A rally in Gabriel Park and the Multnomah Center on Saturday to protest a skinhead group’s plan to distribute racist flyers in the surrounding neighborhood was considered a success by protesters. The skinhead group, the Tualatin Valley Skins, never showed up.
The group announced last week that they planned to hold a "flyer outreach contest," distributing racist flyers to the nearby Hayhurst, Multnomah and Maplewood neighborhoods. A flurry of community organizing against the group quickly erupted after the announcement, as well as an anti-hate resolution passed by Portland’s city council.
Over 500 demonstrators arrived in the park Saturday morning to voice their opposition to the skinheads’ racist views.
Jordana Sardo, Portland organizer of the Freedom Socialist Party, was part of the ad-hoc coalition that organized the rally. Sardo said they had a week and a half to organize the rally. Thirty organizations endorsed the event, including Portland State University’s Green Party, Progressive Student Union, Students for Unity and the Women’s Resource Center.
According to Portland police spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz, the only disruption relating to the rally was a traffic stop. The driver claimed to be going to the rally but was arrested for failing to display a license. The two other occupants walked back to the community center by Gabriel Park and shouted, "White power."
Schmautz said that no one in that incident or during the rally identified themselves as a member of the Tualatin Valley Skins.
"The Tualatin Valley Skins have no history in Portland," he said, "I have no knowledge about them or of any violence."
Jimmy Brown, director of the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, drafted the resolution that was passed last Wednesday by the city council to "promote racial justice and denounce acts of hate in the city of Portland."
He said the resolution came forward to the council as a result of the activity the Tualatin Valley Skins were planning for Saturday, Jan. 8, but expressed some doubt concerning whether the resolution would impact this particular group. He said the resolution was created to demonstrate how the city feels about this issue.
"With this kind of action we don’t want to see people believing we support that type of action…now the City Council can say, ‘these are the values we support in this community," said Brown.