Portland rally: Proud Boys vow to march each month after biggest protest of Trump era
Portland saw its largest far-right demonstration of the Trump era on Saturday, as 500 rightwingers traveled from around the country to march back and forth across the city’s bridges, and briefly occupy a patch of its waterfront.
By making extensive accommodations for the unpermitted rightwing protest, including close police escorts, concrete barriers, and reopening a bridge to allow them to leave the downtown area, Portland authorities succeeded in preventing head-on confrontations between it and a much larger counter-protest.
The far right “end domestic terrorism” protest, organized by leaders in the “western chauvinst” Proud Boys fraternity, saw Trump supporters rub shoulders with more radical groups, including Three Percenters, a “patriot movement” militia group, and American Guard, who the Anti-Defamation League described as “hardcore white supremacists”.
In a statement after the rally, the Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio appeared to be promising to hold the city to ransom. On the group’s Telegram channel, a link was sent out to a Gateway Pundit story that quoted the chairman promising to come to Portland once a month, and saying: “Sooner or later, [Portland mayor Ted Wheeler] will run out of money and his counterparts in government will no longer take him seriously. The path forward for Mayor Wheeler is simple, free your city from the grip of Antifa, take direct and meaningful action.”
On Saturday, there was sporadic violence later in the day, and police declared a civil disturbance in trying to remove a group of mainly leftwing protesters blocking streets near the city’s central square. Elements of the counter-protest remained downtown for more than three hours after the departure of rightwing demonstrators.
Police said they made 13 arrests, and seized weapons throughout the day.
Donald Trump put pressure on city authorities early in the day with a characteristically explosive tweet. “Major consideration is being given to naming ANTIFA an ‘ORGANIZATION OF TERROR’,” the president wrote from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Saturday morning. “Portland is being watched very closely. Hopefully the Mayor will be able to properly do his job!”
Speaking to CNN, Portland mayor Ted Wheeler said of Trump’s tweet: “Frankly, it’s not helpful. 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 rightwing demonstrators did not remain in the city long.
At 10am a small group of protesters from the rightwing group Portland’s Liberation made their way through the area, without incident.
At 11am, a much larger group of about 500 rightwing protesters, mostly in Proud Boys colors, marched west across Morrison bridge and into the waterfront area, led by combat veteran and conspiracy broadcaster Joe Biggs, and Tarrio.
Police closed the main street parallel to the Willamette river and enforced a barrier about the size of a city block between the marchers and counter-protesters, using concrete barricades and lines of riot police.
When the Proud Boys arrived in the park, they knelt in prayer and sang the US anthem.
They spent just over half an hour on the city’s west side. The atmosphere was frequently tense. Six counter-protesters who managed to enter the protected enclosure were engaged in heated discussion by a large group of rightwingers. Men in masks emblazoned with American flags anxiously monitored the fringes of the group for “antifa” infiltrators.
Tarrio gave a speech in the park, in which he said of Mayor Wheeler: “He’s wasted police time, so we’re going to waste his resources today. In true Proud Boy fashion, we’re going to go to a secondary location.”
Just after 11.30am, the marchers started back over Hawthorne bridge, traveling east. Until then the bridge had been closed to traffic. “They opened the bridge just for us,” Tarrio told marchers through a bullhorn.
After crossing the river, the crowd milled around in the parking lot of a fire and rescue installation, under the I-5 freeway. The main group of rightwingers gradually dispersed.
A diverse counter-protest had been waiting for the group. Beginning at 9.30am, the protest featured Buddhist and Jewish prayers, speeches, a poop emoji costume parade organized by the PopMob group, and music.
Around 10am, Ed Mondaine, of the Portland chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), addressed the crowd, saying: “It’s time to stand up and annihilate bigotry.”
He called upon white allies to help with “fighting white nationalism” in “one of the whitest cities in America”, and concluded by leading a civil rights song, Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around.
The counter-protest also included a large group of masked antifascist protesters in “black bloc” attire. “Antifa” protesters of this kind were a focus of the right, and the protest was framed as a response to an incident at a previous rally on June 29th, when conservative writer, Andy Ngo, was milkshaked and punched by unidentified black bloc protesters.
“Antifa” is a collective term for a loose affiliation of anti-fascist groups. Such counter-protesters have clashed with far-right activists in the Oregon city throughout the Trump era, some wearing black bloc attire and face masks.
The Texas Republican Ted Cruz has proposed a Senate resolution that would designate antifa a domestic terrorist group and names Rose City Antifa, a prominent Portland group.
Several incidents took place after the main body of rightwingers left the city. According to reporters on the west side of the Willamette river, a school bus similar to one used by the rightwing Proud Boys group at previous events had its windows smashed and was pepper-sprayed by anti-fascists.
Video and photos of the incident appeared to show an occupant of the bus wielding a hammer which was then seized by an antifascist.
John Turano, also known as “Based Spartan”, and a familiar figure at rightwing rallies on the west coast in recent years, was seen on the east side arguing with other rightwingers about leaving, saying: “Antifa are over there.” Video showed Turano and his daughter later being driven out of the west side downtown area by a large crowd of counter-protesters.
Videos appearing to show other altercations were posted to social media.
Elsewhere, a familiar game of cat and mouse played out between police and counter-protesters on the east side of the river in the early afternoon, after some protesters marched over Burnside bridge. Police on bikes or armored cars followed as they hived off into smaller groups and dispersed. At least one arrest was made there, when police pulled a protester off their bicycle and cuffed them.
On the west side of the water, longtime rightwing protest leader Joey Gibson performed a lone last act in downtown Portland. A large group of counter-protesters followed him as he walked along through the streets of Old Town, chanting “Nazis go home”. After several heated interactions with his antagonists, Gibson was whisked away by three men in a gold Subaru.
Gibson had been at the center of events the previous day. He turned himself in to city authorities on an arrest warrant for a riot charge that he said was “without a doubt an assault on the first amendment”. “I have never been violent,” he said.
The 35 year old is one of six men associated with rightwing rallies in the city to be arrested or charged since 7 August, relating to a violent incident on 1 May at Cider Riot, a bar favored by the left.
Gibson claimed the charges were “completely political. This is Ted Wheeler doing everything he can because he’s been caught.” He accused Wheeler, a Democrat, of coordinating with and protecting anti-fascist demonstrators, a refrain in his speeches since 2017.
After being bailed out of Multnomah county jail overnight, he was present all day on Saturday, waving a large American flag.
Gibson has organized protests in Portland under the banner of the organization he founded, Patriot Prayer. Several have become violent. Critics have pointed to the presence at times of members of white nationalist groups such as Identity Evropa and the PDX Stormers. But above all, the events have been characterized by the presence of the Proud Boys.
During their brief stay in the park, Tarrio promised the group would continue return to Portland “every month”.
Antifa and Far-Right Groups Face Off in Portland as Trump Weighs In
Conservative groups are urging the United States to label Antifa a domestic terrorist group. President Trump said the city was “being watched very closely.”
PORTLAND, Ore. — About 1,200 people converged for a rally on Saturday at a waterfront park in Portland, Ore., where far-right groups faced off with anti-fascist counterprotesters and brought much of the downtown area to a standstill.
President Trump weighed in on the tense situation in Portland on Saturday morning, calling out the anti-fascist group known as Antifa on Twitter and suggesting support for designating it as a terror organization. He did not mention any of the right-wing groups, although both they and Antifa have a history of using violence against their opponents.
Many of the far-right demonstrators support a bill sponsored by Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, both Republicans, urging Congress to identify Antifa, short for anti-fascists, as a domestic terrorist group.
The rally was the latest in a series of vocal and at times violent political demonstrations in a city where protest is a rich tradition but where residents have grown increasingly weary of extremist saber-rattling on their streets.
For weeks, the police and local politicians have been urging protesters not to show up at all, and those who inevitably arrive to be peaceful. Officials and residents feared a melee like one in the city on June 29, when a conservative writer was assaulted by black-clad protesters.
On Saturday, a few confrontations broke out in the park as the rally began, but the far-right groups eventually moved behind a police line and were separated from the counterprotesters by a wide gap that officers worked aggressively to maintain.
Later, many of the right-wing protesters left the area and crossed the nearby Hawthorne Bridge to the east side of the city. But some stayed on the west side, and Antifa members followed them through the downtown streets shouting at them to leave the city. At least two of those walking with the militia members appeared to have been hit with white substances resembling milkshakes.
The Portland Police Bureau said 13 people were arrested. Officers intervened in occasional skirmishes at or near the park and seized a stun gun, bear spray, a shield, and metal and wooden poles from the protesters, the police said.
Officials declined to discuss whether the people arrested — on charges including disorderly conduct and unlawful use of a weapon — were affiliated with right-wing groups or with Antifa.
Six people sustained minor injuries during the protests, according to the police, with one sent to a hospital for treatment.
The rally itself was largely uneventful. But more fights broke out after the groups had dispersed and roved the downtown streets in smaller packs, with tense and sometimes bloody exchanges flaring up between demonstrators.
By late afternoon, the police declared the clashes a civil disturbance and began to clear the area around Southwest Park Avenue and Southwest Morrison Street, where a throng of protesters and bystanders had gathered.
At a news conference on Saturday night, Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland excoriated Joe Biggs, who formerly worked for the far-right conspiracy show “Infowars” and was one of the main organizers of the rally. He said Mr. Biggs was stoking fear and wasting taxpayer dollars on security measures.
“We do not want him here in my city, period,” Mr. Wheeler said, adding that white supremacists groups have been emboldened to spread their message of hate toward women, people of color and immigrants.
Mr. Wheeler added that Portland was “always going to be at or near ground zero when it comes to this battle” because of Oregon’s free-speech statutes.
A White House spokesman did not respond to an email seeking an explanation of Mr. Trump’s tweet, as well as why he chose to target Antifa and not others in the clashes.
But Mr. Trump has repeatedly sought to highlight incidents involving Antifa, and has accused the news media of not giving the group’s tactics enough coverage. He has often highlighted them amid criticism of the rhetoric used by white nationalists.
Which groups are demonstrating?
Far-right groups congregated at the south end of the park on Saturday morning. Some wore body armor and helmets, and at least one had a visible pocketknife and pepper spray, which he said were to be used “as a last resort.”
Among the other far-right groups were the Proud Boys, an all-male group whose members sometimes share racist or misogynist ideas, and who have fought with protesters before.
The most vocal promoter of the rally was Mr. Biggs, who said he had organized the rally in response to the beating of the conservative writer Andy Ngo in the clashes in June.
Many have blamed Antifa for the beating, which was captured on video. No one has been charged in connection with the assault, which the police are continuing to investigate.
Rose City Antifa, which is based in Portland and is one of the oldest and most organized Antifa groups, encouraged its followers to attend the rally.
The Portland police said they would use ‘whatever means necessary’ to curb violence
“To those people planning to come and inflict violence in our city: We don’t want you here,” Ted Wheeler, the mayor, said in a recorded admonishment this month. He warned that the police would use “whatever means necessary” to uphold the law.
The police and the mayor repeatedly said they would not target any political group, but rather seek to stop violence perpetrated by people of any viewpoint.
Joey Gibson, the leader of another conservative group, Patriot Prayer, which has organized similar rallies in the past, turned himself in to the Portland police on Friday after being charged with rioting in another clash in May. He appeared at the rally on Saturday.
Two members of the Proud Boys are on trial in New York after being charged with attempted assault in an attack on people believed to be members of Antifa. The Proud Boys also hosted a free speech rally in Washington D.C. in June, during which Antifa protesters clashed with police and some conservative demonstrators.
What would it mean to call Antifa a domestic terrorist organization?
The Antifa bill from Mr. Cassidy and Mr. Cruz is largely symbolic; there is no government list designating groups as domestic terrorist organizations, and the bill does not call on any federal agency to create one. It says simply that groups operating “under the banner of Antifa” should be labeled domestic terrorists.
The bill also asks the federal government to “redouble its efforts” to oppose domestic terrorism, including by white supremacists, and calls on the Senate to express “the need for the peaceful communication of varied ideas in the United States.”
The massacre in El Paso earlier this month, in which a gunman killed 22 people, brought renewed calls for the creation of a law specifically outlawing domestic terrorism after the police said the gunman had written a racist, anti-Latino manifesto.
While there is a federal crime outlawing “acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries,” there is no crime for domestic terrorism. People who are identified by police as domestic terrorists can be prosecuted for violating state or federal laws.
Why does this keep happening in Portland?
Opposing groups have faced off in Portland several times in recent years. Sometimes the protests turn violent.
Now used to the mayhem, residents and event planners in the city prepared accordingly. A five-kilometer run was moved from one side of the Willamette River to the other to avoid the protest, and the police posted a map on Twitter identifying a dozen other events that it said would not be affected by the demonstration.
Rallies are so common in Portland in part because it is a hub for anarchists and radical political groups, drawn to the city’s reputation of upholding the rights to free speech and protest.
Mike Baker reported from Portland, Ore., and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Neil Vigdor from New York. Maggie Haberman contributed reporting from New York.
Proud Boys Wander Lost Through Portland as Police Allow Wild Goose Chase by Antifascists
The Proud Boys and antifascists talked of little but each other all day. But they couldn't find each other.
The two groups wandered across downtown Portland this afternoon, but rarely encountered their adversaries, thanks to a police strategy that allowed the groups broad leeway to move along streets and sidewalks, so long as they remained far apart from each other.
So when the Proud Boys and their allies gathered north of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, the cops kept antifascists bottled at the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge. When a diminished contingent of the far right marched west across the Tilikum Bridge into the South Waterfront, police allowed antifa to stroll across the Burnside Bridge and wander among the warehouses of the Central Eastside.
The result? A game of cat-and-mouse that felt more like a Tom and Jerry cartoon—and kept the two groups more than a mile apart at all times, even as some said they wanted a confrontation.
Related: Proud Boys Scamper Across Portland Waterfront, But Police Keep Them Far From Antifascists
Police made 13 arrests, and the few moments of violence arrived mainly as the right-wing groups attempted to leave downtown in two small buses. Antifascists were seen on videos shattering the bus windows, and a right-wing protester appeared to attack the leftists from inside the bus with a hammer. (Because early videos were misleading, this post has been changed to explain who first wielded the hammer.)
Later, police clashed with frustrated leftists, arresting several and tackling at least one woman to the ground, drawing an angry crowd for a tense standoff near the Portland Outdoor Store.
Those moments will add to the highlight reel of right-wing groups who seek to portray Portland as a hotbed for leftist violence. But none of the mayhem feared in recent weeks occurred—a major triumph for Mayor Ted Wheeler and the Portland Police Bureau, who have been the subject of intense national scrutiny from the right-wing media.
Yet the visiting Proud Boys declared the day a victory, saying they had achieved their aim of draining Portland's law-enforcement resources. They pledged to return once a month until Wheeler "excises the alt-left groups from his city."
That grand rhetoric contrasts with what their day actually looked like: wandering, lost and anxious, through unfamiliar streets while warning each other antifa was coming.
After retreating east across the Hawthorne Bridge, many of the Proud Boys and their supporters got in their vehicles and drove away for a barbecue.
About 100 who had parked on the west side, however, were stuck. Police had closed the Hawthorne Bridge so they had to walk south past OMSI and across the Tilikum Bridge.
Passing cyclists and OMSI patrons jeered and flipped off the American flag toting marchers. Word filtered through that antifa was planning to intercept the group as it headed to west side parking garages. Marchers donned helmets and gloves but except for a couple of antifa scouts on bikes, no opposition materialized.
Dozens of police, both on bikes and riding on the outside of trucks and vans, accompanied the Proud Boy group as they proceeded north on Second Avenue. At the Burnside Bridge, a few critics argued briefly with Vancouver, Wash.-based protest organizer Joey Gibson.
When the group crossed into Old Town, Gibson stopped to address the crowd. As he did, a woman on a 750cc Harley Davidson motorcycle pulled up to the curb and drowned Gibson out by revving her engine. Police asked her to stop. She refused and several officers yanked her from her motorcycle and cuffed her.
That ended a remarkably peaceful protest at about 2:30 pm.
End Domestic Terrorism rally
2019 Proud Boys rally in Portland, Oregon, U.S.
Promotional artwork for the rally
|Date||August 17, 2019 (2019-08-17)|
|Venue||Tom McCall Waterfront Park|
|Location||Portland, Oregon, United States|
|Cause||To demand the classification of anti-fascism groups as domestic terrorists in the United States|
|Organized by||Proud Boys|
Peaking at 1,200 participants
|Arrests||13, for disorderly conduct, interfering with police, and weapon-related charges.|
The End Domestic Terrorism rally, sometimes subtitled "Better Dead Than Red", was a far-right demonstration organized by the Proud Boys and held in Portland, Oregon on August 17, 2019. The event, the purpose of which was to promote the idea that the "antifa" anti-fascist movement should be classified as "domestic terrorism", received national attention. The rally drew more counter-demonstrators than participants—with at least one group urging its members in advance not to attend—and ended with the Proud Boys requesting a police escort to leave.
The rally was organized by talk show radio host and former InfoWars staffer Joe Biggs, who is based in Florida, to protest Portland-based antifascists, and to have antifa declared a domestic terrorist organization.Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio, a two-time convicted felon, was listed as an organizer on the event's Facebook page. Tarrio said the Proud Boys did "not [come] to Portland to cause problems," but to support "innocent people, journalists and our brave law enforcement officers".
Plans for the rally were confirmed as early as July 1, 2019, after protests held on June 29 resulted in clashes.Viral video of an incident on June 29 where conservative blogger Andy Ngo was assaulted by masked demonstrators led the Proud Boys to organize the rally. The city did not issue a permit for the event, which was planned to be held at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Members of The Daily Stormer, and Oath Keepers were expected to attend. However, Oath Keepers backed out and "disavowed the rally for fear of being associated with white supremacists."
Members of Three Percenters militia, and the white supremacist American Guard, both designated as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, attended the event.
Biggs promoted the event by posting a video online in which he carries a "Trump-themed" baseball bat and t-shirt with the text "Training to Throw Communists Out of Helicopters", in reference to the summary execution of political dissidents in Chile under Augusto Pinochet's military dictatorship. He told participants not to bring weapons or fight unless they were in "imminent danger".
The president of Oath Keepers discouraged members from attending the rally or associating themselves with white nationalists.
Portland mayor Ted Wheeler announced a "zero-tolerance approach" would be adopted and promised law breakers would be arrested. Organizers on both sides criticized his handling of the planned activities. Wheeler considered asking Governor Kate Brown to seek support from the Oregon National Guard.
Danielle Outlaw, chief of the Portland Police Bureau, said officers were prepared, and the president of the Portland Police Association proposed arresting all people who demonstrate without a permit. Police worked with organizers on both sides "to achieve the goal of a safe event". The Portland Police Bureau said in advance of the rally that all 1,000 of its officers would be on duty. Federal, state, and other local law enforcement agencies provided assistance to prepare for the rally.
Leading up to the rally, Biggs advocated for laws preventing protesters from wearing masks, and said, "I hope at the end of the day I can shake the cops' hands and say good job, nothing happened." Six members of Patriot Prayer, including political activist Joey Gibson, were arrested days before the event.
The Portland Police Bureau encouraged people to avoid Waterfront Park and visit other parts of the city. The Federal Bureau of Investigation planned to have a presence at the rally. Deployment of the National Guard was considered but avoided.
Leaders of civil rights, community, and religious groups condemned the event's organizers and ideology, and approximately 100 people gathered at Pioneer Courthouse Square on August 14 to speak out against violence.Jo Ann Hardesty said, "You want to be hateful, stay home. Do not get on a plane, on a bus and come to Portland. We don't want you here. We never wanted you here. If you come, we will expose you to the light of day." Wheeler, Outlaw, U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams, and Joey Webber of the Portland Timbers also attended the August 14 rally.
President Donald Trump monitored developments and tweeted, "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!" Wheeler responded, "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... 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." According to Business Insider, "The president's remarks quickly drew scrutiny for siding with the far-right."
Antifascist groups made plans to counter-protest. Popular Mobilization hosted "The Spectacle" to "downplay the far-right's rhetoric and inject the atmosphere with whimsy and 'joyful resistance'"; planned activities included a banana costume dance party, mask decorating, and dressing as the Pile of Poo emoji.Rose City Antifa issued a statement calling on counter-protestors to defend the city from a "far-right attack". Miles Thompson and his Unpresidented Brass Band, a 12-person marching band, planned to march with 50 counter protesters in banana costumes, hosting a "Banana Bloc Dance Party". Counter-protesters also organized a fundraiser to benefit Causa, based on the number of rally supporters; according to HuffPost, the organization "advocates for Oregon's Latino population at the state and national level, and helps protect local undocumented immigrants from deportation".
Members of Proud Boys started gathering at the Morrison Bridge at approximately 9 am, then started marching south an hour later. They held a prayer service underneath an American flag at Waterfront Park at approximately 10:30 am. Officers maintained distance between opposing groups, keeping members of Proud Boys and other right-wing groups south of the Morrison Bridge and counter-protesters north of the bridge. Later, members of Proud Boys marched over Tilikum Crossing while counter-protesters crossed the Burnside Bridge. The demonstration was over by approximately 2:30 pm.
Crowd estimates varied. CBS News and the Portland Mercury reported there were 200 and 300 people attending in support of the rally, respectively. There were approximately 500 counter-demonstrators, according to Willamette Week. Police estimated there were approximately 1,000 protesters, and the Portland Mercury's Alex Zielinski wrote, "At its peak, there were an estimated 300 right-wing protesters and 1,000 left-wing protesters in downtown Portland."
The event remained mostly calm. Police arrested 13 people, and confiscated weapons, including bear spray, poles, and shields.
Gibson attended the rally. The president of the local NAACP affiliate was among the counter-protesters.
According to Al Jazeera, "More than two dozen local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the Federal Protective Service ... gathered in Portland to help police monitor the right-wing rally." The Proud Boys pledged to return to Portland monthly until Wheeler "excises the alt-left groups from his city".
Some local businesses changed plans or closed for the day because of the demonstrations. Roses on the River, a 5K run and walk affiliated with the Portland Thorns FC, was relocated to the other side of the Willamette River to avoid potential conflicts. The Portland Streetcar Scavenger Hunt was postponed. Multiple Starbucks locations in downtown Portland closed for the day.Kells Irish Pub cancelled its annual "Summer Smoker" amateur boxing match. Two performances at Keller Auditorium took place as scheduled, but the venue hired increased security.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation closed the northbound side of Southwest Naito Parkway from 9 am to 4 pm on the preceding Friday and following Monday. Prior to the event, TriMet said services would be altered as needed if law enforcement determined riders were at risk, and confirmed delays were expected. On the day of the rally, Southwest 2nd Avenue from Southwest Madison to Main streets was closed, as were the Hawthorne Bridge and SmartPark garage at 1st Avenue and Jefferson Street.
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Protest august 17 portland
Hundreds clash in Portland as Proud Boys rally descends into violence
A rightwing protest in Portland on Sunday has culminated in a gunfight, when antifascist demonstrators returned fire at a man who shot at them with a handgun in a downtown street.
The firefight took place in downtown Portland, Oregon, soon after 6pm. As antifascists followed a man at a distance whom they were trying to eject from the area, he took cover behind a solar-powered trashcan, produced a handgun and opened fire. He fired at least two shots before an antifascist returned fire with their own handgun. At least seven shots were fired.
Portland police bureau confirmed that a man had been arrested over the shooting but did not have any information on any injuries.
The incident came after a day of protest descended into running clashes involving hundreds of protesters and counterprotesters.
Earlier that afternoon, in the city’s suburban east, Proud Boys discharged rounds from airsoft guns, while antifascists threw firework munitions, and both sides exchanged clouds of choking Mace and countless blows in a chaotic running street battle that lasted the better part of an hour.
The earlier confrontation, which began around 4pm in the carpark of an abandoned Kmart where about 200 members of far-right groups had staged a rally billed as a “summer of love” event, later spilled out onto a busy arterial road and the carpark of nearby Parkrose high school.
It began when a group of around 30 antifascists – almost all clad in “black bloc” attire – walked past the rightwing rally at 4pm and Proud Boys gave chase. The forecourt of a neighboring gas station and a convenience store were soon racked by explosions and gas-propelled airsoft projectiles.
The two sides briefly disengaged at about 4.15pm, and street medics on both sides attended to participants who had been beaten, shot or overcome by Mace.
Soon, however, traffic was intermittently brought to a halt on busy NE 122nd Ave as the renewed battle stretched across the street and into the grounds of the high school.
There, Proud Boys set upon a small pickup truck, smashing windows, slashing tires, scattering the vehicle’s cargo of bottled water and severely beating the male occupant.
When antifascists retreated from the carpark, Proud Boys erupted into chants of “Whose streets? Our streets!”
Back at the carpark, another vehicle was turned on its side and spraypainted with the letters “FAFO”, an acronym for the Proud Boys catch cry, “fuck around and find out”.
Returning from the high school at about 5pm, Proud Boys began to leave the rally venue. From a red pickup truck men fired airsoft guns at a small number of antifascists gathered at the entrance of the carpark, and then one of them trained his weapon at a group of reporters.
The Proud Boys announced their intention to cross the Columbia River, and the Washington state line, to regroup at a city park in Vancouver.
Even before the black-clad group arrived, the rally had already departed from its avowedly peaceful intentions after Proud Boys and other participants streamed away from the speakers platform – bedecked with a giant American flag and an 8ft replica of the Statue of Liberty – to confront a group of three women who were waving placards opposing the protest.
In downtown streets, and during the suburban fracas, Portland police were nowhere to be seen, until the exchange of fire near 2nd Street and Taylor brought forth dozens of officers in cruisers, who arrested the suspected gunman and blocked surrounding streets.
Asked about their absence in the Parkrose confrontation, a spokesperson for the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) repeated in an email the advice that police chief Chuck Lovell had given in the days leading up to the clashes.
“As the chief stated before the event today, people should keep themselves apart and avoid physical confrontation,” the spokesperson wrote, adding that arrests may not be made in the moment, and may come in succeeding days.
Mayor urges protesters to ‘choose love’
The 2pm rightwing rally in the city’s outer north-east had been moved from its original venue on downtown Portland’s waterfront to its suburban location after antifascists began publicly mobilizing to oppose it.
Many of those antifascists maintained their focus on the original planned location for the rightwing rally on Portland’s downtown waterfront, with around 200 attending the site.
While those activists were watchful but mostly peaceful in the early afternoon, at the fringes of the event, some people who fell under activists’ suspicion were confronted. One man on a bicycle was Maced, and two street preachers from Kent, Washington, were chased from the vicinity of the park.
On Sunday, many proud boys were open-carrying handguns and armed with batons, bottles of chemical spray and baseball bats, while at least one man carried a pickaxe handle emblazoned with the Proud Boys insignia.
In the lead-up to the rallies, Portland mayor Ted Wheeler, other elected officials and a number of progressive nonprofits urged protesters to “choose love” in a virtual rally and press conferences.
One of those nonprofits is the Western States Center. In a press release issued after the day’s events, that organization’s executive director, Eric Ward, demanded that “elected leaders from our neighboring jurisdictions, our state and our federal government” assist in helping Portland deal with the far-right incursions into the city which have recurred since the beginning of the Trump era.
“The idea that Portland, or any city, can single handedly defeat white nationalism is a fallacy,” Ward added.
Portland protests: live updates
Civic leaders and law enforcement are bracing for several groups of protesters to take to downtown Portland on Saturday for a planned right-wing rally and left-wing counterprotest that have been advertised for weeks. Here’s what you need to know.
What, exactly, is going to happen?
It’s hard to say. Portland’s largest protests tend to be roving, unpredictable affairs.
But here’s what we know:
Two Florida men with large followings in the right-wing movement are holding an “End Domestic Terrorism” rally Saturday at 11 a.m. in Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
An organizer said he expects up to 1,000 people show up for the event, which seeks to draw like-minded people from around the country as a show of force against self-described anti-fascists, or antifa.
Rose City Antifa, Portland’s homegrown, amorphous band of anti-fascist activists, is calling on supporters to turn out in opposition to the rally.
Myriad other events are scheduled, which are expected to draw hundreds of peaceful counter-protesters.
Who’s going to be there?
Former InfoWars staffer Joe Biggs is organizing the right-wing rally, and he’s getting help from Enrique Tarrio, national head of the Proud Boys.
Portlanders should expect a sizable showing of Proud Boys — whose members describe themselves as “Western chauvinists” and who often express disdain for Islam, feminism and liberal politics — and other right-wing figures.
They should also expect a large contingent of left-wing counterprotesters, including anti-fascists and other social justice activists at the center of Portland’s protest movement.
Joey Gibson — leader of right-wing Patriot Prayer, which has drawn widespread opposition during previous Portland demonstrations — has said he’s uncertain whether he will attend Saturday’s event.
Neither Gibson nor Patriot Prayer have been involved in promoting or organizing Saturday’s rally, and Gibson has largely shied away from demonstrations in Portland since being sued for his participation in a clash between right- and left-wing groups May 1 at Portland bar Cider Riot.
Gibson on Thursday announced that he was facing a felony riot charge in connection with the May Day incident. He told radio host Lars Larson that he was planning to turn himself in to authorities. As of 8 p.m. Thursday, authorities had not announced whether Gibson had turned himself in.
Some of Gibson’s supporters have launched an online fundraiser to help him with legal fees. As of Thursday evening, they had raised more than $5,000.
Gibson is the latest in a string of right-wing activists who have been arrested in the past week on felony riot charges related to the May Day brawl. Ian Kramer and Matthew Cooper were arrested on Aug. 7 and 8. Cooper was subsequently released. The two face charges related to beating a woman on the head with a baton — the alleged attack left her unconscious. On Aug. 13 and 14, Christopher Ponte and Mackenzie Lewis were arrested. Police and the district attorney’s office would not elaborate on the specific roles Ponte and Lewis allegedly played in the May 1 incident.
On Thursday, Cooper was arrested again, and another right-wing activist, Russell Schultz, was also arrested.
Oregon law states that a person can be charged with the crime of riot “if while participating with five or more other persons the person engages in tumultuous and violent conduct and thereby intentionally or recklessly creates a grave risk of causing public alarm.”
Conservative writer Andy Ngo, who was attacked by black-clad demonstrators in Portland earlier this summer, has not publicly said whether he plans to be at the demonstrations.
Video footage of the attack racked up millions of views online, generated days of national headlines and has helped create a surge of interest in Saturday’s rally.
What are police going to do?
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Chief Danielle Outlaw have promised a large turnout by police and have vowed to use the full force of the law against those who commit acts of violence and vandalism. City officials have also been working with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to secure the officers and equipment necessary to respond.
The mayor and chief also have gone on video and given interviews, pledging to do what it takes to keep the city safe during the demonstration and urging trouble-seeking participants to stay away from Portland.
How’s this affecting downtown commerce?
Several events have been moved or canceled, and police are encouraging Portlanders to spend time other parts of the city Saturday.
Terrapin Events, for example, moved the planned Roses on the River 5k walk/run from the west side of the river to the east side, in anticipation of a melee Saturday.
The Portland Streetcar Scavenger Hunt, which was also scheduled for Saturday, has been postponed.
At least one downtown Portland Starbucks shop plans to close Saturday, as well.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation said it will close northbound Southwest Naito Parkway from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Monday, to allow crews to prepare before and after Saturday’s events. Northbound traffic will turn west onto Southwest Jefferson Street or east onto the Hawthorne Bridge.
TriMet, for its part, has said it’s working with law enforcement to maintain service during the protest. The transit agency said it will “adjust service” if police determined a particular area is unsafe and advised riders to be prepared for possible delays.
Riders should plan extra time for their trips, even if they’re not traveling in downtown Portland, TriMet said.
Why is this happening in Portland, of all places?
That’s the million-dollar question.
Cities across the U.S. have seen street skirmishes erupt between right- and left-wing groups since President Donald Trump entered the White House, yet Portland has emerged as one of the most contested centers in the country’s culture wars.
Fanning the flames is the zeitgeist of incendiary political rhetoric, including recent remarks by Trump, that has deepened divisions and resentment as partisan lines harden nationwide.
But a large share of the turmoil is Portland’s alone. Its long legacy of left-wing activism, notably its militant anti-fascists, has drawn the ire of the conservative movement as well as the pundits and politicians who lead it.
Meanwhile, the city’s liberal free speech tradition has allowed the bitter confrontations to continue while police struggle to keep the peace.
Wheeler acknowledges Portland’s protest tradition as a robust form of political expression, but he believes it’s been co-opted lately by people more interested in simply causing trouble than having any cogent discourse.
And in picking a fight with antifa, they’ll get one.
“I think they come to Portland because it gives them a platform,” Wheeler said. “They know that if they come here conflict is almost guaranteed.”
—Jim Ryan, Shane Dixon Kavanaugh and Jayati Ramakrishnan
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Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said he wants city police to do whatever it takes to ensure that an Aug. 17 rally does not end in rampant violence.
In a video released Wednesday, Wheeler said city leaders have received information that some people are coming to spread hate and start fights at what organizers are billing as a free speech rally. Such rallies have ended in chaos and brawls between opposing protesters in the past, and police have faced criticism for not preventing the violence or responding faster.
Wheeler and Police Chief Danielle Outlaw have both said that this event will be different. In his video, Wheeler noted the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, and said he has given the police clear orders. He didn't specify precisely what steps he wants police to take, but did say he plans to make sure Outlaw and her team have the personnel they need.
"To those people planning to come and inflict violence in our city: We don’t want you here," he said. "This is why I’ve empowered and directed the Portland Police Bureau to use whatever means necessary and amass whatever resources necessary to uphold the law."
Wheeler said he’s seeking help from other law enforcement agencies across the region to build a large coalition of police for Aug. 17. He's also promising to push prosecutors to make sure people who do break the law face criminal charges.
Organizers of the Aug. 17 event have written on social media of potential violence and talked about carrying weapons. Some activists and members of Antifa have promised to oppose them.
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