PORTLAND, Ore. — The city of Portland is once again bracing for potential clashes as left and right-wing groups plan opposing rallies for Saturday.
Governor Kate Brown held a press conference on Friday morning with Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton and Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell, and Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese — promising a multi-agency effort to keep the peace.
"As we head into the weekend, we are aware that white supremacist groups from out of town, including the Proud Boys, are planning a rally on Saturday in Portland," Brown said. "They are expecting a significant crowd. Some people will be armed, with others ready to harass or intimidate Oregonians. Many are from out of state."
Superintendent Hampton indicated that state troopers would be working in concert with Multnomah County Sheriff's deputies and Portland Police officers to respond in the event of violence at any of the rallies, or if opposing groups attempt to clash.
Hampton later said that he would not rule out the use of CS gas, which Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler recently banned in the city. Both OSP and the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office had previously indicated that they would not respond to requests for direct aid in Portland with that ban in place.
Though the City of Portland denied a permit for the Proud Boys rally at Delta Park on Saturday, officials seem certain that they will appear nonetheless.
The Proud Boys, a so-called "Western chauvinist" group, have been a frequent fixture at rallies in Portland, often accompanying events planned by the right-wing group Patriot Prayer — and often dissolving into sparring matches with left-wing opponents.
Portland has been the site of near-nightly protests for months, often followed by vandalism and violence between rioters and police. The recent grand jury decision in the killing of Breonna Taylor out of Louisville, Kentucky on Wednesday has reignited those demonstrations ahead of Saturday's anticipated Proud Boys rally.
A pro-Trump rally at the end of August ended with a Patriot Prayer supporter, Aaron Danielson, shot to death in the street by a self-described "Antifa" proponent. The suspected shooter, Michael Reinhohl, died in a hail of bullets near Tacoma, Washington days later when a U.S. Marshals task force reportedly moved to take him into custody.
At the press conference on Friday, Brown and law enforcement officials underlined that they would honor rally-goers First Amendment rights to speech and assembly, but urged participants to stay peaceful.
"The Superintendent and the Sheriff will work closely with the Portland Police Chief to keep people safe this weekend," Brown said. “When free expression is fueled by hate, and coupled with an intention to incite violence, then I need to do everything I can as Governor to ensure the public safety of Oregonians. We will not tolerate that violence and tragedy this weekend. Violence is never the answer. Violence never brings anyone over to your side. Instead, violence only deepens divisions.”