Officials in Portland are considering a law that bans protesters from wearing masks as the city struggles with how to tamp down violence involving the far-left group Antifa, The Wall Street Journal reported.
What are the details?
The idea was first floated by Police Chief Danielle Outlaw, who called for the measure following the beating and robbery of independent journalist Andy Ngo at the hands Antifa members during a June 29 protest.
"If you knew that you could easily be identified, OK, do you think you would be as inclined to commit that act of violence or commit that crime?" Outlaw asked during a news conference. "A lot of people are emboldened because they know they can't be identified."
Portland has been plagued by violent clashes between left-wing and right-wing groups in recent years, and the Willamette Week reported that "extreme violence [at rallies] has largely gone unpunished."
Mayor Ted Wheeler has recently come under fire for asking the police to stand down amid the chaos, but a spokesperson for Wheeler confirmed to The Journal that the mayor was considering the anti-mask law. Eileen Park told the paper that Wheeler "wants to weigh his options thoroughly and hear concerns from community leaders before making a decision."
The American Civil Liberties Union has come out against the notion of banning masks saying it would be a violation of rights under the First Amendment. Meanwhile, an unnamed Antifa member told The Journal such a law would unfairly target their group.
According to CNN, Antifa activists' "methods are often violent," and "admit they're willing to physically attack anyone who employs violence against them or who condones racism — as long as force is used in the name of eradicating hatred."
The purported anti-fascists have also taken up issues beyond racism, criticizing capitalism and the government.