Things turned violent over the weekend during the Portland protests. Oregon authorities arrested several demonstrators as Donald Trump supporters and members of the alt-right movement clashed with anti-fascist protesters.
According to Huffington Post, Sunday marked a day in which protesters from opposing sides expressed aggression. As a consequence, police deployed riot tactics to keep things from spiraling out of control.
In the wake of the Oregon fatal stabbings of two, Portland served as “ground zero” for expressions of faith, pain, anti-hatred and healing. The protests at the “Trump Free Speech Rally” took a turn as a crescendo of support for the president’s policies emerged.
Patch’s live blog reported that a contingency of armed law enforcement tried in vain to keep pro- and anti-Trump demonstrators at bay in Shrunk Plaza. The city has a task force of officers from Homeland Security (DHS), city police, Federal Protective Service, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, the United States Attorney’s Office, Multnomah County District, the Portland Fire & Rescue, and members from the Attorney’s Office.
Earlier, Sgt. Peter Simpson, a police spokesman, said that there would be a “robust law enforcement presence due to online threats of violence between different groups.”
“Due to these threats and the potential for violence, persons attending any of the events are discouraged from bringing any weapons (firearms, knives, etc.) or items that can be used as weapons (sticks, bats, poles, rocks, fireworks/incendiary devices, etc.) to any of the events.”
At some point, officers raced to block off access to Chapman Square. The location was a staging ground for anti-fascists. Police deployed non-lethal devices like concussion grenades and tear gas to establish crowd control. A spokesperson said the tactics were used when unknown suspects hurled objects at officers.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) June 5, 2017
Not long after, protesters began an unplanned and non-permitted march from Portland’s City Hall. They focused their attention on major arteries in and out of the city. Police arrested an unknown number of people and formed a human barrier using batons.
Many people fled from hiding places as police established control using chemical irritants. Many protesters complained of burning eyes and seared nostrils. Portland police say officers confiscated bricks, knives, and construction tools used to attack law enforcement.
Noted alt-right personality, Pat “Based Spartan” Washington, was seen at the Portland protests. As the evening drew near, he was seen leaving the area for the day, according to witnesses. Earlier, he was seen among Trump supporters dressed in military gear and bearing Nazi symbols, as Patch described.
— CNN (@CNN) June 5, 2017
“The Trump rally was already expected to attract alt-right figures from out of state ― some of whom are straight up neo-Nazis ― but rumors that the demonstrators would be exercising their right to carry guns prompted local activists to reconsider and had all sides preparing for war. Mayor Ted Wheeler’s attempt to revoke a permit for the rally was declined by the federal government.”
On May 26, a known white supremacist attacked and killed two men who intervened when he was allegedly verbally assaulting a woman for “being” a Muslim. Police arrested the suspect for the hate-filled slashings and are investigating a possible hate crime link.
Joey Gibson is the organizer for the Trump rally over the weekend and the one where Jeremy Joseph Christian was making Nazi salutes back in April. He addressed Sunday’s crowd of Trump supporters and protesters.
“Portland I mean no disrespect, but you have gotten crazy out here. You’re sitting here in a bubble and we’ve been on the outside looking in, but no more.”
Media sources say locals have expressed fear of a clash for several weeks.
“This is a city with a white terror crisis and a storied history of racist confrontation. Sunday was a flashpoint in a decades-old fight.”
[Featured Image by Scott Olson/Getty Images]