The five-person elected Multnomah County Board of Commissioners released a statement denouncing a looming right-wing gathering as a "distraction" ahead of the rally.
The western chauvinist Proud Boys are set to gather beginning at noon at Portland's Delta Park on Saturday, Sept. 26 — with a counter-rally involving left-wing activists known as antifa planned at another park three miles away.
But the Multnomah County commissioners have another message: "Stay home. Multnomah County has no patience for these distractions."
"Racism is not welcome here. Hate and division are not welcome here. Violence is not welcome here," reads the statement signed by County Chair Deborah Kafoury and Commissioners Sharon Meieran, Susheela Jayapal, Jessica Vega Pederson and Lori Stegmann.
Delta Park was created after the city of Vanport, once home to much of Oregon's Black population, was destroyed by flooding in 1948, a choice of venue the board called "particularly appalling."
"These groups also continue to demonize those who offer a multicultural perspective of history," according to the statement. "It is not unpatriotic or un-American to have a just and equitable vision for our future. These types of divisive and provocative tactics are as old as Joseph McCarthy, George Wallace, and Richard Nixon and our community deserves better."
Multnomah County officials believe people from around the country are likely to travel to Portland for the Proud Boys event. The statement does not mention the left-wing groups that also are planning to gather on Saturday.
Read the full statement below
As widely reported, a number of far-right groups are planning to converge on Delta Park this Saturday, September 26. These groups continue to use Portland and Multnomah County as a focal point for their combative and racist organizing. The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners has said this before, and we will say it again: Racism is not welcome here. Hate and division are not welcome here. Violence is not welcome here.
It is particularly appalling that they have chosen the historic site of Vanport City, which was home to a significant portion of Portland's Black population, as the site for this weekend's rally. These groups also continue to demonize those who offer a multicultural perspective of history. It is not unpatriotic or un-American to have a just and equitable vision for our future. These types of divisive and provocative tactics are as old as Joseph McCarthy, George Wallace and Richard Nixon, and our community deserves better.
Reports also indicate people from around the country are likely to join. And we have a simple message to those who intend on traveling to Oregon to pick a fight:
Stay home. Multnomah County has no patience for these distractions.
The far right's rhetoric and intimidation with the flashing of firearms divert attention from the real issues our community is facing: deep-seated institutional racism and sexism, over-policing, and a broken system of criminal justice. Addressing these issues requires us to confront where we fall short, so we can build a better future. That work deserves our full energy and attention, undeterred by those afraid of what it means to live up to our ideals.
The work that needs to happen has begun among community members, elected officials, and civic leaders. We may not always agree on how to best achieve our goals, but we all see the promise of what we can be, together, as a community. So we urge our community not to engage with these outside agitators. Let's not give them the platform they seek, nor the credence to be a distraction from the work ahead of us. Let's come together and work toward our shared mission of real transformation.
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