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Portland Braces for Opposing Protests  08/17 09:07

   PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- More than two dozen local, state and federal law 
enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the Federal Protective Service, 
were in Portland, Oregon, on Saturday to help police there monitor a right-wing 
rally that's expected to draw demonstrators from around the U.S.

   Self-described anti-fascists have vowed to confront the rally while leaders 
from the far right urged their followers to turn out in large numbers to 
protest the arrests of six members of right-wing groups in the run-up to the 
event.

   Patriot Prayer's Joey Gibson, who is not involved in this weekend's event 
but organized similar rallies in 2017 and 2018 that erupted in clashes, 
surrendered Friday on an arrest warrant for felony rioting. He was at a 
confrontation that broke out on May 1 outside a bar where members of the 
so-called "antifa" movement had gathered after a May Day demonstration.

   In a video he livestreamed on Facebook, Gibson accused the police of playing 
politics by arresting him but not the masked demonstrators who beat up 
conservative blogger Andy Ngo at a June 29 rally that drew national attention 
to this small, liberal city.

   A video of that attack went viral and led the Proud Boys, who have been 
designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, to organize 
Saturday's event.

   "What I'm saying to everybody who's listening to this (is) they're trying to 
shut you guys up. They want you to not show up in Portland, they want to put 
fear in your hearts," he said.

   "When a government pushes back like that, we don't bend the knee," Gibson 
said, as he walked to the jail.

   Portland Police Bureau spokeswoman Tina Jones declined to comment about 
specific arrests but said generally police continue to investigate several 
incidents from clashes on May 1 and June 29 and are politically neutral.

   Members of antifa often cover their faces with masks, making it harder to 
identify them.

   "We receive criticism no matter what. It's either too much, not enough, you 
arrested this group and not this group," Jones said. "It seems like some people 
are keeping score, and that's not what it's about on the law enforcement side. 
One hundred percent, it's about public safety."

   In addition to the Proud Boys, the white nationalist American Guard and the 
Three Percenters, a far-right militia, have said they will have members in 
Portland.

   Hate group watchdogs say the Daily Stormers, a neo-Nazi group, are also 
expected.

   The Oath Keepers, another far-right militia group, said in a statement they 
were pulling out of the rally because organizers have not done enough to keep 
white supremacist groups away.

   "It would be best for the patriot/conservative cause if this August 17 rally 
were simply canceled," the group's founder, Stewart Rhodes, wrote. "Those who 
want to protest the way Portland coddles Antifa should start over, with a clean 
slate."

   Authorities asked residents not to call 911 unless it's a life-threatening 
emergency and to stay away from the heart of downtown. Some city streets will 
be closed Saturday, as well as a major bridge connecting the east and west 
sides of the city.


(KR)

 
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