Mayor Ted Wheeler minced no words about Joe Biggs, the Florida-based member of the Proud Boys who organized the protest that put Portland on edge for weeks.
“I want to be very clear,” Wheeler said. “We do not want him here in my city. Period.”
The mayor made the statement at a press conference after the 8-hour long protest between right-wing groups — largely from out of state — and home-grown anti-fascists. And he also made it clear he sees “a rising white nationalist movement, based on white supremacy” gripping the country that adds to a sense of fear.
“When we have people like Joe Biggs from out of state say they’re going to come here every single month until they do whatever it is they think we should be doing, I want to give this some context,” Wheeler said. “These types of demonstrations, and the kind of response we had to put in place today, cost millions of dollars. And if we’re spending money here today doing this those are resources that could be going to other top priorities in this community.”
But that is exactly what the Proud Boys say they’re going to do.
Enrique Tarrio, the chairman of the right-wing group Proud Boys, said they’re going to “keep coming out here” until Mayor “Ted Wheeler does something about antifa.” So the Proud Boys, he said, will “keep wasting his resources” to deal with these ongoing protests.
“He’s gonna call the National Guard, the FBI, all of those people. We’re gonna keep coming out here until Ted Wheeler does something.”
And Biggs himself said the protest was a success.
“Go look at President Trump’s Twitter,” he told The Oregonian/OregonLive. “He talked about Portland, said he’s watching antifa. That’s all we wanted.”
Wheeler didn’t back down and acknowledged that Portland, because of its progressive nature, “is always going to be at or near ground zero when it comes to this battle and that’s just a reality.”
“Nationally we’re seeing more hate speech, more intolerance, more divisiveness, and a lot of that animostiy is being geared towards women, people of color and immigrants,” Wheeler said.
“We are now confronting the reality that in the United States we have a rising white nationalist movement, based on white supremacy, in this country, and it is impacting the entire nation. But we’re certainly seeing that play out here on the streets of Portland.”