Portland, OR – Clashes have started between antifa and anti-antifa groups in Portland and arrests have started.
But left-wing counter-protesters called on their supporters to show up in opposition to the rally, and have scheduled demonstration events of their own.
Hundreds of antifa activists are estimated to be in attendance.
The patriot event was spearheaded by former InfoWars employee Joe Biggs, with the support of Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, according to The Oregonian.
Biggs previously posted that over 1,000 men including “ex special forces military groups, Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and Titans of Liberty” would make their way to the city for the event, The Oregonian reported.
“We are coming for antifa,” he wrote.
In response, Rose City Antifa called on supporters to come “to defend Portland against far-Right attack” and “tell these far-Right and neo-Nazi groups that they are not welcome in Portland, and their search for victims on our streets will not be tolerated.’’
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said he believes the patriot groups selected Portland as the location for their rally in order to pick a fight with antifa.
“I think they come to Portland because it gives them a platform,” Wheeler told The Oregonian. “They know that if they come here conflict is almost guaranteed.”
The Oath Keepers later announced that they would not be attending the rally because they were concerned that Biggs had not done enough to keep white supremacist groups from showing up, USA Today reported.
None of the event organizers have applied for permits for their gatherings, CBS News reported.
“We support people’s rights to demonstrate,” Wheeler said ahead of the demonstrations, according to FOX News. “But we don’t care about who you are or your politics are. If you engage in violence in this city, you will be held accountable.”
City leaders hope to keep simmering tensions between the opposing groups from exploding into a full-blown riot by adding scores of extra patrols in the area, according to The Oregonian.
Over two dozen law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Oregon State Police, will assist the city’s police force, USA Today reported.
Under Oregon law, citizens can be arrested for rioting “if while participating with five or more other persons the person engages in tumultuous and violent conduct and thereby intentionally or recklessly creates a grave risk of causing public harm,” according to The Oregonian.
Earlier this month, Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw cancelled officers’ days off and asked the governor to consider sending the Oregon National Guard to back up police for Saturday’s planned protests.
Chief Outlaw has promised that Portland police officers will disperse crowds and make arrests if things become unsafe between protesters and counter protesters, The Oregonian reported.
“We will be there in mass to ensure that we can react and ensure there are quick and swift consequences,’’ the chief said. “There will be both.’’
Chief Outlaw has been under fire for letting protesters take over the city on multiple occasions as police stood by and watched.
Most recently, on June 29, eight people, including three police officers, were injured in the melee when most of the city’s streets were shut down or blocked as roving bands of antifa, clad in black and wearing hoods or helmets with black face masks, attacked police, conservative demonstrators, and at least one journalist.
Separate demonstrations led by different factions had been planned in several places in the city, but the violence and mayhem had escalated to the point where the Portland Police Bureau was forced to declare a civil disturbance and unlawful assembly mid-afternoon, The Oregonian reported.
Three people were hospitalized after being attacked by protesters who wielded pipes and bats and threw eggs and milkshakes.
During the chaos of the day, journalist Andy Ngo was attacked by a mob several times.
Ngo was filming the crowd when he was attacked from multiple directions by masked antifa and his GoPro camera was stolen.
He was able to get clear of the crowd and talk with officers, and then was transported to the emergency room for treatment.
Ngo was admitted to the hospital overnight with a “brain bleed,” according to his attorney Harmeet K. Dhillon.
On Saturday morning, Ngo tweeted that Facebook had taken down an event page created by Rose City Antifa – the group that claimed responsibility for the attack on him.
Rose City Antifa then took to Twitter to drum up more support for its cause.
On Saturday morning, President Donald Trump said he is monitoring the situation in Portland, and that he is considering declaring antifa as a terrorist organization.
Many other unrelated downtown events have been relocated or canceled in anticipation of the potential clash between protesters, The Oregonian reported.
Police also encouraged citizens to stay away from that area of the city while the rally and counter-protest are underway.
Numerous businesses have also shut down for the day, and the city has blocked off several roadways and bridges in anticipation of the events, USA Today reported.