PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Organizers of a popular multicultural art, music and food festival got a letter full of hate and threatening a “bloodbath” if the event goes on.
The 25th annual Good in the Hood festival is due to start on June 23 and president Shawn Penney said the threatening letter won’t stop that.
“This is still our neighborhood, it’s still the people’s neighborhood,” Penney said. “We’re not going to cancel it because if we cancel it, they win.”
Penney said he knew the letter wasn’t going to be good just from the outside — the envelope features an image of Ku Klux Klan members.
Inside, threats to the event, black people and Penney himself are called “freedom of speech” by the writer, who identifies as a “white power-Trump supporter.”
Portland police have assigned bias crimes detectives to the case, with help from the local FBI.
“We’re taking this very seriously,” Sgt. Pete Simpson said. “Part of our assessment here is to figure out the credibility of that threat. It is alarming, we’re disheartened to see things like this happen.”
The festival in Northeast Portland is hosted by Good in the Hood, a non-profit organization focused on engaging communities with music, food and resources. The event starts on June 23 with a community parade through NE Portland and ends at Lillis-Albina Park.
“This year is going to be a great event,” Penney said. “That letter isn’t going to scare us. We aren’t going to run away from it.”
In a statement Friday afternoon, Mayor Ted Wheeler said:
“Our city, just two weeks removed from a national tragedy, has experienced a number of incidents this week clearly motivated by hate. Threats to the Good in the Hood festival in the heart of Albina, targeting communities of color, particularly black Portlanders. Reports today of racist language directed at a middle school child.
“This is unconscionable.
“The troubling fact is that these incidents are part of an historic and troubling pattern in Portland and across our state. In the days following last year’s election, the Southern Policy (sic) Law Center counted more hate incidents in Oregon than other state in America.
“We are in communication with local school districts, the Governor’s office, and are actively working with local, state, and federal law enforcement. We are doing all we can to investigate these recent incidents and protect our residents who are living under threat. If you have any information that could assist investigators, please contact the Portland Police Bureau.
“These times can be terrifying… I’ve spoken to many people who are scared. We have a tremendous opportunity to come together to ensure that everyone is welcome in our city, and we all live in safety and with dignity.
“Please, let’s continue to stand up for one another.”