Courtesy of Willamette Week:
Mayor Ted Wheeler proposed an emergency ordinance Monday afternoon that will allow Portland police to separate dueling protest groups that have turned the streets of downtown Portland into battlegrounds.
The new rules will allow officers to require protesters with a history of violence to gather in designated areas, where police will have an easier time keeping adversaries separated.
“I will not allow continued, planned street violence between rival factions to take place in Portland, Oregon,” Wheeler said at a press conference this afternoon. “I have also asked my staff to evaluate options to hold accountable those who recklessly drain our public safety resources by using our city as a venue for planned street violence.”
Wheeler says City Council will likely vote on the ordinance this week.
The change comes on the heels of a melee outside Kelly’s Olympian bar on Oct. 13, where the right-wing groups Patriot Prayer and the Proud Boys brawled with antifascists. Police faced renewed scrutiny for failing to keep the two groups apart—and making no arrests during the mayhem.
Today, Wheeler said that prior to an Aug. 4 rally, the Portland Police Bureau discovered right-wing protesters who had positioned themselves on the roof of a building with a cache of firearms.
What began in the spring of 2017 as improvised confrontations in downtown parks—usually marked by insults and culminating in a punch or two—has grown into chaotic rolling brawls that rage the length of a city block. Patriot Prayer and the Proud Boys have made Portland their primary destination for antagonizing masked antifascists.
Antifa has often taken the bait, throwing punches and deploying bear spray on helmeted right-wingers who use flagpoles as weapons. The fights, which often pit one unlucky person against half a dozen adversaries, are bloody beatings, drawing national scorn.
In my opinion, there is some blame to go around for both sides here, both the Proud Boys an AntiFa.
However, it is also clear that one side is manipulating the other into engaging in violence that is more detrimental to the cause of those on the Left than it is to those on the Right.
With these methods, these Right Wing thugs have managed to create enough physical conflicts to feed the Left Wing mob meme that Trump and his conservative allies are now using to frighten the Republicans into voting in this midterm.
Look, I get it.
If this were thirty years ago I myself would be desperately wanting to jump into the fray and brawl with the Proud Boys in the streets. That would have been exhilarating to twenty-eight year old me.
But it would also have been stupid.
What we need now is to not take the bait, and to demonstrate restraint, even when we are pushed to our limits.
Martin Luther King faced far worse than this and his cause succeeded because he and his compatriots did not succumb to the call of violence.
twenty-eight year old me would never have understood this, but some victories you can’t just fight your way to.