PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Police Chief Chuck Lovell discussed safety preparations during a press conference Friday afternoon, ahead of a possible protest and counter-protest between far-right extremist groups and antifa in downtown Portland on Aug. 22.
Mayor Wheeler also spoke at a virtual event earlier in the day.
Fliers on social media by a far-right group have called for a gathering on Sunday at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, with posts by antifa groups have indicated a planned response.
Downtown Portland has been the backdrop of violent clashes between the two groups over the past year. Earlier this month, far-right groups fought with protesters after a religious gathering at Waterfront Park led by a controversial pastor. Some people shot paintballs, sprayed mace and launched fireworks, but for the most part police did not intervene and no arrests were made.
Nearly one year ago, on Aug. 29, 2020, hundreds of supporters of former President Trump held a car rally in downtown Portland. Tensions grew between them and a group of counter-protesters, and several people were arrested.
On Friday morning, Mayor Wheeler denounced violence during a virtual event that featured Portland leaders and community organizations.
"Hate and hate groups have no place in our city. Violence has no place in our city. Bigotry has no place in our city. Racism must be etched out of the fabric of our community, our state, and our nation." said Wheeler.
Western State Center Executive Director Eric Ward also called out extremist groups, and called on more leaders and community members to condemn them.
"Portland isn't an island. The demonstrations of white nationalism we'll see on Sunday are part of a broader anti-democratic assault that requires support from the federal government, and a response from all levels of state and local leadership in Oregon." said Ward.
Other speakers included Multnomah County Chair Deborah, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt, and Oregon Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association President Neil Lee.