The 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade has marched down Portland streets for the past 11 years to launch the city’s annual Rose Festival (which takes place on Saturday). The parade, which features floats and presenters from all over the culturally diverse city, has been canceled this year following threats of violence by leftist radicals from the surging “Antifa” movement.
The so-called anti-fascists threatened to wreak havoc on the parade unless the event’s organizers disinvited the Multnomah County Republican Party, who were set to march in the parade’s 67th spot this year.
Speaking to The Oregonian, parade organizers say they received an ominous email instructing them to cancel the Republican group’s attendance or face the consequences.
“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,” read the anonymous email. “This is non-negotiable.”
“We will not give one inch to groups who espouse hatred toward LGBT, immigrants, people of color or others,” it continued.
The email explicitly mentioned that at least 200 protesters were ready to “rush into the parade into the middle and drag and push [the Republican marchers] out.”
The Rose Festival Foundation says it has no plans to reverse its decision to cancel the parade to protect the safety of its “fans” after Portland police were unable to pledge additional protection for the event.
“It’s all about safety for our fans, first and foremost. If we can’t provide safety for our fans, there’s no use in trying,” said a spokesman for the foundation. “Our official position is we’re extremely sad about this.”
The author of the letter did not mention his affiliation to any particular group, but linked to two Facebook event pages inviting leftist demonstrators to participate in counter-protests to disrupt the Rose Festival parade.
The Antifa groups involved in the event’s disruption include Oregon Students Empowered and Direct Action Alliance, which had scheduled organized protests during the parade. However, the groups disavowed the ominous email sent to The Oregonian, and said they had nothing to do with it.
Jacob Bureros, an organizer for Direction Action Alliance, said that his group intended to speak out against white supremacy and fascism during the parade. He described it as an “awesome parade,” and expressed sadness at its cancellation.
Perhaps his group should’ve thought of that before staging disruptions against it for having the audacity to invite people who don’t share their radical ideology.