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Portland mayor decries violence, hatred ahead of rally

PORTLAND, Ore. — The mayor of Portland, Oregon, said Wednesday anyone planning violence or espousing hatred at a weekend protest by right-wing groups in the liberal city “are not welcome here.”

Mayor Ted Wheeler spoke at a rally with other city leaders ahead of the event Saturday, which is also expected to bring out anti-fascist protesters. Anticipating trouble, none of the city’s nearly 1,000 police officers will have the day off Saturday

The Saturday event is being organized by a member of the Proud Boys, who have been designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.

Wheeler spoke at a rally with dozens of representatives from the city’s religious, police and business groups. He decried any groups “who plan on using Portland on August 17th as a platform to spread your hate.”

Other groups expected to be at Saturday event include members of the American Guard, the Three Percenters, the Oathkeepers and the Daily Stormers. American Guard is a white nationalist group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, while the Three Percenters and the Oathkeepers are extremist anti-government militias. The Daily Stormers are neo-Nazis, according to the centre.

At a rally in June in Portland, masked anti-fascist members — known as antifa — beat up a conservative blogger named Andy Ngo. Video of the 30-second attack grabbed national attention.

Republican Sens. Ted Cruz, of Texas, and Bill Cassidy, of Louisiana, introduced a congressional resolution calling for anti-fascists to be declared domestic terrorists, and President Donald Trump echoed that theme in a tweet last month.

At the Wednesday rally, Wheeler said Portland has a history of supporting the right to assemble and free speech. “We’ve protested war, we’ve protested hate, we’ve protested racism, we’ve protested sexism,” he said.

But Wheeler said recently groups have used the “guise of free speech” to be violent.

“Violence is not a civil right,” the mayor said.

The Associated Press