Portland Denies Proud Boys Permit as City Prepares For Protest Violence

The city of Portland has denied a permit for a planned rally by the far-right group Proud Boys citing fears about COVID-19.

The event which was scheduled to take place on Saturday, September 26, at Delta Park estimated that a crowd of 10,000 would be attending, with further 10,000 supporters, according to a permit application obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive.

However, Portland Parks and Recreation in partnership with Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz and Mayor Ted Wheeler confirmed that the application has been denied over fears about the spreading of coronavirus and that it would be in breach of Oregon laws about large crowds gathering amid the pandemic.

"The described event is not compliant with Oregon Health Authority guidelines about the number of people allowed in gatherings and cannot be conducted in a manner consistent with physical distancing guidance from public health officials," Fritz said in a statement.

"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 not allowed."

Proud Boys have staged several rallies down the years which have broken out into violence after being met with counter protesters.

The city of Portland is currently witnessing continuous days of Black Lives Matter protests since the killing of Minneapolis man George Floyd in late May.

A counter-protest to Saturday's Proud Boys rally by left-wing groups including Portland Jobs with Justice, Rose City Antifa and the Portland Democratic Socialists of America was also scheduled to take place a few miles away in Peninsula Park.

Counter-protesters said they organized the demonstration away from where the Proud Boys planned to be in order to avoid confrontation with the far-right group.

"We always show up to counter hate groups," Effie Baum, an organizer with Popular Mobilization, or PopMob, told The Oregonian/OregonLive. "But we don't have to let them dictate the terms of that engagement."

Aaron "Jay" Danielson, a supporter of fellow far-right group Patriot Prayer was shot and killed during clashes between opposing groups in Portland on August 29.

In a statement released Tuesday, Portland Police said they were aware of the two events which are being "promoted by individuals or organizations with differing ideologies" taking place on Saturday.

"Across our region we have witnessed devastation and loss of life from COVID to wildfires to gun violence," Chief Chuck Lovell said.

"It is up to all of us to make sure we do not have an event where further loss of life results. Lawful engagement in First Amendment rights is acceptable; attendance with the intent to harm or intimidate others is not appropriate or safe for anyone."

Mayor Wheeler also discouraged any extremist hoping to bring violence to the city on Saturday from showing up.

"Alt-right groups and white nationalists are intent on coming into our community," Wheeler tweeted. "These groups empower racism, intolerance and hate. Those are not Portland values, and they are not welcome.

"Hate has no home in Portland. Violence has no home in Portland. Anyone intending to intimidate, create fear, commit violence, or spread hate is not welcome here.''

The Portland City Council also released a joint video statement urging people not to engage with any far-right extremists who may still arrive in the city on Saturday.

It is unclear if the left-wing counter protesters also applied for a permit for their demonstration or if they were granted one. The Portland City Council has been contacted for comment.

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Proud Boys stage a moment of prayer before marching across the Morrison Bridge during "The End Domestic Terrorism" rally at Tom McCall Waterfront Park on August 17, 2019 in Portland, Oregon. The group have been denied a permit for a planned rally on Saturday due to coronavirus fears. John Rudoff / AFP/Getty