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'We don't want you to come here': Mayor, police chief, civic leaders send message ahead of far-right rally

In a series of press conferences Friday, local leaders asked Portlanders to "choose love" ahead of an anticipated rally downtown Sunday.

PORTLAND, Ore. — In a series of press conferences Friday, police, politicians and civic leaders asked Portlanders to "choose love" this weekend, ahead of an anticipated rally downtown. 

Officials confirmed Friday that far-right groups, including the Proud Boys, are planning a rally near Waterfront Park Sunday afternoon.

It's exactly the kind of rally that, in the past, has drawn counter-protesters and sparked violent clashes. The most recent example happened earlier this month. People were caught on camera carrying rifles and fighting. In the moment, there was little to no police intervention.

Friday, officials pulled back the curtain on some details of their strategy for this weekend.

“The police are developing an appropriate plan with adequate resources,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler.

“All available personnel will report for duty,” said Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell.

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Chief Lovell added he’s calling in backup officers from surrounding law enforcement agencies, though he wouldn’t say which ones. At this point, he said, PPB is not asking Governor Kate Brown to deploy the National Guard. He added if violence does break out, it’s not always safe for officers to intervene.

“It's not necessarily the best tactical approach to have officers wading into situations where groups are clashing with each other,” he said. When pressed, the chief declined to say exactly when officers would intervene, adding people are often arrested after demonstrations like these.

Mayor Wheeler said the city is committed to upholding every person's right to free speech, but said violence and destruction of property will be prosecuted. Whether they'll be prevented remains to be seen.

“If you're somebody coming from out of our community for the purpose of spreading hate vitriol or causing fear, we don't want you to come here,” Mayor Wheeler said.

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