PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - The Portland City Council is set to take up an ordinance Thursday that would give the city and police the power to tell people where they can and cannot protest and what times they can do such a thing.
The goal of the Protest Safety Ordinance is to address violence that has happened at numerous protests in Portland over the past year, according to Mayor Ted Wheeler's office.
Wheeler told FOX 12 Wednesday the ordinance would allow the city to preemptively act when they know violence may breakout at an unpermitted protest.
“This just gives us a few more steps to set clear expectations in advance and take reasonable precautions when we think there is a high likelihood of violence,” Wheeler said.
Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw said she fully supports the ordinance.
“When we are talking about arrests it’s already too late,” Outlaw said.
Wheeler said if the time, place, manner ordinance had been in place during a prior protest last year things may have ended differently.
Patriot Prayer had gathered in Terry Shrunk Plaza for a rally. At the same time, Antifa and other counter protesters gathered in the park across the street and surrounding sidewalks. Wheeler said if he ordinance had been in place the two groups would have been kept further apart.
“The whole point is, is to keep the groups separated as much as possible so everyone can exercise their right to free speech but without the exposure and the likelihood of violence,” Outlaw said.
Opponents to the idea said the proposal is unnecessary, adding there are already laws on the books against violence and blocking city streets.
“Mayor Wheeler is now going to be the free speech comasare, you can talk and you can’t, you can say this here, there and it’s all one guy, what happened to the rule of law,” Multnomah County Republican Chair James Buchal said.
The ACLU of Oregon is also not thrilled with the proposed ordinance. Mat dos Santos, the groups legal director issued the following statement.
“We share the concerns of many Oregonians that Portland is becoming a regular gathering place for white nationalists, but the mayor’s proposed protest ordinance is deeply flawed. There is no excuse for violence on the streets, and the last thing we want is more violence. There are reasonable, legal solutions to address violence on the streets—this ordinance is not one of them. The ordinance hands law enforcement and the mayor far too much power, and risks undermining people's ability to practice their constitutionally-protected right to speech and assembly. The proposed ordinance is also very similar to efforts by the Trump administration to clamp down on protests near the White House and on the National Mall. Does the mayor want to follow the president's lead on this one, or define a more democratic, constitutional path for the city?”
Portland city commissioners will take up the proposed ordinance on Thursday.
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