Portland gears for duelling rallies amid fears of violence

President Trump says that Portland will be monitored closely. (Reuters pic)

PORTLAND: President Donald Trump said Saturday that the city of Portland, Oregon is being monitored closely as it hosts a far-right rally amid fears of clashes with leftist counter-demonstrators.

“Portland is being watched very carefully. Hopefully the Mayor will be able to properly do his job!,” Trump tweeted.

Trump tweeted that “Major consideration is being given to naming ANTIFA an “ORGANIZATION OF TERROR.” He did not elaborate.

Antifa stands for anti-fascist and refers to a loose international coalition of activists and protesters who oppose far-right ideology.

Portland, one of the most liberal US cities, is an Antifa stronghold, and the local Rose City Antifa is expected to send members out on to its streets on Saturday.

Police were expected to be out in force to keep the opposing camps away from each other as they converge on a waterfront park.

The city has received no permit applications for large public rallies on Saturday, said Tina Jones, a spokeswoman for the Portland Police Bureau.

“A lot of this is seeing who shows up on game day,” Jones told a news conference Friday.

Saturday’s far-right gathering is being organised in part by a group that calls itself Proud Boys and says it is a grouping for young “Western chauvinist” men.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre, a major civil rights organisation, has classified Proud Boys as a hate group.

Its leaders say the goal of the Portland rally is to have the antifa movement declared a domestic terror organisation, news reports said.

They point to scattered incidents of violence purportedly involving members of the loosely organised antifa movement.

But a statement on the Rose City Antifa website accused the far-right groups of planning “to bring their branded political violence to our streets,” and it encouraged people “to defend Portland against far-right attack.”

The slogan for the far-right rally is “End Domestic Terrorism.”