Portland has denied a permit to the far-right group Proud Boys for a planned rally Saturday in Delta Park, finding that the group’s estimated crowd of 10,000 people exceeds public safety measures in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
The group, which has gained national attention for its heated rhetoric and marches that often devolve into violence, originally planned to hold the rally in downtown’s Terry Schrunk Plaza. The change to the North Portland venue was made, the group said in a statement last week, “to accommodate … a ‘battalion of patriots’ who are ready to exercise their constitutionally protected right to assemble.”
But the city’s Park & Recreation Bureau, in consultation with Mayor Ted Wheeler, found that the group’s large crowd estimate ran counter to safeguards necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to city officials.
The city found the described event would not comply with Oregon Health Authority guidelines regarding the number of people allowed in gatherings under Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s emergency orders and can’t be conducted with proper physical distancing, according to Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who oversees the Parks Bureau.
“We must all do our part to fight the spread of COVID-19 in our community and keep ourselves and each other safe,” Fritz said in a statement. “Events like this are not welcome and are not allowed.”
Mayor Ted Wheeler, who also serves as police commissioner, on Wednesday called the Proud Boys’ plan to assemble at Delta Park “an insult,” noting that the location is the historic Vanport City, which was created as temporary housing for shipworkers and ended up home to many Black residents who were kept out of Portland because of racist real estate practices.
“Intentional or not, these groups choosing Delta Park for this event is an insult,” Wheeler said. “While espousing patriotism and a commitment to peaceful protest, some in these groups and many who associate with them embody and 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.”
Counter protesters are planning a simultaneous gathering about four miles away at Peninsula Park on Saturday, from noon until 3 p.m.
Tim Crail, Fritz’s chief of staff, said he did not know of any other applications for permits received by the city stemming from the 100-plus consecutive nights of social justice protests that have occurred in the city since shortly after the May 25 death of George Floyd, the Black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.
Mark Ross, a spokesman for the Parks Bureau, said the bureau would not grant a permit for a gathering of more than 50 people under the state’s current COVID-19 safety guidelines. Yet the bureau also doesn’t do enforcement, Ross said.
Enrique Tarrio, international chair of the Proud Boys, said by phone Wednesday afternoon before boarding a plane in Miami that he submitted the permit application to the city of Portland as “a courtesy,” but didn’t expect the city to grant it.
The application said the anticipated crowd would be 10,000 people, with another 10,000 supporters for a total assembly of about 20,000 people, according to the permit application obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive through a public records request.
On Wednesday, though, Tarrio said he expected more like 800 to 2,000 people might attend the group’s Saturday “End Domestic Terrorism,” demonstration. He said the group
He said he’s holding the rally in Portland to demonstrate against the violence that’s been allowed to occur nightly in the city. He also referenced the Aug. 29 fatal shooting of Patriot Prayer supporter Aaron “Jay” Danielson, a 39-year-old who police say was gunned down in downtown Portland after a pro-Trump car caravan wound through the city. Police say Michael Reinoehl, 48, a self-described antifascist who said he provided security for Black Lives Matter protests, targeted and gunned down Danielson. Reinoehl was later shot and killed by officers in Washington as they moved in to arrest him.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly made exaggerated claims regarding property damage, fires set and serious violence taking place in Portland and elsewhere to bolster his claims that cities led by Democrats have descended into chaos.
Demonstrations have turned violent on some nights, with members of the crowd lobbing fireworks, rocks or other objects at officers stationed outside either police precincts or federal buildings, such as the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office in Southwest Portland. Those actions have resulted in officers firing tear gas or impact munitions to disperse crowds, and led to multiple lawsuits against federal officers and the city of Portland. On Sept….