Organizers cancel Portland parade over threats to Republican Party, Rose Festival on track

Signs for the 82nd Avenue of the Roses Parade and Carnival coming down on Wednesday - KATU photo

PORTLAND, Ore. – The annual 82nd Avenue of the Roses parade typically kicks off Portland’s parade season, however this year it was called off amid threats of a clash between protesters and marchers with the Republican Party.

The threatening email surfaced over the weekend, and singled out members of the Multnomah County Republican Party (MCRP) who were planning to take part in the parade. Several members of the community, including Portland commissioners and protest groups, have since spoken out against the threats of violence.

The email, sent from "," said they planned to have “two hundred or more people rush into the parade into the middle and drag and push them out.”

While the author of the email did not specify any affiliation to a particular group, they did include links to two different Facebook events of counter-protests; one by Direct Action Alliance and the other from Oregon Students Empowered.

The Portland Rose Festival Foundation said the parade organizers at Venture Portland were left with few options but to cancel the 82nd Avenue of the Roses.

MCRP chair James Buchal said that Venture Portland asked them to withdraw from the parade, an event they’ve participated in for several years.

Buchal declined the offer and instead called on Portland Police Chief Mike Marshman, Multnomah County DA Rod Underhill, and Mayor Ted Wheeler to provide security. (Read his statement below)

Rich Jarvis, a spokesperson for the Rose Festival Foundation, says organizers could not legally un-invite the MCRP to the parade because they were already approved. He added that Venture Portland canceled the event out of an abundance of caution, considering the potential safety impacts to all attendees at the parade.

“You can't really prevent it. You can be aware, you can be ready, anticipate, but if somebody's going to do something to interrupt or to attack - if you want to use that word - you can't really be in position to prevent it,” said Jarvis.

Now that the parade is canceled, community members are encouraging people to support businesses along SE 82nd Avenue on Saturday.

"This parade is away for east Portland to be proud of their community, from Lents to Montavilla to Mount Tabor and everywhere in between," Royal Rosarian Adam Baker said. "People who were going to come to the parade, come out and have lunch on 82nd, buy services or go to shops and just support the community."

Officials with the Rose Festival Foundation said their three most popular parades - the Starlight Parade, the Junior Parade and the Grand Floral Parade scheduled on June 3, 7, and 10, respectively - are still "business as usual."

Below are statements on the cancellation of the 11th annual 82nd Avenue of the Roses parade:

Initial statement from the Multnomah County Republican Party, along with the email:

Statement from the Rose Festival Foundation:

The Portland Rose Festival has inspired the public to gather and celebrate against a backdrop of historic external forces for the past 110 years. This year's Rose Festival will be another brilliant example of how a community can both honor diversity and celebrate unity.

The organizers of one of the Rose Festival's partner events--the 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade--recently decided to cancel their event in the interest of public safety. The Portland Rose Festival Foundation respects this decision but has no intention of following suit. As always, the Rose Festival will work closely with City leaders, Portland Police and other public agencies to ensure the comfort and safety of festival-goers and participants.

Traditional Rose Festival events begin Memorial Day weekend, with CityFair in downtown Portland and Fleet Week June 7-11. Rose Festival's three popular parades--the Starlight Parade, the Junior Parade and the Grand Floral Parade--will take place on Saturday, June 3; Wednesday, June 7; and Saturday, June 10, respectively. The parade lineups are filled with entries that will delight and inspire festival-goers.

The Portland Rose Festival Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that serves families and individuals with programs and events that promote the arts, education and volunteerism. We value environmental responsibility, diversity, patriotism and our historic & floral heritage.

Statement from Direct Action Alliance:

We condemn the erroneous reporting by mainstream news media outlets that link our organization to the letter that is being cited as the cause for the cancellation of this parade. It has resulted in countless amounts of death threats and intimidation directed at me and my family.

Direct Action Alliance and those affiliated with this group did not publish, produce or distribute the letter in question.

We are members of this community and like the Republican Party, our members have participated in past parades without incident.

It is unfortunate that some people choose to blame our organization for the cancellation of this event.

Unfortunately, the Trump regime has emboldened fringe and neo-nazi elements who did not traditionally march amongst the Republican contingent but who are now welcomed into the the ranks. Unfortunately, the "authorities" within the Republican party have decided to provide a safe-space for this kind of hate and discrimination.

This could have been resolved if any other "authority" (either within the republican party, the parade organizers, or the city) had stepped in to prevent known neo-nazis from politicizing the event and intimidating the local community, one of the most diverse in Portland.

We are disappointed that the Multnomah Republicans planned to allow a neo-nazi hate group march in their event, through the very community that said hate group has previously terrorized.

We are saddened that the organizers felt that they had to cancel the event because the Republican party refused to separate themselves from these violent neo-nazis.

We will continue be a voice for non-violent resistance and we will always defend our community.

Follow-up statement from the MCRP:

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.”

“Most Portlanders think we are long past any reasonable tolerance of this behavior, and the Multnomah County Republicans stand with them to demand that:

  • Those making criminal threats face full consequences under the law for their terroristic threats and actions;
  • The City’s law enforcement authorities conduct a full investigation and a transparent accounting to the public of what is being done to prevent problems like this in the future;
  • Local and national media give these groups strict scrutiny and stop making excuses for the instigators of these problems; and
  • The City’s leaders make new policy that puts the safety and freedom of innocent citizens ahead of license to violent protesters.

We urge the Portland Police to provide adequate protection for attendees and participants so the Parade and Carnival can be reinstated and proceed as originally planned by the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association.

“The bottom line is that Portland needs to choose between supporting terrorist thugs and protecting average citizens who want to participate in their community," said Multnomah Republican Party Chair James Buchal. “The Multnomah County Republican Party is not composed of ‘Nazis’ and ‘white supremacists’,” said Buchal, “and those who think we would tolerate marching in a parade with folks carrying swastikas are delusional.”

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