President Donald Trump on Saturday said “major consideration” is being given to designating Antifa an “organization of domestic terror,” as the left-wing anti-fascist demonstrators gathered in Portland, Oregon, to counterprotest a rally by far-right and extremist groups.
“Major consideration is being given to naming ANTIFA an ‘ORGANIZATION OF TERROR,'” the President wrote in a tweet. “Portland is being watched very closely. Hopefully the Mayor will be able to properly do his job.”
Trump’s tweet came after days of Portland authorities condemning hate and warning residents to stay home as far-right groups planned a rally aimed at putting an “end to domestic terrorism,” with a particular focus on Antifa extremist groups.
There were fears the rally could prompt violent clashes between both a smattering of right-wing extremists and Antifa counterdemonstrators, like those the city has seen in recent years.
The Oath Keepers, an anti-government group associated with the militia movement, said in a statement on its website it would not attend the event as a group but would continue to oppose Antifa.
Mayor Ted Wheeler responded to the President’s tweet in an interview with CNN Saturday, saying, “My job today is to be heads down and focused on maintaining the public safety here in Portland, Oregon. I’m focused on what’s going on the ground here in my community.”
“And frankly, it’s not helpful,” Wheeler added. “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.”
By late morning the Portland police had said they’d already seized items like bear spray, shields and metal and wooden poles from “multiple groups.”