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Good in the Hood diversity festival receives death threats from white supremacist in letter
(Warning, this article contains some graphic language.)
The Good in the Hood festival, an annual festival in the Elliot Neighborhood at Lillis-Albina Park that celebrates diversity, has been directly threatened by an unnamed white supremacist in a letter.
An anonymous physical letter was received in the mail on Wednesday to the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods (NECN), one of the seven neighborhood coalitions that make up the city of Portland, according to Adam Lyons, the coalition's executive director.
The organization oversees 12 inner North and Northeast neighborhoods and its physical office houses the all-volunteer group that organizes Good in the Hood each year.
The letter is typed, and in all caps and many spelling errors, it starts "TO ALL N***ER LOVERS AND N***ERS! OUR PRESIDENT TRUMT HAS ISSUED AN EXECUTIVE ORDER TO KILL ALL NEGGERS!!!!"
Then, it directly threatens Good in the Hood, its organizer, Shawn Penny, and his family.
It goes on to say "THIS IS MY FREEDOM OF SPEECH! WE THE WHITE KKK NOW OWN THE NORTH AND NORTHEAST PORTLAND" and says that the festival won't happen "unless you want to see a blood bath."
It is "signed" with no name, only "WHITE POWER-TRUMP SUPPORTER — FREEDOM OF SPEECH."
Portland Police are investigating along with federal law enforcement partners, according to Sgt. Pete Simpson, Portland Police spokesman.
"The Portland Police Bureau is aware of threats sent to the Good in the Hood community organization and is conducting an investigation. At this time, we are unable to confirm the nature of the threats or determine their credibility," he said.
Lyons said the NECN office is on lock down until it's figured out. While there are only a few actual staff members of the coalition, their building lends space to five or six different community organizations, including Good in the Hood, Lyons said.
"We've asked our partners and our staff for their own sense of safety not to come into office until further notice," Lyons said. They're working remotely.
Good in the Hood, scheduled to take place June 23-25 in its 25th year, will go on as planned despite threats, according to Penny.
"I hope our community can come together and that we don't just be judged by the color of our skin. Our festival will go on. We welcome all nations to our festival," he said.
"I hope we can have a peaceful ending with this. I feel that my life was threatened, not just mine, but my family's and the North and Northeast community."
The Good in the Hood Music and Food festival boasts the largest multi-cultural festival in the Pacific Northwest, according to its website. The three-day festival opens with a community parade, travels through Northeast Portland, ending at Lillis-Albina Park.
The threats come at a particularly tense time in Portland, where there's been an increase in hate speech in the community.
On May 26, an alleged white supremacist slashed the throats of three people, killing two, on a MAX train who were defending two young girls who became the targets for his racist ranting.
"We're not going to be intimidated by hateful speech," said Lyons. "We're going to keep being a positive part of the community and support Good in the Hood, and our community in general. No one is going to scare us away from doing that."
He added that he thinks white supremacy has just been a dormant problem in Portland.
"We just convinced ourselves it doesn't exist, because we think we're a very liberal city. It reminds me of the 1980s," Lyons said. "It reminds me of how I felt in Portland as a kid with the skinheads … I think it's always been here, but is now emboldened by our president."
Police look for more information