Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler held a coalition at 10 a.m. on Aug. 14 at Pioneer Courthouse Square to denounce the violence at recent protests between far-right and far-left groups.
The coalition included a large number of organizations, public servants and community leaders with the intention of “denouncing violence of all forms,” according to a press release.
Large and potentially violent demonstrations between multiple groups are expected to take place on Aug. 17 in downtown Portland. Wheeler assembled the coalition in order to announce that anyone planning on committing acts of violence at these demonstrations is not welcome in Portland and that violence will lead to legal consequences.
“To those who promote violence during otherwise peaceful demonstrations, you are not welcome here,” Wheeler said. “To those who perpetrate racism, sexism, bigotry—you are not welcome here. And to any white supremacists who are planning on coming to our community on Aug. 17, you are not welcome here.”
“We stand together as elected leaders, faith leaders, business leaders, civil rights leaders, school leaders, sports leaders, labor leaders, federal leaders and many, many more. United as one, we declare: This is our city. This is our home. We don’t want your violence here.”
Political demonstrations between far-right and far-left groups in Portland have attracted national attention after a conservative journalist Andy Ngo was assaulted by members of the far-left group antifa during a rally on June 29. Mayor Wheeler and the Portland Police Bureau have since been criticized for not doing enough to stop the violence.
Other speakers included Portland City Council Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Jo Ann Hardesty, as well as Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw.
“I want to be clear that I unequivocally support people who stand up against white supremacists, white nationalists and people who are filled with hate,” Hardesty said. “We will not tolerate hate being stewed in the streets of the city of Portland. It’s not acceptable today, tomorrow or any other day. Let’s be clear about that—that is not who we are. We are better than that.”
“I want to speak directly to the white supremacists who are listening and paying attention: This is not your city. You want to be hateful, stay home.”
According to Outlaw, “The members of the Portland Police Bureau have already put hundreds of hours of planning into our response to demonstrations scheduled for Aug. 17. We have met with local, state and federal partners to create a plan to ensure that our community is kept safe.”
Outlaw continued, “We will have the resources we need to manage these events this weekend. Our bureau is doing an amazing job; they are well trained, and they are neutral. They focus on behaviors, not size. We will do everything we can to prevent crimes—especially violent crimes—from happening.”
“I want to reassure our community again that we have their best interests at heart and that we are looking forward to working together to ensure that our city is safe for all.”
The Portland Police Bureau is encouraging Portlanders to avoid being downtown on Aug. 17 if possible, and multiple businesses have canceled events or plan to stay closed due to the planned demonstrations, according to OregonLive.
At least five men affiliated with right-wing groups have been arrested and criminally charged since the coalition met on Aug. 14 for a riot that took place on May 1 outside of Portland bar Cider Riot, according to Willamette Week. One of the men charged was right-wing group Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson.
Since the arrests, multiple right-wing groups have backed out of attending the Aug. 17 rally, including the Oath Keepers—founder Joe Biggs was one of the initial planners of the rally, according to Willamette Week.