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Story by Sandra Blodget - The Oregon Herald
Published on Monday September 28, 2020 - 2:27 AM

PORTLAND, Oregon - After peaceful protests in Portland, demonstrations turned violent as darkness once again fell Saturday. Police then declared a downtown gathering unlawful and made several arrests.

Around 8:30 p.m. Saturday, several hundred demonstrators converged on Lownsdale and Chapman squares, across the street from the Multnomah County Justice Center building that houses the Portland Police Bureau. They began blocking a nearby intersection.

500 members of the right-wing Proud Boys gathered in Portland and soon police announced the first bout of violence with an assault on a black man who was livestreaming the demonstration.

The incident came after the Proud Boys, who organized the demonstration in Delta Park, repeatedly stoked fears about anti-fascist activists, commonly known as "antifa," seeking to stir up trouble.

Rally participants directed most of their ire at independent journalists instead.

The livestreamer who came under attack was followed by rally attendees along with an independent photojournalist, Zackary Perry, as they attempted to leave the park, Perry told The Daily Beast. He identified the livestreamer only by his first name, Jovanni.

The attack was caught on video, which showed a man shoving the livestreamer down and kicking him in the face. It was not immediately clear what preceded the assault. Police took to Twitter to ask any witnesses to come forward.

The rally goers "started bringing up a lot of typical anti-antifa talking points," Perry said, "like "you guys are burning down the city.'"

A rally participant then punched Jovanni several times, according to Perry, before throwing him against a fence, kicking him in the head, and punching Perry twice. Videos posted to Twitter confirm most of this account.

Although neither journalist was seriously injured, the alleged assailant threw Jovanni's phone over the fence, where it was recovered by rally attendees. According to Perry, the phone was unlocked at the time, and Jovanni, who was treated by medics onsite and was unavailable for comment in the wake of the assault, fears that this might enable retaliation from right-wing groups.

As Jovanni and Perry left the scene, another independent photojournalist covering the scene, Justin Katigbak, was assaulted by the same rally participant, Perry said.

The violence came after Proud Boys members repeatedly suggested they were somehow under siege by antifa.

One member of the Proud Boys, who did not identify himself publicly, interrupted the speakers to inform the crowd that "a group of livestreamers from antifa" was approaching the rally. "They are going to try to instigate," he told the crowd. "Don't touch them. Don't fuck with them."

But even as he shared this message, at least half of the crowd began moving in the direction of the park entrance, some carrying firearms, others equipped with paintball guns.

When the rumored anarchist broadcasters failed to appear, the crowd became distracted by a limousine emblazoned with the name of "American Wolf," a regional far-right group, and a U-Haul in the parking lot. Protesters began handing out shields in preparation for a potential confrontation with leftist protesters.

A poster that made the rounds ahead of the rally urged people to "do it for Jay," a reference to Aaron Jay Danielson, a supporter of the far-right group Patriot Prayer who was fatally shot in late August by a self-proclaimed anti-fascist. Police later shot the gunman, Michael Reinoehl, as they moved to arrest him.

A friend of Danielson's, Chandler Pappas, took to the stage at Saturday's rally and insisted, without evidence, that nearly a dozen people had been involved in Danielson's killing. He went on to blame Oregon Democratic Governor Kate Brown and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler for Danielson's death.