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Mayor says planning is underway to prevent a repeat of the street fights that have broken out at competing protests in the past

PMG FILE PHOTO - A previous protest in downtown Portland.

Portland officials are taking seriously a planned protest for Aug. 17 between far-right groups and counter-protesters that could become violent.

A rally against anti-fascists planned for that day is expected to draw far-right groups such as the Proud Boys, Oathkeepers and Three Percenters to Portland.

Rose City Antifa issued a statement asking counter-protesters to defend Portland from a "far-right attack."

"We call on the people of Portland to come out to let the fascists on the streets and in the White House know we will continue to defend our community from the rise of fascism," the statement said.

Police Chief Danielle Outlaw said last week that social media postings indicate some people who plan to attend plan to engage in criminal activity and police are preparing for that possibility.

So far, no group has requested a permit for Waterfront Park for that Saturday.

In a one-on-one interview with KOIN 6 News reporter Lisa Balick, Mayor Ted Wheeler said, very clearly, the response to this planned protest "will be different" than at previous protests.

City officials already have plans in place with regional law enforcement, the Oregon State Police and federal officials. They've been in contact with Orwfo Gov. Kate Brown's office to determine what they can provide.

But his single, clear message is this: Don't come to Portland if you only want to spawn violence.

Here, in the mayor's own words, is what the city is doing to keep the peace on August 17:

"I want to be very clear about this. My directives to the police bureau have been very consistent since I took office. The directives have been followed:

"Number 1, no violence. Number 2, no vandalism. Number 3, make sure the city doesn't get shut down. Number 4, allow people to peacefully exercise their 1st Amendment rights. Number 5, enforce the law.

"So we're all looking towards August 17 as being a potentially big event with a lot of people coming from outside the community, a lot of people are already sharing on social media they intend to come here to commit acts of violence.

"Here is our plan: If people still choose to come here in spite of our request to not come here and commit acts of violence, we'll be ready for them. We'll have the personnel, the resources we need in order to maintain the public's safety, we'll have the partnerships in place — federal, state and local law enforcement partners — we've already been engaged in conversations with the governor's team about what public support from the governor and the state could look like. We've had conversations with the (Multnomah County) District Attorney about how we could potentially handle larger scale arrests, if necessary. And we're also coming together as a community.

"A few days before we're asking the business community, elected leaders, institutional leaders, people of faith and others who are concerned in this community to come and join us and say, 'Hey, look, Portlanders. We're the kind of people who have each others' backs. We support you. We support coming together. We denounce violence in all its forms.'

"If you're coming here to commit acts of violence we do not want you here.

"I give the police bureau broad strategic directives — no violence, no vandalism, enforce the laws, don't let the city be shut down, protect peaceful demonstrations, the 1st Amendment rights of those who come here to demonstrate peacefully — but we will operationalize those strategic directives in the police bureau.

"So, here's what we're saying: First and foremost, we don't care what your politics are but if you're coming to Portland to commit an act of violence — this is true whether you live here or whether you're coming from afar — we do not want you here.

"There are things that will be different on the 17th. The police bureau will have the people, they will have the resources and they will have the tools that they need to get the job done. The partnerships in place to help us achieve those goals and I have great confidence that they will be able to keep the peace on the 17th.

"We had over 200 demonstrations on the streets of the City of Portland last year and only a very small handful led to any kind of violence. Operationally we have said this is a tool that's in the toolkit along with many others. If we see a circumstance where people are getting out of control, people blocking streets, we absolutely have the authority to enforce the permitting requirements.

"Technically (those without a permit are) breaking the law and, again, this is an operational question and I leave it up to the chief and the commander to decide where and when and how to engage with people who are violating the law. But it's my expectation that we will enforce the laws."

KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. You can find their story with video here.


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