Right and Left-wing Factions Explode in Portland
Story by by Donna Millsap - The Oregon Herald
13 were arrested and at least one person was taken to the hospital with injuries. Police removed knives, shields and stun guns.
Mayor Ted Wheeler said he is pleased that police were able to keep the city safe while also helping to "protect the core American value of free speech."
Police said none of the injuries were caused by officers. There was one incident where police deployed pepper balls, authorities said.
Ahead of Saturday's rallies, Wheeler issued a video message stating, "if you're planning on coming here on Aug. 17 with the intent to commit violence, we don't want you here."
Jessyca Jones, a counterprotester who was on the streets on Saturday, said the environment was "tense" and that there had been "lots of fights."
At around 4:30 p.m. local time, and the Portland Police tweeted, "Police are having plastic water bottles thrown at them as they are making an arrest on SW Yamhill and Park." After that, police began advising people to clear the streets or face arrest.
"Police are advising this is now a civil disturbance. Crowd needs to leave the area and go Northbound on Park or any direction eastbound. This means everyone," Portland Police tweeted.
The city has been bracing for several militant right-wing groups to arrive in the city, along with scores of counter-protesters.
Slide 1 of 23: Police officers detain a protester against right-wing demonstrators following an "End Domestic Terrorism" rally in Portland, Ore., on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019. Although the main protest remained largely peaceful, some skirmishes erupted in the following hours and police detained multiple protesters. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Slide 2 of 23: PORTLAND, OR - AUGUST 17: A counter-protester holds up a sign during an alt-right rally on August 17, 2019 in Portland, Oregon. Anti-fascism demonstrators gathered to counter-protest a rally held by far-right, extremist groups. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
Slide 3 of 23: PORTLAND, OR - AUGUST 17: A person dressed as a unicorn dances in front of police officers during an alt-right rally on August 17, 2019 in Portland, Oregon. Anti-fascism demonstrators gathered to counter-protest a rally held by far-right, extremist groups. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
Slide 4 of 23: A man tussles with protesters against right-wing demonstrators following an "End Domestic Terrorism" rally in Portland, Ore., on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019. Although the main protest remained largely peaceful, some skirmishes erupted in the following hours and police detained multiple protesters. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Enrique Tarrio, national head of the Proud Boys, who describe themselves as an all-male "western chauvinist" group, and former InfoWars personality Joe Biggs, organized the "End Domestic Terrorism" rally on Saturday that started at 11 a.m. local time. Initially, the crowds moved in slowly, and were met by a heavy police presence, in which local police were bolstered by more than a dozen other law enforcement agencies.
Members of other far-right extremist groups, including the American Guard, the Three Percenters and the Daily Stormers, were also expected to attend in the hopes of declaring militant leftists, or anti-fascists known as "anitfa," a domestic terrorist group.
One right-wing militia group, Oath Keepers, disavowed the rally for fear of being associated with white supremacists.
"We do not believe the organizers are taking the steps necessary to ensure that white nationalist and suspected white nationalist groups and individuals will be excluded," said Stewart Rhodes, the group's founder, in a statement on its website.
Previous rallies featuring right-wing groups and antifa have turned violent in Portland, a city so closely associated with liberal hipsters it inspired the parody show "Portlandia."
Local authorities have beefed up security and have been joined by an array of other law enforcement agencies "on a scale that this city hasn't seen in years," Wheeler said.
It was unclear whether Joey Gibson, the leader of right-wing Patriot Prayer, attended the rally. He and five other men have been arrested this month, on charges stemming from a violent outburst on May 1 at Cider Riot, a bar that is a haven for the city's leftists. Videos of the May Day incident show men associated with the group unleashing pepper spray, fighting and striking people with batons.
He turned himself in to authorities and was bailed out on Friday.