Governor Kate Brown announced a “law enforcement plan” Friday, ahead of at least three demonstrations and counter-demonstrations planned for Portland this weekend, including one at Delta Park by the right-wing Proud Boys — which she and other officials have described as a “white supremacist group.”
“We are aware that white supremacist groups from out of town, including the Proud Boys, are planning a rally on Saturday in Portland,” Governor Brown said at a press conference. “Significant crowds of people are expected to join — some people will be armed, with others ready to harass or intimidate Oregonians.”
These types of rallies in the past have often devolved into fistfights and event bloodshed, the governor said, alluding to clashes between left- and right-wing demonstrators — including one in late August that ended with the death of conservative activist Aaron J. Danielson.
The alleged shooter in that case was a self-proclaimed member of antifa, who himself was killed in a confrontation by police attempting to arrest him.
“In America, we have the right to peacefully assemble, and everyone in Oregon has a right to express themselves freely — even those who the vast majority of Oregonians would deeply disagree with,” the governor said.” However, the First Amendment does not give anyone license to hurt or kill someone because of opposing political views.”
Brown said Oregon State Police and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office will “work closely” with the Portland Police Bureau to maintain safety and order throughout this weekend.
“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,” she said. “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.”
See Governor Kate Brown’s full press conference with state and local police officials below:
Throughout the summer, Portland was the site of more than 100 straight days and nights of demonstrations centered around calls for police reform and racial justice. Many of these ended with what police declared unlawful assemblies and even riots, and were often dispersed by use of force and tear gas.
Some demonstrators targeted federal, state and city justice or police buildings with acts of graffiti or vandalism, or even attempted arson. Protesters and police have clashed, and those on both sides have been injured — sometimes seriously.
Through it all, Brown has maintained her support for the protesters’ rights to peacefully assemble, even going so far as to “add [her] voice to yours” with regard to the calls for police accountability and justice.
More recently, she has — along with Mayor Ted Wheeler and Portland officials — been increasingly critical of the violence in the streets of Portland, for which they have routinely blamed inflammatory comments by President Donald Trump and his supporters.