, it is not the first time nor is it unexpected given the current political climate we find ourselves in.

The safety of our community is always a top priority in the planning for the Portland Pride Waterfront Festival and Parade. This year is no different. We have been working with the city, our own security people, as well as community partners to do as much as we can to keep people safe, while attending Pride Northwest-associated events.

That said, there are dozens of Pride celebrations and events across the city Pride Weekend, both large and small. Whatever your plans for the weekend, stay aware. Travel in pairs or groups, be conscious of your environment, and listen to your instincts. If it feels or looks unsafe, it probably is. Organizers of some of the larger celebrations, like Scandal’s Block Party, Blow Pony, and other downtown events are well aware of the current potential for threat and are actively planning for safety. If you are out and about, don’t hesitate to ask door and security people for help. If you are attending the Waterfront Festival or Parade and need help or assistance, absolutely ask a Pride Northwest board member, staff, or volunteer for help.

Now, more than ever, we as a community must look out for each other as well as ourselves. If you see something, say something. Alert security, event organizers, or others. Reach out if you don't feel comfortable leaving a space and ask for someone to walk with you. If you are driving, offer to give a ride.

If you see someone else in trouble, call for help. NOTE-it is difficult for us to tell you when to personally step in and when to not. If you choose to intervene in a situation where the potential for harm exists, just know what you are stepping into. If not, more harm may be caused in that situation. Either way, stay aware!

Our hope is that nothing will come from the recent reports. However, we cannot afford to underestimate the potential for threat against our community. Take care of yourselves and each other.

Thank you

Pride Northwest Board of Directors


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