To hear the media (hey there, KATU) and Mayor Tom Potter tell it, last Friday night's tape removal party—or, as I've now dubbed it, the Pre-Parade Route Beautification and Equalization of Viewing Opportunity Hoedown™—was the precursor to some kind of Grand Floral apocalypse.
In an interview with KGW outside his third floor city hall office on Friday evening, June 8, Potter expressed support for getting rid of the taping tradition, but said it was a "timing issue." "There's going to be a lot of misunderstandings tomorrow morning," he said. "I don't want the police to have to deal with this issue."
From the police commissioner, those are ominous words—but they also reflect a serious lack of faith in humanity, as if those pre-taped squares of sidewalk were all that was keeping Rose Parade watchers from beating each other into bloody pulps over viewing spots. As if Portlanders are incapable of fairness, kindness, and sharing. As if Portlanders were already borderline criminals.
KATU, for its part, ended its Friday night segment on the anti-taping efforts with the same hand-wringing over the sheer inevitability of violence once people realized their tape was gone.
And yet, despite the predictions of a bloodbath, exactly nothing happened. The tape-removal was peaceful, with only a handful of heated debates over whether the tape-removers were assholes or not, and a large number of supportive bystanders. There were no reports of violence on Saturday morning once the parade started. The Portland Police Bureau's spokesperson, Brian Schmautz, confirmed that no officers were dispatched to a single call related to the clean-up operation.
In the end, the Pre-Parade Route Beautification and Equalization of Viewing Opportunity Hoedown™ was peaceful and opened up miles of sidewalk space for all to enjoy—as long as they showed up early enough to enjoy it—not just those who taped off a space a week before. Sorry, Potter, your one chance to hang a public disorder charge on the Mercury didn't quite pan out.
Now, Commissioner Randy Leonard is moving forward with his proposal to ban the taping practice, with a scheduled vote on Wednesday, June 13, just after we went to press. But, weirdly, it was listed as an "emergency ordinance," which means it would go into effect immediately, and would require a unanimous vote from council. "Emergency" is such a strange adjective to pin on the ordinance—since it'll be another 51 and a half weeks before the issue comes up again.
The real emergency: Leonard wants to take care of it before he leaves for vacation.