Oregon officials are ramping up safety measures to protect Portland residents ahead of a planned Proud Boys rally, where some participants are expected to be armed.
Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency in response to Saturday’s rally at a press briefing. The action allows Oregon State Police and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office to take “charge of public safety in Portland,” Brown said.
“The pattern of these particular groups is clear: to intimidate, instigate and inflame, and these types of demonstrations in the past have often ended in fistfights, and sometimes escalated to bloodshed,” she said. “I am incredibly concerned about this increased risk of violence in Portland this weekend, and for the safety of Oregonians.”
The Proud Boys are a self-described “western chauvinist” group founded in 2016, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. While the group denies any connection to the “alt-right,” the SPLC has designated the Proud Boy as a hate group.
“Proud Boys have appeared alongside other hate groups at extremist gatherings like the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville,” the SPLC’s website says. “Indeed, former Proud Boys members Jason Kessler helped to organize the event.”
Kessler was “expelled” from the Proud Boys after violence broke out at the rally in 2017, according to the SPLC.
The group is holding the Portland rally to protest the killing of Aaron ‘Jay’ Danielson, “who was allegedly killed by a self-proclaimed antifascist in Portland,” the SPLC said in a news release about the rally.
The rally is expected to take place at a park and the governor predicts many of its participants will come from out of state.
“They are expecting a significant crowd — some people will be armed, with others ready to harass or intimidate Oregonians,” Brown said.
While the governor acknowledged the Proud Boys right to “express themselves freely,” she stressed violence will not be tolerated.
“When free expression is fueled by hate, and coupled with an intent to incite violence, then I need to do everything I can as governor to ensure the safety of Oregonians,” she said.
Under the emergency order, law enforcement will be allowed to use tear gas despite the Portland mayor’s ban on the practice, the Oregonian reported.
City officials denied the group a permit for their “End Domestic Terrorism” event, according to the newspaper. But Proud Boys organizers still expect 20,000 people will attend, KGW reported.
Counter protests have been organized in the city in response to the planned Proud Boys rally, according to the outlet.