Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler will bring a proposed emergency ordinance to the City Council on Thursday asking the city to restrict when and where protest groups with a history of violence may gather and demonstrate, saying tougher regulations are needed to curb injuries to people, damage to public property and offset other safety concerns.
Wheeler cites the rash of violent confrontations between rivaling factions in public demonstrations that have occurred over the past two years as the catalyst for the ordinance, including an Oct. 13 demonstration that culminated with right-wing Patriot Prayer and counter-protesting Antifa brawling in the streets.
“We’ve become a magnet for agitators either with a history of—or an expressed intent to violent,” Wheeler said.
The new regulations could be applied when two groups announce that they’ll meet at the same place and time for a demonstration and each have a history of violence with each other, officials said. If the new rules are broken, violators could face a misdemeanor charge and fine of $500 and up to 6 months in jail, or both.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon has condemned the proposal saying it regulates Constitutionally-protected speech and assembling with no meaningful oversight for abuse.
“The proposed ordinance raises many constitutional concerns,” said Mat Dos Santo, legal director for the ACLU of Oregon. “Perhaps worse than the legal issues it raises, is that this ordinance is being sprung on the public with little notice as an emergency measure that will take effect immediately.”
Dos Santos said he expects the opposition to grow with more public outcry, planned demonstrations and challenges in court.