The leader of the Right-wing protesters who were embroiled in violent clashes with Left-wing counter-demonstrators in Portland over the weekend has threatened to return to the city every month.
Enrique Tarrio, chairman of the “Proud Boys”, escalated the long-running feud between white supremacists and Antifa, a loose coalition of Left-wing and anarchist groups, which has brought mayhem to the streets of a number of American cities.
He said his group would stage further demonstrations until Ted Wheeler, the mayor of the Oregon city, moved against Antifa.
“The path forward for Mayor Wheeler is simple, free your city from the grip of Antifa, take direct and meaningful action,” he said.
At least 13 people were arrested and six were injured in Saturday’s clashes which saw police seize an array of weapons including bear spray, metal poles, batons and curtain rods.
Some of the Right-wing protesters, who included members of the paramilitary “Three Percenters”, who pledge to resist attempts to “curtail constitutional rights”, wore body armour,.
Portland Police deployed all of its thousand officers to keep the peace in the city.
The standoff was the latest in a series of clashes reflecting the growing polarisation of American politics.
Major consideration is being given to naming ANTIFA an “ORGANIZATION OF TERROR.” Portland is being watched very closely. Hopefully the Mayor will be able to properly do his job!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2019
Donald Trump, who was following developments from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, appeared to lay blame on Antifa for the violence, when he posted on Twitter.
“Major consideration is being given to naming ANTIFA an ‘ORGANIZATION OF TERROR’,” the president wrote. “Portland is being watched very closely. Hopefully the Mayor will be able to properly do his job!”
A Senate resolution, designating Antifa as a domestic terrorist group, has been proposed by Ted Cruz, a conservative Republican from Texas.
Mr Trump’s tweet was described as “not helpful” by Mr Wheeler.
“This is a potentially dangerous and volatile situation, and adding to that noise doesn’t do anything to support or help the efforts that are going on here in Portland.”
The US president finally bowed to pressure to condemn white supremacists after the mass shooting at El Paso earlier this month, which claimed 22 lives.
But in the past he has been reluctant to do so, notably after the August 2017 violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia when Heather Heyer who was killed when a car was driven into a group of people protesting against a “Unite the Right” rally.
Mr Trump was heavily criticised when he said there were “very fine people on both sides”.