They'll be fighting colonialism on the streets of North Williams Avenue today.
Or at the very least, up to 75 activists will stage a protest of a brand-new "British Colonial" themed cafe called Saffron Colonial, which serves pastries and sausage rolls and Ristretto and a drink called the "Tortolan Plantation Press".
The march will be called "Stop Romanticizing Colonialism!"
"We will NOT accept the glorification of colonialism in our community, particularly in a neighborhood that has a painful legacy of black & brown folks being displaced," reads the Facebook event page for the protest.
Organized by activist Stephanie Dunx, the protest was scheduled to meet at In Other Words bookstore on North Killingsworth at 2 pm today. From the bookstore, says the event page, a march is planned down North Williams Avenue to Saffron's location for a 2:30 pm protest at the restaurant, where Dunx will present Saffron with an open letter with demands..
Saffron Colonial was first written up on food blog Eater, with a post detailing Saffron owner Sally Krantz's French culinary training and vast collection of Sri Lankan furniture.
Willamette Week and others then questioned the wisdom of romanticizing Great Britain's deeply troubling colonial past, especially in a neighborhood that has been experiencing dramatic rent increases and gentrification in recent years.
Today's protesters are asking that Saffron change its name, and stop serving plantation-themed drinks.
Sedaghat told the protesters, "what I think is you and the 23 other people going need to get a job and quit trying to troll local businesses."
He wrote in another post that he welcomed the protest and that Krant "wouldn't care," saying the news trucks will increase sales for the fledgeling cafe.
"You're the minority in this situation," he wrote. "Most people think you are crazy and a rebel without a cause."
Krantz was a bit more measured in her responses to criticism. She told WW March 17 that she isn't a racist and she doesn't understand the backlash.
"I'm not trying to incense anybody," she told WW. "I'm just trying to make food."
Here's the first section of the open letter organizers plan to deliver to Saffron today:
I'm not here to slander you. I'm not even interested in shaming you. I came here to start a conversation. Contrary to what your chef thinks, I (and presumably many of the people who share my feelings) are not interested in outrage for outrage's sake. So I'm coming to you in hopes of having a meaningful dialogue.
We all have our flaws, and one of my own is that I find it hard to assume positive intent. I'm trying to get better about that, so I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt. After all, it's been 25 years since you've lived here and a lot has changed. And Hong Kong is a very different place from Portland.
I get that Hong Kong's understanding of British Colonial rule differs from that of places like India or Jamaica (where my parents are from). In one Facebook group someone mentioned that the people of HK view British Colonialism as benign compared to mainland Chinese rule, which makes sense considering Hong Konger's beliefs about the Chinese.
But here in the US, where many of us are direct descendants of people harmed by British imperialism, we have a very different perspective. While molasses cookies and sausage rolls may come to mind for you when you think of British colonialism, many of us associate it with forced religious conversion/cultural erasure, famine:
For just one moment, I ask you to not only maintain an open mind, but an open heart. Try to understand what it might be like to walk in our shoes and I'll try to understand where you're coming from. Your chef proudly proclaimed on our event page that "All Lives Matter!" If that's truly the case, then why doesn't our pain matter to you?