Portland Mayor admits not having police respond to a brawl between Antifa and another group was “not the right strategy”

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PORTLAND, OR – Earlier in September, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler switched his stance on the police response strategy (which was essentially non-existent) that was taken regarding a rolling brawl between Proud Boys and Antifa back in August.

While Mayor Wheeler originally thought police not immediately responding to dueling groups was the proper approach, following scrutiny from the public, he has since said that the approach was “not the right strategy”.

We at Law Enforcement Today previously reported on the brawl that spanned several blocks between Antifa and Proud Boys member that occurred back on August 22nd, with our previous report also highlighting the bizarre absence of police.

To say the least, the optics were frankly abysmal.

Two opposing groups consisting of Antifa militants on one side and Proud Boys on the other clashed literally in the streets and across business parking lots – with Antifa members hurling fireworks used as improvised explosives at Proud Boys, and Proud Boys using some sort of non-lethal CO2-powered rifles against Antifa members.

Not to mention, both groups had various individuals among them carrying large cans of mace or bear spray and were using them against each other.

The groups would at times weave in-and-out of ongoing traffic while on foot, continuing the fray and traffic being stopped and having a front-row seat to the clash.

And the public also noticed that police were nowhere in sight while the groups duked it out.

Portland Police and city officials were actually well aware that something was likely to happen on August 22nd, as Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell issued a statement two days prior to the brawl, noting that police will not be dispatched to get “in the middle” of opposing groups who decide to fight each other:

“You should not expect to see police officers standing in the middle of the crowd trying to keep people apart. People should keep themselves apart and avoid physical confrontation.”

On August 23rd, the day after the brawl in Portland, Mayor Wheeler issued a statement addressing the lack of police immediately responding to the clashing groups, supporting Chief Lovell’s decision to not have police intervene between groups engaged in mutual combat:

“In the past, these same groups have clashed with extremely violent and destructive results. This time, violence was contained to the groups of people who chose to engage in violence toward each other. The community at large was not harmed and the broader public was protected. Property damage was minimal.”

However, Mayor Wheeler has since backtracked those supportive sentiments, following the heavy criticisms coming from both local residents and media reports that scrutinized the approach.

During a Portland City Council meeting held on September 7th, Mayor Wheeler stated the following about the previously employed tactic that resulted in public outrage:

“It is clear based on the public outcry, on the media outcry, on the national front, that that strategy was not the right strategy. I think we can all acknowledge that. I take full responsibility for it.”

Mayor Wheeler acknowledged that his city happens to serve as “ground zero” for violent clashes between groups hosting opposing political ideologies – but seemed to cast heavier blame on “alt-right” groups coming to demonstrate and simply being met with what he called “a response” from his own band of violent locals who adorn black bloc:

“Portland is unique, in that we do seem to be ground zero for alt-right groups to come into our town because they know they’ll get a response. And they do.”

The mayor is struggling to figure out what exactly the city wants in terms of a police response; as he correctly noted that when police respond to riots then he faces criticism, and clearly when they don’t respond to riots – he also comes under criticism:

“The public doesn’t want an overwhelming police presence, nor do they want the appearance that the police are not going to get engaged.”

When it comes to Portland, it seems that there’s a lacking hardline answer on how to appease the local populace.

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As mentioned earlier, we at Law Enforcement Today previously covered the events in Portland from August 22nd. Here’s that previous repo that details the rolling brawl between Antifa and Proud Boys.

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PORTLAND, OR – Following a violent clash between reported Proud Boys and Antifa militants, where police were essentially nowhere to be seen during the showdown in broad daylight, local Antifa members had apparently briefly established a new autonomous zone in the fallout of the brawl.

On August 22nd, it was full-blown chaos in areas Portland, as members of Antifa and the Proud Boys openly fought in the streets in what one news outlets described as a “roving brawl” – which perhaps serves as the best description of what occurred that day.

It all started as some sort of a rally that the Proud Boys were holding at a Kmart parking lot, which was dubbed as the “Summer of Love: Patriots Spreading Love not Hate”.

The rally was originally meant to take place at Portland’s Waterfront Park – but Antifa militants had already gathered at Waterfront Park to protest the Proud Boys.

Thus, the Proud Boys reportedly did an off-the-cuff venue switch to the Kmart parking lot to avoid confrontation with Antifa.

This, however, did not work.

Dressed in black bloc, Antifa militants had literally crashed a handicap van outside of the rally in the parking lot, which led to a clash where Proud Boys were able to successfully chase them out of the area.

While Antifa were retreating, they were also throwing explosives at the Proud Boys and rally attendees chasing them away.

Elsewhere within the city, a couple of street preachers were harassed by another group of know far-left agitators, where the two street preachers were threatened, assaulted, and chased from the area.

Additional scenes of violent conflict unfolded as Antifa members were retreating, with video showing some of the Proud Boys catching up with one person in black bloc and launching a group assault against the individual.

As this was all ongoing, there wasn’t a police officer in sight to address the two opposing groups openly brawling in the streets.

Antifa kept retreating, with the group eventually making its way to Parkrose High School.

Proud Boys continued firing what appeared to be some sort of non-lethal CO2-powered rifles at Antifa, and also set their sights and began attacking a black van that was driving beside the crowd.

Elsewhere within Portland, there was exchanged gunfire between one man and apparently a group of Antifa members (which are not seen on the video of the man shooting). Video shows a lone man taking cover behind a drop box and aiming a handgun.

The man fires, and then the sounds of two shots that appear to hit in the area the man was staged can be heard.

Police confirmed that no one was injured in that shooting.

Portland Police later released a statement addressing why they didn’t intervene during the clash between Antifa and the Proud Boys, which reads as follows:

“There were no immediate arrests, but detectives are reviewing evidence to determine whether charges can be brought for any criminal activity. As stated before today’s events, officers were not deployed to stand in between individuals intent on confronting one another.

But that does not mean the crimes committed will not be addressed. Arrests do not always happen in the moment.

As in past such events, we are conducting follow-up investigations, gathering evidence, and will make arrests when probable cause exists that specific persons committed crimes.

Just because arrests are not made at the scene, when tensions are high, does not mean that people are not being charged with crimes later.”

In the fallout of the confrontation and brawl, Antifa established an autonomous zone near the Salmon Street Fountain in downtown Portland.

One journalist, who was wearing clearly marked press credentials, was sprayed with a chemical irritant by one of the Antifa members staged outside the autonomous zone.

However, the occupation was short lived, since the rally-goers associated with the Proud Boy event were no longer in the area, Antifa simply abandoned the area – leaving behind copious amounts of graffiti and riot gear they had adorned earlier.

As stated by Portland Police, the investigation into the entire chain of events in Portland is ongoing.

Please follow Law Enforcement Today as we continued to gather further insight into this developing case.

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