PORTLAND, Ore. – The annual 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade in East Portland has been canceled.
The parade, which is the first sanctioned event of the Rose Festival season, was scheduled for Saturday, April 29. Organizers said the event was canceled "following threats of violence during the parade by multiple groups."
The Multnomah County Republican Party (MCRP), whose members were going to march in the parade, said threats were made against their group.
According to the Oregon GOP, organizers of the parade received an email saying that a group would take their own initiative to make sure the MCRP didn't march in the parade if organizers let them participate.
“We will have two hundred or more people rush into the parade into the middle and drag and push those people out as we will not give one inch to groups who espouse hatred toward LGBT, immigrants, people of color or others,” the email reads in part.
The email, which the Oregon GOP posted on its website, further reads, “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.”
James Buchal, chairman of the MCRP, said the election of President Donald Trump has caused a "significant portion of the population to become unhinged."
"I would say wake up, get in the real world. We're a political party, are you really so stupid that you think we're going to attract new members by marching with a bunch of nazis carrying swastikas? What are you, nuts? Get in the real world," Buchal said.
The sender of the email cites two organized Facebook events to show the seriousness of their demands. One of the Facebook events is associated with Direct Action Alliance, a group "organized in response to the rise of fascism in America."
Jacob Bureros of Direct Action Alliance emailed a statement to KGW about the cancellation.
"We are disappointed that the Avenue of Roses Parade has been cancelled. As members of this community, we prize our neighborhood events and support events that promote community. Known members of neo-nazi and anti immigrant hate groups planned to attend the group that was being hosted by the Multnomah County Republicans at the parade. We intended to stand between them and those who they wanted to intimidate. We intended to block out their hate and shut down their violence."
On Wednesday, Bureros issued another statement denying a link between Direct Action Alliance and the email.
"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."
A statement from the Oregon GOP, on behalf of the MCRP, says the group has participated in the parade for many years “and calls upon the Mayor, the Police Chief, and the District Attorney to take action against this criminal conspiracy to commit crimes of riot and disorderly conduct in violation of Oregon law."
Portland police told KGW they were aware of the threats and were prepared to handle any disruptions.
"We were aware of threats to disrupt the Avenue of Roses Parade on Saturday and were prepared to provide a police response appropriate to the needs of the event, which has traditionally been a family-friendly affair," said Sgt. Pete Simpson with Portland police.
A spokesman for the Rose Festival, which sanctions the parade, said he is disappointed the parade was canceled.
"We’re saddened by this turn so of events. With this political climate, the collateral damage is community events are being threatened. This is a nice community event. For political parties to use it as a playground is a very sad situation," said Rich Jarvis.
The parade, which intends to promote the diverse community of East Portland, was scheduled along 82nd Avenue from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday.
"We are deeply disappointed that the agendas of these outside groups have so regrettably impacted East Portland and the 82nd Avenue community," parade organizers said in an emailed statement.