This coming Saturday the 17th is the date a collection of far-right groups has vowed to come to Portland for another protest of Antifa. And of course, Antifa has vowed to be there in numbers, ready to engage in violence against anyone they perceive to be a threat to their progressive safe space. Given that the last such confrontation resulted in national news after reporter Andy Ngo was beaten in the street and sent to the hospital, Mayor Ted Wheeler and Police Chief Danielle Outlaw are looking to avoid a repeat. From the Associated Press:
Portland leaders are planning a major law enforcement presence on the heels of similar rallies in June and last summer that turned violent, and the recent hate-driven shooting in El Paso, Texas. None of the city’s nearly 1,000 police officers will have the day off, and Portland will get help from the Oregon State Police and the FBI. Mayor Ted Wheeler has said he may ask Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, to call up the Oregon National Guard…
Portland’s City Hall has been evacuated twice due to bomb threats after the June 29 skirmishes, and Wheeler, the mayor, has been pilloried by critics who incorrectly said he told police to stand down while anti-fascists went after right-wing demonstrators.
“I don’t want for one minute anyone to think that because we’re being thrust into this political show, that I or the public have lost confidence in (police officers’) ability to do what we do,” said Police Chief Danielle Outlaw, who is regularly heckled as she leaves City Hall by those who feel the police target counterprotesters for arrest over far-right demonstrators.
If you’ve watched any of the videos of Antifa marches in Portland, you probably already know that whenever there aren’t any right-wing groups to focus on, Antifa immediately turns on the Portland police. They frequently chant “all cops are bastards” as they march.
Antifa has also accused the police in Portland of “collusion” with the right because a police officer whose job was to coordinate with the dueling protests was in contact with the leader of Patriot Prayer. The claims are complete nonsense of course. The same police officer accused of being friendly with the right had previously been friendly with a member of Antifa and for the same reason: It’s his job to keep track of what the groups are planning to do in order to allow police to better keep them apart.
The person who is organizing this weekend’s protest is someone named Joe Biggs:
Biggs said those coming to Portland have been told not to bring weapons or start fights, but they will defend themselves if attacked.
Biggs toned down his online rhetoric after the El Paso shootings and urged followers coming to Portland to keep a cool head. He says he is not racist — he has a toddler daughter with his Guyanese wife — but wants to show the world antifa’s violent tactics.
“That group of antifa there in Portland needs to be exposed for who they are,” Biggs said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “And guess what? They should be scared.”
So Biggs isn’t exactly committed to non-violence and there’s no doubt where Antifa stands:
Portland’s Rose City Antifa, the nation’s oldest active anti-fascist group, says violence against right-wing demonstrators is “exactly what should happen when the far-right attempts to invade our town.”
So you have one group ready to fight and another ready to fight back. But allowing these opposing groups to get physical was the strategy embraced by the police in Charlottesville. The police chief there literally said “let them fight…” when the first reports of street brawls came in. Since then, police have mostly gotten the message that keeping opposing groups separated is the key to avoiding an escalation of violence. The Portland PD needs to do a much better job of that this weekend than they did when reporter Andy Ngo was attacked and put in the hospital.