A proposal to give the mayor more power to limit political protests in Portland, Ore., failed to win city council approval. Portland has been the scene of numerous and often-violent clashes between right- and left-wing protesters.
Portland, Ore.’s city council has voted down a proposed ordinance that would have given the mayor new powers to restrict political protests, The Oregonian reports. The proposal, which lost by one vote was Mayor Ted Wheeler’s response to the city’s string of often-violent clashes between right-wing and left-wing protesters. This leaves the city of Portland, viewed by many people as a liberal bastion, vulnerable to more protests led by right-wing activists who bait opponents to show up in force. How police will keep them apart and keep participants and bystanders safe remains an open question. To date, whether police turned out in force or were badly outnumbered, such dueling protests have led to injuries, arrests and property damage.
Wheeler’s ordinance would have given him the power to issue orders dictating the conditions of protests if the group or groups planning to demonstrate had a history of violence and, in his judgment, would jeopardize public safety. The mayor said he and Police Chief Danielle Outlaw developed the idea in response to the increasing number of violent demonstrations in Portland since 2016, during which right-wing protesters often provoke left-wing counter-demonstrators into fisticuffs or fighting with improvised weapons. Wheeler repeated his talking points Wednesday — calling his proposal legal, reasonable and necessary — while criticizing news coverage that called into question whether restricting protests is constitutional. But council members who voted against the measure expressed qualms about expanding police powers and hopes that less drastic alternative strategies will be found.