Portland braces for violence at far-right rally — entire police force will be on duty

Portland braces for protests

Last Updated Aug 17, 2019 2:32 PM EDT

Portland, Oregon — The serenity of downtown Portland will be tested yet again Saturday afternoon. Stores began closing Friday night ahead of dueling protests between groups of right-wing extremists and anti-fascist demonstrators.

Several extremist groups are expected to show up, but no one has applied for any type of permit. Police learned about the protest from monitoring social media, and from what they read, there is concern for possible violence.

In recent years, Portland has become a magnet for protests, some of them turning ugly. Several groups from the far-left and far-right said they will converge in the city's downtown. Police said its nearly 1,000 member force will be on duty.

"We recognize these events can cause alarm, anxiety and even fear for certain members of our community," said Lieutenant Tina Jones.

A riot in 2017 shattered store windows throughout downtown, leading to 25 arrests. Residents said they've grown weary of the street battles.

"It's sad to me because I think that a lot of people that come here to protest don't actually live here or share a lot of values that I believe Portland stands for," said resident Drew Edwards. 

The far-right event Saturday was organized by the "Proud Boys," a group the Southern Poverty Law Center designated as a hate group. Police aren't sure which protest groups will show up, what they'll be protesting about and if they're only coming to cause trouble. 

"We have seen a shift in the last few weeks in the rhetoric, and a separation of those who want to engage in free speech and those who intend to participate in acts of violence," Jones said.

Some business owners said they hope to stay open on Saturday. Meanwhile, the FBI will be on scene out of an abundance of caution.

President Trump on Saturday said there was "major consideration" to name "Antifa" an "organization of terror." Antifa is a collective name for anti-fascist protesters. "Portland is being watched very closely. Hopefully the Mayor will be able to properly do his job!" Mr. Trump tweeted

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