A group of southwest Washington-based social and racial justice activists cancelled a rally the group had planned for Aug. 11 to demand "accountability in the wake of Proud Boys attack" on a teenager at a Vancouver mall.
They are also walking back statements the group made in a press release announcing the event and calling on local Vancouver businesses to push back against "ongoing violent and racist activity" in the city.
The activists say the event is no longer a safe place to bring families after right-wing protesters threatened to show up. They also fear that the event, designed to support people of color, could be misinterpreted as the kind of protest Portland has seen in recent months: a flimsy excuse for a brawl.
Southwest Washington Communities United for Change planned the rally in response to an attack at the Vancouver Mall. Prominent Patriot Prayer organizer and Proud Boy Tusitala "Tiny" Toese allegedly attacked a black teenager at the mall with other Proud Boys. The mall security guard mistakenly detained the boy and police arrested the teenager when they showed up. But video footage later led to the Clark County prosecutor dropping charges against the boy.
As Oregon Public Broadcasting reported, the activists cancelled the event after a news story about the rally was peppered with negative comments on social media, including some right-wing protesters who hinted they would disrupt the event.
The rally organizers now say they did not intend to call out Patriot Prayer or the Proud Boys specifically, although the activists named both groups in the release announcing their event.
"We are hopeful that you understand that our goal was never intended to call out neither ANTIFAH or Proud Boys/Patriot Prayer/Joey Gibson, etc. into an altercation or to directly challenge either group at the mall," the group's spokeswoman Ophelia Noble said in a statement emailed to WW.
Noble said the event would be rescheduled for another day and time when the risk of violence had subsided.
In their original press release, Southwest Washington Communities United for Change endorsed the actions of Fred Meyer employees who forced a group of Patriot Prayer supporters out of the store's parking lot, and asked local businesses to take action against the far-right agitators.
"Rally organizers are calling on the Vancouver Mall and other local businesses to publicly denounce white nationalism and the far-right paramilitary group, the Proud Boys," the press release said. "On August 4th, the private business where the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer gathered to shuttle members to their Portland rally ejected them. Southwest Washington Communities United for Change organizers say that's the kind of strong statement we need."