(Update: Adding ACLU statement)
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Portland police were accused Sunday of being heavy-handed against people protesting a rally by extreme-right demonstrators, reportedly injuring some counter-protesters and prompting the city's new police chief to order a review of officers' use of force.
The head of the Oregon branch of the American Civil Liberties Union criticized the way the Portland Police Bureau handled Saturday's demonstrations.
"The Portland Police Bureau's response to protest is completely unacceptable in a free society," David Rogers said in a statement issued Sunday night. "The repeated use of excessive force, and the targeting of demonstrators based on political beliefs are a danger to the First Amendment rights of all people. We call on the Portland Police Bureau, Mayor Wheeler, and Chief Outlaw to immediately end the use of weapons, munitions, and explosives against protesters."
Saturday's clashes were the most recent of several this year in the city as right-wing militants converged, met by counter-protesters, including members of anti-fascist, or "antifa," groups. City officials have struggled with striking a balance between free speech and keeping events from spiraling out of control.
But on Saturday, some said police seemed to act mostly against those protesting the presence of the extreme-right demonstrators, using stun grenades and what appeared to be rubber bullets against them.
Police in riot gear tried to keep the two groups apart, many of whom had come on Saturday dressed for battle in helmets and protective clothing. Dozens of the extreme-right protesters were bused to Portland, one of America's most liberal cities, from nearby Vancouver, Washington.
Police Chief Danielle Outlaw, who assumed command less than a year ago as Portland's first African-American female police chief, said in a statement Sunday she takes all use-of-force cases seriously.
Outlaw directed the professional standards division to begin gathering evidence to determine if the force used was within policy and training guidelines. The Office of Independent Police Review will be provided with the information for review and investigation.