Two groups, one composed of people who describe themselves as patriots, the other made up largely of members of the so-called anti-fascist Antifa network, are planning to descend on a waterfront park on the anniversary of a huge brawl between some of the same individuals.
The groups plan to confront each other, Portland police officials say.
Officials are advising people to stay away from the city if they plan to instigate fights, but have also said that officers won’t prevent the looming clash.
“This is our main message: if you are planning to come down to instigate fights with those you disagree with, don’t come,” Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said in a statement. “You should not expect to see police officers standing in the middle of the crowd trying to keep people apart. People should keep themselves apart and avoid physical confrontation.”
If people carry out crimes, they risk arrest and prosecution.
“If there are those who engage in nonpeaceful behavior, we want you to know and understand that the city, the Police Bureau will respond to the situation to the very best of our ability given the current legal and logistical constraints,” Portland Mayor and Police Commissioner Ted Wheeler, a Democrat, told a conference call on Friday.
On Aug. 22, 2020, pro-police demonstrators, including members of the all-male Proud Boys fraternity, clashed with members of the far-left, anarcho-communist Antifa network as police stood by.
Law enforcement could not intervene because there were not enough officers present, officials said at the time.
A self-described Antifa member killed a man in Portland a week later.
It’s not clear who is organizing the rallies planned for Sunday. Reports say the organizers describe the events as meant for patriots. Wheeler and other officials declined to identify the groups planning to gather.
Lovell told reporters Friday that he has canceled all days off for Sunday and that all available personnel will be reporting for duty.
Antifa groups across the Pacific Northwest are calling members to go to Portland to respond to the rallies, according to Antifa expert Andy Ngo. One poster said that “fascists are once again attempting to rally in Portland” and that antifascists should “fight back—all out!”