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March for racial justice in Rogue River partially canceled

After being targeted with threats, part of a racism awareness event in the town of Rogue River has been canceled, while another part will take place.

The Southern Oregon Coalition for Racial Equity plans to have a gathering at 10 a.m. Saturday outside Rogue River City Hall, 133 Broadway St. People are invited to speak about their experiences with racism.

A cookout and opportunity to speak has been canceled at the Evans Valley Community Center.

The Evans Valley Community Association announced in a press release Friday night it had decided not to let the Southern Oregon Coalition for Racial Equity use the community center.

“Due to overwhelming community concerns for safety, recent past history of events like these in other areas proving to be problematic for surrounding communities where they are held and the possibility of an escalating and possibly dangerous environment, the community association board (made) a choice that is best for the community they serve,” the association said in a statement.

The association said it values everyone who lives in the communities of Rogue River and Wimer, as well as participants at events that strive to bring enlightenment to society. The association said it is dedicated to being a good steward of the community center.

“To ensure the safety of everyone, it was decided to cancel the event entirely,” the association said.

Some social media comments about the event have said participants were coming to the small town of Rogue River to riot, burn and steal. Others said they would be across the street from protesters to monitor their actions and didn’t intend to act violently, but they wouldn’t “take any crap.” Some posts encouraged people to run over protesters.

But other commentators said kids who’ve experienced racism deserve to be heard and supported, and they are brave for sharing their stories.

Kayla Wade, founder and president of the Southern Oregon Coalition for Racial Equity, said event participants will meet at 10 a.m. near Rogue River City Hall. She said counterprotesters have indicated they intend to gather and try to drown out speakers at the “You ARE Enough” racism awareness event.

“These acts of intimidation are being taken seriously and only further stresses the importance of holding events like this in Southern Oregon communities,” she said.

Wade said organizers are planning a peaceful event and trained de-escalators will be at the rally by Rogue River City Hall.

The event has had several location and time changes as the Southern Oregon Coalition for Racial Equity looked for a place to gather.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.