Portland considers anti-mask law after violent protests

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Portland, Oregon, Mayor Ted Wheeler says he'll discuss ways to better control future protests by left- and right-wing groups with police, business, community and civil rights leaders.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that Wheeler called for new city rules barring people from wearing masks during protests and empowering officers to videotape demonstrations.

Police are investigating mayhem during June 29 rallies where several arrests were made and medics treated people for injuries on the scene.

Members of the so-called Proud Boys, a far right-wing organization, and an anti-fascist group called Rose City Antifa held dueling protests at several locations in downtown Portland. Fights broke out when the groups crossed paths.

That violence is "alarming," the mayor said, pledging to explore "ways to reduce these acts of violence in our community." At the same time, however, he maintained that Portland is neither unsafe nor lawless, despite injuries to eight people, including bloody head wounds, during the most recent dueling protests.

Wheeler did say he was considering having other city bureaus - such as the city transportation and fire bureaus - step in and play a role in preparing for such unpermitted protests to help police keep separate dueling demonstrators. He also said the city may have to reconsider its historic lax enforcement of unpermitted protests.

The mayor said he met with U.S Attorney Billy J. Williams, Oregon's top federal law enforcement official, to brainstorm legal and tactical strategies in the wake of the violent brawls.

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