Portland officials, backed up by heavy police presence downtown, warn they will not tolerate any violence in a potential face-off Saturday between far-right rallygoers and the militant left-wing group antifa.
None of the city's nearly 1,000 police officers will have the day off. City workers have also put down a half-mile of concrete barriers along Waterfront Park, site of the rally.
"You can anticipate a very large law enforcement presence, a visible presence, in the area," said Portland Police Bureau spokesperson Lt. Tina Jones. Police have asked the public to stay away from the event area.
Related Video: Protests Erupt As Congress Debates Immigration
The rally, billed as "End Domestic Terrorism," is aimed at the city's homegrown anti-fascist group Rose City Antifa, which has clashed in the past with right-wing marchers.
The event, which has not been given a permit, is organized by former InfoWars staffer Joe Biggs and supported by Enrique Tarrio, national head of the Proud Boys, an all-male, far-right group that champions "Western values."
Rose City Antifa warned that the far-right "is planning to invade downtown Portland" on Saturday "to bring their branded political violence to our streets." Its goal, the group said, was to have antifa declared a domestic terrorist organization.
Widely viewed as an outpost of West Coast liberalism, Portland is the setting for the TV comedy show "Portlandia." Fred Armisen, co-creator of the show, has called Portland the city "where young people go to retire."
That progressive image has led to clashes in the past between right and left.
In many ways, Rose City Antifa, the oldest of the country's largely anonymous antifa groups, is an irresistible lure for the far-right.
"I think they come to Portland because it gives them a platform,” says Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, according to The Oregonian. “They know that if they come here conflict is almost guaranteed.”
Wheeler and Chief Danielle Outlaw have vowed to use the full force of the law against anyone committing acts of violence or vandalism.
“We don’t want you,” Wheeler told The Oregonian/OregonLive, adding, “but if you do come, we will be ready for you.”
Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have also been mobilized and Wheeler has said he may also ask Gov. Kate Brown to call up the Oregon National Guard.
Stewart Rhodes, national president of the Oath Keepers, a prominent anti-government militia, has urged his members – who had been invited to attend – to stay away from the Portland gathering.
"We fully support free speech, and we fully agree that antifa is a domestic terrorist organization that uses force and the threatened use of force to intimidate, silence, and suppress the free speech of Americans," Rhodes said in a statement on his group's website.
But, he added, he does not believe rally organizers have taken "adequate steps" to exclude known or suspected white nationalists from attending.
"Oath Keepers has a zero tolerance policy for white nationalism or any other ethno-nationalist ideology that discriminates along racial lines (as our bylaws make clear) and we do not, and cannot, knowingly associate with known or suspected white nationalists," he said.
In June, three people were arrested as protesters and counter-protesters battled during random marches that followed two separate demonstrations.
The exchanges also deteriorated into attacks on police, with some antifa protesters throwing eggs and liquids at police officers, who responded with pepper spray near the Pioneer Courthouse Square.
Crowds eventually dispersed after police declared the gathering a civil disturbance and unlawful assembly.
Three people were treated for injuries at local hospitals, including Andy Ngo, a conservative writer who, The Oregonian reports, appeared to be attacked by antifa forces.
The June rally came almost a year after masked antifa forces threw eggs, water bottles and firecrackers at a march by the right-wing group Patriot Prayer, prompting police to declare a riot and revoke the march permit.
Officers also seized knives, clubs and chemical spray from antifa supporters, according to The Oregonian.
Ngo, who was roughed up in the June marches, has not indicated whether he would attend Saturday's rally. But he noted, on Fox News's "The Ingraham Angle" on Wednesday that "the whole thing is a powder keg."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Portland: City braces for possible left-right clashes at rally