The Hollywood branch library in Northeast Portland will close for normal operations on Sunday, as a scheduled event at the branch has been generating controversy. According to a Multnomah County Library statement, the branch is pausing normal operations on Sunday, “in the interest of the safety and security of library patrons and staff.”
The decision comes in response to a planned event at the Hollywood branch organized by a group called Women’s Declaration International USA, which describes itself as “a feminist group created by women, for women,” dedicated to re-affirming what the group calls “the sex-based rights of women and girls.”
The WDI USA has drawn criticism from other groups who characterize its stance as transphobic, and have described WDI USA as “TERF,” an acronym that stands for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist.”
According to a post on the WDI USA website, the noon event at the Hollywood branch library has been planned as “a peaceful speaking event,” with a theme of “protecting women and children.”
But the Portland appearance has drawn objections, with some posts on social media calling for protests.
The Multnomah County Library statement says that the WDI USA event will continue on Sunday, and that any member of the public is welcome, up to the maximum room capacity of 42 attendees.
Libraries across the country and in the Portland metro area have recently become sites of political battles that have, at times, drawn protests and counterprotests. In June, for example, the Tigard Public Library canceled a “Drag Queen Storytime” event — which would have featured Poison Waters reading stories spotlighting diversity — after what police called “repeated threats of violence.”
“Multnomah County Library resists censorship in all forms,” the statement says. “It is the responsibility of library staff and leadership to provide free use of our locations to all patrons of the library. As an organization that adheres to free expression as defined by the Library Bill of Rights, Multnomah County Library does not discriminate against any organization, regardless of viewpoint. Our primary goal is to provide a safe place for freedom of expression and speech.”
The statement also says that the “library is coordinating with law enforcement, and security partners for onsite support during the day.”
The Multnomah County Library statement also says, that while the library “does not exclude any organization from using our meeting rooms resources, we have a deep commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion which is evidenced by our programming, collections, and partnerships.”
The Hollywood branch will open for normal operations on Monday.
— Kristi Turnquist
503-221-8227; email@example.com; @Kristiturnquist
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