Two opposing groups showed up to a “Freedom and Courage” rally Saturday in downtown Portland, Oregon, and a riot broke out, reports CBS News. When neither side wanted to leave, Portland’s police department threatened arrests would come next. “More than 100 members of Patriot Prayer group gathered at Terry Schrunk Plaza for a ‘freedom rally,’ while more than 100 counter protesters with an Antifa group gathered across the street at Chapman Square for rallies before a march. Police revoked Patriot Prayer’s permit for the rally after the two groups began to clash.” The march was set to start at 6 p.m., and while the police had no problem with the peaceful protest aspect of it all when things took a turn towards criminal activity, they had to step in.
“People were lighting firecrackers and smoke bombs and throwing eggs and water bottles into the crowd. Police used aerial distraction devices, pepper spray and pepper balls in an effort to disperse the clashing protesters,” reports KOIN. Portland police told KOIN that they were prepared for issues to occur at the rally and planned to have a substantial police presence there, with cops taking the necessary precautions by donning their riot gear before the event even started.
After their permit was revoked, Patriot Prayer gathered their group at Terry Schrunk Plaza but the park was closed by the Federal Protective Service, who insisted that everyone had to leave. Those who still wanted to have an event headed to SW 3rd between SW Clay and Columbia. But trouble followed and after another clash occurred, so those who remained boarded a bus and left.
Patriot Prayer’s organizer, Joey Gibson, told KOIN, that the fighting was “good in terms that we showed that there’s a political move right now to have the police stand down in order to impact free speech in some of these big cities.” He saw Portland as one of the last cities on the west coast doing that so that’s why they keep doing this. “We’ll make Portland so ugly in terms of how they allow these protesters to charge us when we have a permit. The police stood down, we were told they would not stand down, so we have to challenge it.”
The last time this happened was back on June 3 where clashes happened in a demonstration near City Hall in Portland. That one ended with four arrests after the right-wing groups and Antifa clashed. In Saturday’s clash, a group called Eugene Antifa made a Facebook event, according to CBS News, where they gave their reason for doing what they do. “It is very important that antifascists keep up the pressure so that we can stop them once and for all.”