Portland Mayor Vows Zero Tolerance for Violence at Sunday’s Alt-Right and Antifa Showdown

Expect a heavy police presence at Sundays protests, a shift from the last two far-right protests where police stayed mostly out of sight.

Far-right protesters grapple with antifascists on Aug. 6, 2017. (Daniel Stindt)

Mayor Ted Wheeler is vowing a zero-tolerance policy for violence at the protests planned for Sunday evening between far-right protesters and antifascist counter-protesters.

"We will not tolerate acts of violence," Wheeler says in a statement. "We will not tolerate vandalism. We will not tolerate criminal behavior."

The new hard-line approach is a shift away from the Portland Police Bureau's hands-off response to the last two protests organized by the Vancouver-based far-right group Patriot Prayer.

At a so-called "Freedom March" in early August, antifascist protesters in masks clashed with the far-right protesters, resulting in several bloody fist fights that left some people seeking medical treatment. Three individuals were charged with disorderly conduct, but police didn't intervene to stop the fights. Similarly, in June, police allowed small skirmishes between far-right activists and counterprotesters to fizzle out.

The change in approach comes after violent demonstrations in Berkeley, Calif. and Charlottesville, Va.

Portland police spokesman Chris Burley says in another statement on the protests that PPB will organize a "significant law enforcement presence, due to past threats and acts of violence between these different groups, both locally and nationally."

Police have barred a number of items that can be used as weapons from the public demonstrations on Sunday, including firearms, knives, sticks, bats, poles, rocks, fireworks, and incendiary devices. Police have in the past used seizure of weapons as justification to detain protesters en masse.

PPB will be backed by a swath of law-enforcement agencies: Oregon State Police, the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, the Federal Protective Service, the United States Attorney's Office, the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office and Portland Fire & Rescue.

Here's Wheeler's full statement on the protests planned for Sunday:

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