Portland Mayor's 'Emergency Ordinance' to Combat Constant Left/Right Street Brawling Has Civil Liberties Advocates Worried

Mayor Ted Wheeler's proposed ordinance raises "constitutional concerns," says Oregon ACLU.


Diego Diaz/Icon Sportswire DFP/Diego Diaz/Icon Sportswire/Newscom

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is proposing an emergency ordinance cracking down on violent protests. That move has civil liberties advocates worried.

This past weekend saw a brawl breakout on downtown Portland streets between members of right-wing group Patriot Prayer and left-wing counter-demonstrators. It was the latest in a series of clashes between the two groups that started in spring 2017. In an attempt to curb this violence, Wheeler wants to give himself more powers to regulate where and when these groups can demonstrate.

"There's now a clear history of two or more groups in particular seeking each other out on the streets of our community. This violence is escalating. Public safety is at increased risk," Wheeler said at a press conference. "I will not allow continued, planned street violence between rival factions to take place in Portland Oregon."

The text of the emergency ordinance has yet to be released, but Wheeler did give some specifics at his press conference. The ordinance would allow the police commissioner (also Wheeler under Portland's system) to regulate the time, location, and length of demonstrations if two demonstrations are set to occur that day, and if those two demonstrating groups have either a history of violence, or stand to interfere with access to public property or public services.

The city would also be given the power to move demonstrations to other areas of the city. The ordinance would make it a misdemeanor to violate the conditions place on demonstrations, said Wheeler, meaning violators could be arrested and jailed.

Not having the actual text of the ordinance makes it difficult to understand how sweeping Wheeler's proposal would be. At Monday's press conference the mayor stressed that it would be content-neutral and would govern only the time, place, and manner of these demonstrations.

This has not erased the concerns of civil liberties advocates, who warn that this emergency ordinance is likely to conflict with the First Amendment rights of demonstrators.

"The mayor's proposal grants broad authority to the mayor's office to regulate constitutionally-protected speech and assembly with no meaningful oversight for abuse," said ACLU of Oregon Legal Director Mat Dos Santos in a statement. "This ordinance is being sprung on the public with little notice as an emergency measure that will take effect immediately. This action by the mayor demonstrates a lack of trust in the public and is an end-run around our usual democratic processes."

The Oregon ACLU has previously criticized the Portland police's handling of demonstrators at an August 4 Patriot Prayer rally, when officers fired less-than-lethal rounds and rushed left-wing counterdemonstrators.

Wheeler, meanwhile, has previously called for the federal government to revoke a permit given to Patriot Prayer for a demonstration it had planned to hold at the federally owned Terry Schrunk Plaza in downtown Portland in May 2017.

As I have argued before, many of the folks either attending the rallies put on by Patriot Prayer, or otherwise showing up to protest them, are obviously just looking for a fight. It's fortunate then that Portland has any number of laws on the books that outlaw things like assault, battery, and vandalism.

Enforcing those laws would be a far better way of dealing with the admittedly troubling street violence situation in Portland, rather than passing emergency ordinances that endanger bedrock constitutional freedoms like speech and assembly.

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  1. Oh. I thought something different when I saw “emergency ordinance”.

  2. So actually arresting, trying, convicting and jailing those who start fights is not an option?

    1. since that would mean the cops would actually have to go after the antifa… No.

      But that was my first thought too, “have you tried actually enforcing the law?”

      1. Hey man, I’ve tried nothing and I’m all out of ideas.

    2. Better to let these assholes fight to the death. Then everyone else wins.

      1. Its lefties fighting lefties, so let them do each other.

  3. If he suspends the writ of habeas corpus maybe they’ll put him on Mount Rushmore.

    1. Fist of “Civil War Revisionist” Etiquette

      1. In all seriousness, your comment was clever. I’m a big fan

        1. Really? His serious commentary, such as this, really shows his clinging to me.

          1. You’re right. He’s trying too hard.

            1. Those were just random words I strung together.

          2. I give up, why is that evidence of his clinging to you? I’d no idea you were close.

  4. I don’t think this is a bad idea. Just because you have a right to have a march doesn’t give you the right to show up and distrupt other people’s marches. The fact is that Antifa shows up specifically to start violence and disrupt any march they don’t like. So, I see nothing wrong with telling them they can’t do that. And why should the other side care if they can’t march at Antifa rallies?

    1. Reason is afraid the people with the wrong views on immigration won’t get their heads bashed in.

      1. Reason pretty much endorses the hecklers veto. As long as it is happening to someone they don’t like, they are totally fine with peopel showing up and distrupting speeches and preventing expression. My rights appearently include preventing you from exercising yours.

    2. I moved from Portland last year, which was 25 years too late to consider stuff lile this seriously.

      The problem with this shitty “emergency” ordinance is that Antifa will ignore it with no consequnces like they have for the past 20 years. Blocking bridges for Iraq war protests, hanging off bridges to protest oil tankers, WTO WTF, Occupy Your Parent’s Basement, etc. Years and years of violence and property damage with zero consequnce.

      One dipshit drew a gun when Antifa thugs charged him and he was sentanced to 50 years in prison. I linked that story previously.

      Its a crying shame, it could be such a great city. Oregon also has a pretty good track record of bystanders sropping mass shootings, which you would never know from the shit Antifa spouts.

      1. These dipshits lefties dont get away with that violent shit in georgia.

        We georgians shoot in self defense and the police send you on your way.

    3. So antifa just needs to see when you’ve scheduled a march/protest/rally and schedule something at the same time/place or close enough to get the totally unbiased mayor to cancel or limit both events. I can see how that won’t be abused at all either by the activist or their supporters in city government.

      The fact is one group and one group only seeks out and attacks the other. Dishonestly making it about mutual combatants as Mayor Wheeler and Christian do when it’s clearly aggressor and self-defense is to side with the aggressor in their goals (here shutting down all speech they disagree with).

  5. have either a history of violence, or stand to interfere with access to public property or public services

    Ah, the ole “Covering All Possible Bases” provision.

  6. So, which side is it that House Targaryen has declared for?

    1. House Targaryen, of course.

      1. Just what we needed: another na?ve, extremist third party with no popular support.

        1. But they do have dragons.
          I’ll side with the dragons.

          1. < Spoilers >

            I’ll see your 3 dragons of insurgent spoiler vote and raise you 1 expertly thrown ice-javelin of incumbent two-party system status quo.

            < /Spoilers >

            1. Lucky throw.
              And the holes in its wings are totally not aerodynamic

              1. You don’t need realistic javelin throwing skills or a credible flight envelope when you have pliant electoral regulatory boards, massive entrenched propaganda infrastructure and hundreds of years of voter inertia in all 50 states on your side. Or a cooperative CGI team at HBO. Same thing, basically.

              2. The A-10 warthog, like a dragon, can fly with holes in its wings.

                1. And that, class, is why the wall fell!

  7. “In an attempt to curb this violence, Wheeler wants to give himself more powers to regulate where and when these groups can demonstrate.”

    Which, of course, antifa mayor Wheeler would never use to impose his own bias

    1. Yet the ACLU complains that the Portland authorities have been too mean to the Antifa side.

      It is a topsy turvy world.

      1. The ACLU still claiming to be a civil rights organization is perhaps the most bizarre lie told today

  8. This is an interesting development. It’s been pointed out that when civil discourse fails, the worst kind of people– the people willing to do violence and aren’t concerned with the consequences are going to rear their heads. I think Portland has become a microcosm of this.

    I know it’s popular to say “Both sides!” so you don’t get stuck shilling for either side, however, there’s ample evidence that the Portland mayor invited this situation by tolerating a lot of the antics by Antifa– primarily the videos where Antifa had taken over intersections, were breaking windows in passing motorists’ cars while police literally stood by and watched. I’m trying to think of a facsimile to this situation in history, I’m sure one will come to mind.

    Anyway, guess who’s responding? Yep, the people on the right who are willing to do violence themselves and will go there looking for a confrontation. Now the mayor is forced to act with more draconian rules while everyone shouts “both sides!”.

    1. That is exactly right Paul. Charlottesville and its aftermath was a perfect example of this. The police stood around and let Antifa start a riot. In the course of that riot, some nut ran a car down a street crowded with pedestrians killing one woman. The fact that said nut was part of the other side and not Antifa is really besides the point. When Antifa showed up and started a riot, they are, along with the nut and everyone else who was involved in the right, responsible for the foreseable results of that riot, which includes things getting out of hand and someone getting killed.

      But, everyone was so anxious to virtue signal and show their abhorance for the evil white nationalists, that rational point was never made and Antifa allowed to escape repsonsibility.

      1. That point was explicitly denied with vehemence as the media went into pearl clutching mode whenever it was suggested that those incidents were anything other than pure good versus pure evil.

    2. I’m trying to think of some sort of day of broken glass, but I’m coming up short.

      1. My big fat Jewish wedding?

    3. Violence begets violence.

      Eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

      1. Turn the other cheek just hurts twice as much.

    4. There have been instances in Nashville where the police treated the Black Lives Matter crowd with kid gloves, letting them get away with blocking streets, etc. In fact there was an instance where they not only let them block the interstate (and there are 3 of them that converge in Nashville) but they actually assisted them in doing it.

      This was back when Obama was still president. Subsequent to that there was an instance where Obama was coming to Nashville for some event and the police chief preemptively issued a stern warning that there would be no toleration of any street blocking by anyone protesting Obama.

      It was a glaring example of a double standard.

    5. How about City Hall subsidizing a crony mercantilist with tax breaks to build an Arena complete with Antifa, Patriot Prayer, lions, Christians, gladiators and competing anarchist gangs and to hell with the Octagon! The Coliseum in Rome is a tourist attraction. What’s Portland got now other than being 48 states away from Maine? Think cable royalties!

  9. “” It’s fortunate then that Portland has any number of laws on the books that outlaw things like assault, battery, and vandalism.”‘

    Can’t tell.

  10. As I have argued before, many of the folks either attending the rallies put on by Patriot Prayer, or otherwise showing up to protest them, are obviously just looking for a fight. It’s fortunate then that Portland has any number of laws on the books that outlaw things like assault, battery, and vandalism.

    it is a bit late to arrest people after the damage has already been done. Moreover, the entire point of Antifa’s actions is to make it impossible for anyone to engage in speech they don’t like. So arresting them after they start a riot doesn’t solve the problem, since the riot has already occurred and Antifa’s victims have been deprived of their right to free expression.

    The author is either absurdly naive or just is okay with Antifa rioting and making it impossible for people to say anything Antifa doesn’t like.

    1. Are you proposing pre-crime investigations?

      All criminal arrests are after the fact. Why should these be any different?

      One reason to put the rascals in jail is to give them a criminal record, so subsequent criminal acts can get higher bail, bigger fines, longer sentences.

      1. No. I am saying you don’t have a right to dirupt other people’s speech. So if you have two organizations you know are going to do that, you don’t let them show up at each other’s rally.

        And throwing them in jail won’t work. First, it is very hard to get convictions in these cases and many won’t care if you get them. Second, unless you want to start givign them really long jail terms, Antifa is never going to run out of people willing to show up and bust heads.

        1. “Antifa is never going to run out of people willing to show up and bust heads.”

          And pay their bail.
          Interesting, that

          1. And pay their bail.
            Interesting, that

            Most of that’s likely coming from the National Lawyers Guild, considering they did the same thing for Weatherman and their cohorts in the late 60s.

        2. RICO their asses and get them to flip like the govenrment does with all terrorist orgs.

      2. What you don’t do is go after one side with onerous hurdles to holding a lawful rally, disarmament checks and then treat the violent rioters with kid gloves.

        Everyone in a mask at the first event should have been rounded up and hit with civil disturbance charges then actually prosecuted, not studiously ignored as they tried to beat up others.

        The same rules for any leftist rally (defining characteristics may change) though I’ve yet to hear of a left wing rally devolving into a melee due to right wing agitators so maybe that’s not fair due to disparate impact or some other equal outcome hogwash.

  11. members of right-wing group Patriot Prayer and left-wing counter-demonstrators

    Do these left-wing counter-demonstrators have a name?

    He brought an American flag to protest fascism in Portland. Then antifa attacked him

    Paul Welch came to the downtown protest Aug. 4 to let his political leanings be known.

    With pride he clutched his U.S. flag as he moved among the crowd of like-thinking demonstrators.

    Soon a group of black-clad anti-fascist protesters, also known as antifa, demanded he lose the flag, calling it a fascist symbol. Welch refused, and a tug-of-war ensued.

    Video captured by Mike Bivins, a freelance journalist, shows what happened next.

    As Welch and the counter-protesters wrangle over the flag, another masked counter-protester begins to strike Welch’s body from behind using a weapon concealed in black fabric.

    That person then uses the weapon to club Welch on the back of the head, causing him to collapse instantly. The demonstrator with the weapon wanders off.

    1. Antifa is a straight up fascist terrorist group. But the hipsters at reason think they are cool and thus could never be worse than those evil right wingers. The amount of lying and false equivilence that reason engages in concernign antifa is just shameful.

      1. So you are saying that arresting and prosecuting members of a violent mob could actually deter them? I bet that hasn’t occurred to the Major.

  12. Look, by all means schedule demonstrations by rival groups in different places, so that if one of the groups (like, hypothetically, antifa) violates the permit requirements and tries to disrupt the other group, the disruptors can be arrested right away.

  13. The emergency ordinance was the goal all along. now Antifa will be given free range of the streets and if any other group doesn’t like it to bad no protest for you.

    1. Note to foreign readers: nationalsocialist commentators are easy to recognize in that their prophesying is in the future tense. Facts known to them and God are not yet revealed to us mortals.

  14. Right-wing bigots — white nationalists, disaffected incels, can’t-keep-up malcontents, faux libertarians, immigration authoritarians, superstitious anti-abortion zealots, economically inadequate misogynists, rural and southern racists, half-educated, stale-thinking goobers — have overrun a libertarian website.

    Carry on, clingers. See you at the polls. Soon enough, not even our system’s structural amplification of yahoo voices, or vestigial gerrymandering, or voter suppression will be enough to maintain an electoral coalition for backwardness, bigotry, superstition, insularity, and ignorance.

    1. I’m trying to imagine you saying all that in one breath.

      1. No, yelling it.


          That’s as far as I got typing out his whole spiel in all-caps before breaking out laughing at how overwrought it becomes once you make it into a homeless crackhead rant.

          Thankfully Past Me was never this bad…right?

        2. I’m pretty sure this is muttered while shuffling down the street.

      2. I wonder where he went to school. Because they did not teach him about logical fallacies.

      3. I’m kind of disappointed that we have an increasing number of trolls who aren’t even fun to argue with.

    2. Arthur L. Hicklib’s super-mad that his progeny got the shit kicked out them by a bunch of no-hopers.

      Maybe if they weren’t cursed with such a pathetic genetic line, they could have lifted something more substantive than a plate of avocado toast points.

    3. I vote libertarian, so don’t blame me. Heck, I even pay dues.

    4. So much spittle-flecked verbiage, so little coherence.

  15. Both sides should call a truce, march on City Hall and burn that motherfucker down. Then resume their street battles. Because Civil Rights are more important than peace and security.

  16. Christian makes a valid point, but still… legalizing the sale of popcorn and soda pop to spectators, and simple weapons like nunchaku and mace to the opposing gangs of socialists, could very well bring in sales tax revenue and provide a cheap Roman Holiday. If some of the nationalsocialist or sovietsocialist antagonists get hurt, there’s revenue for the city hospitals. Nobody is forcing the idiots to initiate force against each other, and the mel?e can’t possibly be worse than teevee.

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