Organizers of a downtown Portland road race for fans of the Portland Thorns professional women's soccer club have decided to relocate the event across the Willamette River on Aug. 17, to avoid running into a looming clash between the right-wing group the Proud Boys and antifascist counterprotesters.
The Roses on the River 5K walk and run was scheduled to start at the South Waterfront near the Hawthorne Bridge but has been moved to the Eastbank Esplanade. The event is designed to accompany a Thorns game—but it's being moved to the far bank of the river to avoid what authorities fear will be a violent political brawl.
Event organizers say the move is an attempt to ensure the safety of attendees.
"We have been working with city officials this week and decided yesterday it would be wise to move our 5k race to the other side of the river so that our participants, volunteers, vendors, and spectators would be safe during our event," a spokesperson for Terrapin Events, the group helping organize the race, says. "This last minute move has caused a lot of extra work for our team, but we want everyone to still come out to the event and have a good time. We don't want people to have to worry about the protests going on."
The protest, called "End Domestic Terrorism," was inspired by calls to label antifa as a domestic terror group. It's organized by a right-wing Florida talk radio host who seeks to outlaw antifascist demonstrators.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Police Chief Danielle Outlaw have warned the city is prepared to meet violent protesters with a strong show of police force.
"To those people planning to come and inflict violence in our city," Wheeler said in an Aug. 7 video message. "We don't want you here. This is why I have empowered and directed the Portland Police Bureau to use whatever means necessary and to amass whatever resources necessary to ensure public safety and to uphold the law.