The Proud Boys descended on Portland, Oregon Saturday, and local police prepared for conflict by ramping up their authority. As the Oregonian reported, dozens of police were deputized as federal marshals, and state Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency in anticipation of confrontations between the far-right group and left-wing counter-protesters.
State Police Supt. Travis Hampton was selected by Brown to act as the head of the government response during the protests and requested permission to deputize officers so that they could prosecute protesters under federal laws, which typically have stiffer penalties.
“Portland officers have been serving on the front lines of nightly protests for months, sustaining injuries and encountering unspeakable violence,” he said. “If I am to send them into harm’s way this weekend, on my authority, I’m going to ensure they have all the protections and authority of OSP troopers.”
Federal Marshals are able to charge protesters with assault against an officer if they are hit by any objects. In past protests, law enforcement have been pelted with various objects, such as fireworks and bottles, and in one instance, the thrown debris included a nearly 10-pound rock.
“I want violent individuals thinking about the enhanced penalties they may face if they harm a Portland Police Bureau officer,” Hampton said.
By declaring a state of emergency, officers are also able to legally deploy chemicals like tear gas to disperse the crowd if necessary.
“Local residents and anyone traveling to Portland with the intent to commit violence are on notice. There will be consequences for acts of violence,” Oregon U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams said.
He added that anyone caught engaging in acts of aggression would be arrested and prosecuted.
The Proud Boys began their protest in North Portland before they were expected to move into the downtown area of the city. As CNN reported, some of the individuals carried firearms and wore body armor, others carried pro-Trump campaign signs and some had baseball bats.
At least three people were arrested early in the day at the 1,000-person rally. Meanwhile, about 450 counter-protesters assembled nearby.
The Proud Boys, which has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, said that they wanted to demonstrate in support of President Trump and to urge supporters to run for local office and register to vote.
Portland has witnessed nightly protests after the killing of George Floyd. Since then, Trump has condemned the demonstrations, which sometimes turned violent. His administration recently began the process of defunding the city for what they see as its failure to bring the protests to an end, as The Inquisitr previously reported.