PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland police are telling weekend demonstrators to leave their guns and weapons at home.
Getting out in front of a planned demonstration and counter-demonstration by Patriot Prayer and anitfa, the Portland Police Bureau released details of what they plan to do and what demonstrators should not do.
The demonstration, expected to begin around noon Saturday near Tom McCall Waterfront Park when busloads of Patriot Prayer supporters arrive from Vancouver, has the potential for nearly immediate altercations.
Police said they will make sure people can exercise their First Amendment rights and work to keep a safe environment.
Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson told KOIN 6 News what he wants out of the event:
“To be able to exercise our First Amendment rights on both sides,” Gibson said. “At the end of the day you can’t punch an ideology out of someone, you can only talk and learn and grow.”
But they noted there “will be a significant law enforcement presence in the area of the demonstration due to past threats and acts of violence.” And they warned demonstrators not to bring weapons of any kind.
Gibson, an announced Republican US Senate candidate in Tuesday’s Washington primary, said Monday every attendee should “be carrying around guns at all times — especially people in our situation.”
Gibson also said they’ve hired armed guards to accompany protesters to the rally.
But he confirmed to KOIN 6 News on Friday that he will not have a gun at the rally.
PPB officials said they will have “weapon screening locations” at the entrances to McCall Waterfront Park. “Explosive Detection Canines will be present prior to and at the event,” they said, and prohibited items may be seized, either temporarily or permanently.
In a Facebook post, Gibson also mentioned some of his supporters intend to infiltrate the antifa groups and “take care of business.”
“So we’re going to to have tons of people within antifa,” he said. “So we’re gonna start with them and march with them back to us, cause havoc for antifa, also make sure to communicate to us everything going on.”
He also told KOIN 6 News he wants his people to blend in and film illegal activity.
“If the police or mayor choose to not do anything, antifia without a doubt, they have already proven it will use violence against us,” Gibson said. “We go where we are told we are not allowed to go and we go where they are not enforcing the law and the constitution.”
According to Portland City Code, “it is unlawful to carry a loaded firearm in public unless you have a valid Oregon concealed handgun license or as specified in the code.”
Weapons are also prohibited in parks. Oregon does not recognize concealed handgun licenses from other states, meaning anyone with a concealed handgun license from anywhere outside of Oregon is not allowed to conceal it here.
There may be traffic disruptions. No permits have been issued for the groups, and anyone marching should remain on sidewalks, police said.
Downtown businesses may have to adjust their Saturdays due to the protest activities. One waterfront restaurant manager said they’ll have security just in case.
“We have security on call if anything happens, they show up very quickly,” Clayton Cook said. “If any sort of violence breaks out we just move all the patrons inside.”
Eugene Shiriac at Giants NY Pizza said they’ll be open.
“I’m not afraid tomorrow,” he said. “I’m hoping everyone will behave properly.”
Shiriac witnessed Patriot Prayer’s June 30 rally that turned violent.
“It was violent just down the street there,” he said. “All the crowds managed to go out without touching anything, so that was a positive thing for me to see.”
TriMet officials said they monitor these events and will alter their service if necessary.
Any changes will be posted at TriMet.org/alerts