After a week of heated debate about how Portland should control protesters who brawl in city streets, police today have kept far-right and far-left groups separated, while using very little force themselves.

More than 200 antifascist demonstrators gathered downtown around 1 pm today to oppose a small far-right rally attended by fewer than 50 people.

Antifascist protesters gather in downtown Portland on Nov. 17, 2018. (Sam Gehrke)
Antifascist protesters gather in downtown Portland on Nov. 17, 2018. (Sam Gehrke)

Portland police and other law enforcement agents successfully kept the two opposing sides separated with minimal force and no riot control agents for more than an hour. The city shut down half of Chapman Square, citing an emergency ordinance, before either demonstration began. Then they closed the sidewalks surrounding Terry Schrunk Plaza.

The closures kept the much larger antifascist crowd away from the right-wing "Him Too" rally organized by far-right activist Haley Adams to mock and discredit the "Me Too" movement. Several Patriot Prayer supporters, including Joey Gibson and Tusitala "Tiny" Toese, showed up and gave speeches.

The protests cap off a week when city officials tried to expand police authority to control public demonstrations. Mayor Ted Wheeler proposed an ordinance that would have allowed the police commissioner to authorize the Police Bureau to limit when and where protesters could gather if they had a history of violence.

City Council rejected Wheeler's proposal, telling the mayor and police to return to using existing laws to prevent or stop street brawls between the far-right and left.

About an hour into Adams' rally, police maintained the barrier between the two groups. They had not used riot control agents, which have previously caused backlash at past protests.

Antifascist protesters gather in downtown Portland on Nov. 17, 2018. (Sam Gehrke)
Antifascist protesters gather in downtown Portland on Nov. 17, 2018. (Sam Gehrke)