Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and city officials have publicly denounced an event reportedly scheduled to be held in the Oregon city on Saturday by alt-right and White nationalist groups, saying they are not welcome and urging them to stay home.
Wheeler and several city officials, including Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, released a more than two-minute video condemning the rally that was planned by the right-wing group Proud Boys.
“Hate has no home in the city of Portland. Violence has no home in Portland. Anyone intending to intimidate, to create fear, to commit any act of violence or spread hate is not going to be welcomed here and any acts of violence or criminal destruction will be viewed as criminal activity and people will be held accountable,” Wheeler said in the video. “For this Saturday to remain a peaceful day – which is what all of us want – we need everyone’s help," Wheeler continued.
Wheeler also shared a tweet describing how the groups planning to come to Portland on Saturday “empower racism, intolerance and hate.” In a separate tweet, he called those who planned to attend the rally “agitators."
Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio said in a statement last week that the rally would be peaceful and urged those planning violence to stay away.
Tarrio has said the rally is aimed at the city’s political leadership, including Wheeler, and he has criticized the mayor for not doing more to stop protests that have occurred in the city for nearly four months following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis while in police custody.
On Wednesday, the Oregon city denied a permit for Saturday’s rally, finding that the group’s estimated crowd size of 10,000 people was too big under coronavirus safety measures, according to a statement released Wednesday by the Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau.
The bureau said it had consulted with Wheeler, who is also the police commissioner, and decided that those attending would not be able to comply with social distancing rules because of the large number of people.
“We must all do our part to fight the spread of COVID-19 in our community and keep ourselves and each other safe. Events like this are not welcome and are not allowed,” Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who oversees the city’s parks department, said in the statement.
The Proud Boys have been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Members of the group have rallied in Portland several times in recent years and draw large numbers of people who show up to oppose their presence in the liberal city.
The rally planned for Saturday was moved from downtown Portland to Delta Park in north Portland to accommodate what the Proud Boys called a “battalion of patriots” exercising their right to assemble freely.
Left-wing groups plan at least two events to oppose the Proud Boys, including one in Delta Park.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.