Portland, Ore. – Portland, Oregon, is bracing for what could be another round of violent clashes between a right-wing group and self-described anti-fascist counterprotesters who have pledged to keep Patriot Prayer and other affiliated groups out of this ultra-liberal city.
The Portland Police Bureau said Friday that demonstrators should expect to see a significant police presence including bomb-sniffing dogs and checkpoints where weapon screenings will occur.
“I continue to strongly reject the idea that violence or hate speech are legitimate means to a political end,” Mayor Ted Wheeler said, adding that he and the Portland police chief “have serious concerns about the potential for violence” at the events.
The march, planned for months, has been organized by Joey Gibson, leader of the Patriot Prayer group, and a long-shot Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in the state of Washington.
It comes five weeks after clashes between left and right on June 30 in which both sides, including masked anti-fascist groups, battled in downtown Portland, pummeling and striking each other. Police declared the event a riot and revoked rally permits.
A similar Patriot Prayer event on June 4 devolved into fistfights and assaults by both sides as police struggled to keep the groups apart.
Gibson said in a live video on Facebook earlier this week that he won’t stop bringing his followers to Portland until they can express their right-wing views without interference.
“I refuse to do what Portland wants me to do because what Portland wants me to do is to shut up and never show up again,” he said. “So yeah, I refuse to do that, but I will not stop going in, and I will not stop pushing, and I will not stop marching until the people of Portland realize that and realize that their methods do not work,” he said.
Chris “Badger” Thomas is a Veteran who served our country as an Army Combat Medic.