Washington, Aug 18 (IANS) The city of Portland, Oregon, remained under strong police guard after far-right and left-wing extremist groups announced mobilizations that could lead to violent confrontations.
To the news that some individuals and groups planned demonstrations Saturday in downtown Portland, and even said they looked forward to violent clashes, Police Chief Danielle Outlaw on Saturday said, “We don’t condone this. It’s not welcome,” Efe news reported.
Portland, considered one of the most progressive cities in the United States, and which was the scene in 2016 of some of the most massive protests against the election of President Donald Trump, had demonstrations of this kind in August last year that were calm from start to finish.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler posted on Twitter “a message to anyone who plans on using Portland on August 17th to commit violence and spread hate: We. Don’t. Want. You. Here. Stop using our beautiful city and our home to spread fear and disrupt our lives.”
To avoid possible disturbances, police ordered certain downtown streets blocked, where members of the radical rightist Proud Boys group is expected to gather, as is the leftist antifascist Antifa group.
To the degree that demonstrators began gathering at different points around Portland, police reported the seizure of such “arms” as shields, metal and wooden bars – some used as flagpoles – and bear spray.
Trump weighed in on his Twitter account about the protests and wrote that “Portland is being watched very closely.”
“Hopefully the Mayor will be able to properly do his job!” Trump said, adding that “major consideration is being given to naming ANTIFA an “ORGANIZATION OF TERROR.”
Last July 6, protests called by far-right groups and antifascists in Washington ended without incident amid a powerful police operation.
In August 2017, a neo-Nazi rammed his vehicle through a crowd during protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, an act of violence that took the life of a 32-year-old woman, Heather Heyer, and left scores injured.
James Alex Fields Jr., 22, a native of Ohio, was sentenced last June to life imprisonment for committing that crime in Charlottesville, where on Aug 11-12, 2017, protests were called against the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, a general of the Confederacy of slave states in the US Civil War.
That protest was countered by an antifascist march asking neo-Nazis to leave Charlottesville.