PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Fistfights broke out in the blocks near Pioneer Courthouse Square as Portland police announced the protest between right-wing groups and anti-fascists became “a civil disturbance” at 4 p.m.
Antifa supporters sat down and blocked streets as right-wing groups approached. Soon, punches were thrown by protesters and police escalated their efforts at crowd control.
Loudspeakers were used to tell the crowd that they were subject to arrest if they did not comply with police orders.
At least 13 people have been arrested and one person taken by ambulance after being injured during a protest between right-wing groups and anti-fascists in downtown Portland.
PPB Lt. Tina Jones said in a Tweet that more than 1000 demonstrators clashed along the waterfront beginning around 10 a.m. By 1:45 p.m., she said, “at least 4 people” were arrested.
By 3:15 p.m, that number had risen to “at least 13.” Officials said 4 people were evaluated by Portland firefighters and one was taken to the hospital. All injuries were described as minor.
By 3:30 p.m., many protesters arrived at Pioneer Courthouse Square.
The right-wing groups split up, and one group of them — mostly the Proud Boys — made it to the east side of the Willamette River “and marched on Northeast MLK Boulevard,” she said.
One of those on the east side of the Willamette River was Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson — one day removed from being charged with felony riot — who waved an American flag and smiled broadly to his right-wing supporters.
“Various bridges across Portland may have protesters on them,” Jones said, and urged area residents to be aware of what is ongoing.
Earlier, PPB tweeted they “believe demonstrators are using info posted by media & observers to find opposing groups. In an effort to keep the various groups apart and maintain everyone’s safety, we respectfully ask reporters & others to avoid posting specific locations of protest groups.”
Antifa members used familiar chants — “Go home, Nazis!”, “No Trump, No KKK, no Fascist USA”, “Whose streets? Our streets!” — as the right-wing groups, led by the Proud Boys, marched along the waterfront and through the downtown streets.
Even though the Hawthorne Bridge is closed for the day, authorities allowed a group to cross the bridge. “Police are facilitating this to ensure safety of participants who wanted to leave the demonstration,” PPB tweeted, and then closed the bridge again.
But the protesters managed to get over to the east side of the Willamette River where Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson — one day removed from being charged with felony riot — waved an American flag and smiled broadly to his right-wing supporters.
But the bulk of the protesters remained in downtown Portland and began spreading into the city and away from the waterfront by 1 p.m.
Gibson was urged by police to leave the rally at 2:15 p.m. He complied, got into a car and drove away as antifa supporters watched.
Members of the Proud Boys were seen gathering at the Morrison Bridge around 9 a.m. and began marching south around 10 a.m. Around 10:30 a.m., some Proud Boys held a prayer meeting underneath a US flag as dozens of onlookers and media watched.
Then the Proud Boys began to cross the Morrison Bridge as members of antifa shouted, “Go home, Nazis.”
Protesters were told to get off SW Naito, the first warning to protesters from police in riot gear. Officials used loud speakers to repeatedly tell protesters there were no permits issued for this march and anyone not heeding their warnings is subject to arrest.
Around 11:45 a.m. at least one person was taken down by police. The police loudspeaker warning anyone interfering will also be arrested and that “riot control agents and impact weapons” will be taken.
By noon, police formed a line around the protesters and wouldn’t let them pass. Minutes earlier, authorities allowed a group to cross the Hawthorne Bridge, then closed the bridge again. “Police are facilitating this to ensure safety of participants who wanted to leave the demonstration,” PPB tweeted.
PPB tweeted, “Officers have seized weapons from multiple groups, including bear spray, shields, and metal and wooden poles.”
The demonstrators collided after highly-charged and inflammatory rhetoric on social media over the past few weeks and months in a protest of ideologies.
Far-right groups such as the Proud Boys, Three Percenters and Vancouver-based Patriot Prayerplus the neo-Nazi group Daily Stormers took over the waterfront in downtown Portland.
Steven Howard, a Vancouver resident who was the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi, told KOIN 6 News he will attend the protest on Saturday.
They were met by anti-fascists — aka, antifa — who have vowed to match the far-right’s “toxic masculinity” with “toxic masculinity” of their own.
No group has applied for a permit with the City of Portland for a march or rally.
One right-wing group, though, will not attend. Oath Keepers’ leader Stewart Rhodes announced Thursday they will not attend the rally because the organizers — Joe Biggs and the Proud Boys — haven’t done enough to “exclude known or suspected white nationalists from attending.”
City leaders, civic leaders and law enforcement have tried to get in front of this demonstration which has the real potential for violence.
In a pre-emptive move, officials closed the Hawthorne Bridge for Saturday, shut down SW 2nd between Madison and Main and put concrete barriers along SW Naito.
‘Don’t spread your hate’
Mayor Ted Wheeler told KOIN 6 News on August 6 “things will be different” for this demonstration.
Wednesday, Wheeler, PPB Chief Danielle Outlaw, elected officials, business leaders plus the Timbers and Thorns rallied at Pioneer Courthouse Square with one unified message: Don’t come to Portland to spread your hate.
And then on Friday, PPB Lt. Tina Jones held a press conference that listed the regional, state and federal agencies — including the FBI and Federal Protective Services — that are staged and ready for whatever takes place.
Chief Outlaw canceled anyone’s day off at PPB.
Portland police say they’ve been in contact with organizers on both sides in an effort “to achieve the goal of a safe event.”
This protest comes about 5 days after the 2nd anniversary of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that ended with the death of Heather Heyer at the hands neo-Nazi James Fields, who was sentenced life in prison plus 419 years.
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Glossary of Terms
Alt-Right: a right-wing, primarily online political movement or grouping based in the U.S. whose members reject mainstream conservative politics and espouse extremist beliefs and policies typically centered on ideas of white nationalism
Fascism: a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
neo-Nazi: a member of a group espousing the programs and policies of Hitler’s Nazis
Nazi: a member of a German fascist party controlling Germany from 1933 to 1945 under Adolf Hitler; one who espouses the beliefs and policies of the German Nazis : FASCIST; one who is likened to a German Nazi : a harshly domineering, dictatorial, or intolerant person
Antifa: a person or group actively opposing fascism, an anti-fascist movement