“Major consideration is being given to naming ANTIFA an ‘ORGANIZATION OF TERROR.’ Portland is being watched very closely. Hopefully, the Mayor will be able to properly do his job!” Trump wrote on Twitter on Saturday, Aug. 17. He said last month that Antifa is full of “gutless Radical Left Wack Jobs who go around hitting (only non-fighters) people over the heads with baseball bats.”
He has also said Antifa is “evil” and full of “sick, bad people.”
According to signs being placed on at least one Starbucks in Portland, the store would be closing at 10 a.m. local time on Saturday because of the planned demonstrations.
The demonstrations were expected to include conservative groups Patriot Prayer, the Proud Boys, and the Three Percenters, with Antifa showing up to counter-demonstrate. Antifa, a far-left group, openly espouses violence against opponents and last month bashed journalist Andy Ngo and at least two other men in broad daylight.
Police have not made any arrests in those beatings.
From a follower who lives in far-left Portland, where political violence is becoming a way of life. pic.twitter.com/0nPDMuic1f
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) August 17, 2019
Tomorrow’s antifa vs. right-wing protests have the potential to be a powder keg. The event looms in the shadow of recent mass shootings by the antifa & far-right ideologues. Police seem to be at a breaking point.
— Andy Ngo (@MrAndyNgo) August 16, 2019
Ngo said that the likely clashes “have the potential to be a powder keg.”
“The event looms in the shadow of recent mass shootings by the antifa & far-right ideologues. Police seem to be at a breaking point,” he wrote on Twitter on Friday.
“And there are people who want bloodshed.”
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and city officials held a public relations event on Wednesday urging people not to show up over the weekend but a speaker there said there was no equivalency between Antifa and the groups they oppose and urged police not to deploy large numbers on Saturday.
Wheeler later told Fox News that there will be a large police response. The message to protesters was: “We don’t want your hatred, we don’t want your violence, but if you come here, we’re going to be prepared.”
Andy Ngo, a Portland-based journalist, is seen covered in an unknown substance after being attacked by Antifa in Portland, Oregon, on June 29, 2019. (Moriah Ratner/Getty Images)
Wheeler has consistently condemned conservative groups but avoided mentioning Antifa by name. He struggled to say why police haven’t’ made any arrests from the assaults Antifa committed last month when a host asked “What message does that send?”
“With all due respect I disagree,” Wheeler responded. “We don’t tolerate any act of violence—not that act of violence or any other. And the police are investigating and they are following up on leads.”
“They have photographs of some of the individuals that they believe were the perpetrators. I know that the intelligence unit continues to follow-up on those leads and I’m confident that there will be arrests in that particular case. This isn’t about anybody’s politics,” he said. “If they’re breaking the law, we’re going to enforce it. We’re going to hold people accountable.”
The city has long struggled with public displays of violence and mayhem, including leftwing protesters last year shutting down city streets and hitting the vehicles of those who refused to comply as police officers stood by watching. The police department said it feared intervention would “change the demeanor of the crowd for the worse.”
The city has also failed to take action on an anti-mask law proposed by Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw after the assault of Ngo and the other men. Antifa members like to obscure their faces to try to avoid arrest and prosecution.
Wheeler, a Democrat who was elected in 2016 and also serves as police commissioner, was reportedly heard saying in November 2018 that he “can’t wait” to leave office but he’s since said he will run for election.
— Portland Police (@PortlandPolice) August 13, 2019
Police this week sent out a map of Portland showing various things going on in the city, noting the planned demonstrations but saying “the area of impact is a very small portion of Portland.”
“There are many events happening in other parts of the metro area that will not be impacted. Here are few. Enjoy!”
In a press release on Aug. 16, police said, “The intent of law enforcement is to provide a safe environment for all participants, non-participants, and community members while ensuring the peaceful exercise of the First Amendment.”
“Based on publicly available information, the Bureau is concerned events on August 17 may involve persons interested in participating in criminal activity,” it added.
“Force is not the preferred response for making arrests or keeping an area safe, but it is an option law enforcement personnel may utilize to prevent violence, protect themselves or others, or disperse a crowd, for example. Force options may include, but are not limited to: physical force, pepper spray, pepper balls, rubber ball distraction devices, or cs gas. It is imperative for those involved to listen to the admonishments from the sound trucks and law enforcement personnel or be subject to force.”
A man who was later assaulted by Antifa, second from left, faces off with Rose City Antifa members at Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland, Oregon, on June 29, 2019. (Moriah Ratner/Getty Images)
Police expressed fear of the events on Saturday. Outlaw told The Oregonian: “We’ve been sitting on a powder keg and everything is kind of coming to a head at this point. Not just because of what’s happening locally, but nationally.”
A 5k walk/run was moved from the west side of the river to the east side because of the planned demonstrations, the paper reported. Dan Bower, executive director of Portland Streetcar, Inc., said that the Portland Streetcar Scavenger Hunt was postponed.
A Rose City Antifa spokesman confirmed that Antifa was planning to show up at the planned demonstrations.
“We will not allow Portland to be a playground for far-right violence,” said a man who identified himself only by the first name David. “We will not shy away from defending the city or ourselves.”