Thirteen people were arrested and six people were injured, with one requiring hospitalization, after a day of protests in Portland Saturday. The Portland Police Bureau, several other local and national law enforcement agencies, and civic organizations and leaders throughout the city had spent weeks preparing for much worse. It was their stated mission to protect members of the right-wing group, Proud Boys, and left-wing Antifa protesters, from each other by keeping them separate. For the most part, they succeeded. However, the Proud Boys have already warned they’ll be back.
A cursory glance at the extended weather forecast— and the local news— suggest that Portlanders might be advised to spend this weekend somewhere calm, like the Oregon coast. Or, for that matter, perhaps Syria. To be sure, there are plenty of events happening in and around the city. The Portland Police want you to know that. The main event, of course, is an expected right-wing rally, and left-wing counter-protest, at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. To those expected to attend, including many from out of town (or out of state), Portland’s political and business leaders had a simple message: stay home.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler did a lot of talking on Monday, but didn’t end up saying very much in his first press conference following an overseas vacation. He said the dueling protests between far-left and far-right demonstrators, which frequently devolve in to violent street brawls, are a black mark against Portland’s reputation, yet offered no ideas on how to repair it. He said he plans to discuss ways to better control future protests, yet offered no ideas of his own. He offered no timetable for any solutions or ideas he might have alluded to, yet the city’s next outdoor MMA fight is scheduled for next Saturday. While Wheeler has withstood a barrage of criticism, much of it from the out-of-state right, his battle for re-election was joined this week from the left.
Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw has had enough. In a news conference Wednesday, Outlaw called for “a better way” to address dueling protest groups in the city, and to give police more legal tools to combat and prevent the violence that frequently accompanies these events. Just one day after Communal News called for it, Outlaw asked for new laws that would ban the wearing of masks by demonstrators in the commission of crimes and permit the continual recording of protests. The legal director of the ACLU of Oregon responded, “we have a lot of concerns.”