According to the Guardian, more than 400 far-right protesters showed up to the Portland rally. The protest was organized by the far-right groups Patriot Prayer and the Proud Boys, who do not explicitly refer to themselves as “alt-right” or white supremacist groups, but have been linked to the white supremacist movement.
The rally, officially titled the “Gibson for Senate Freedom March,” was tied to Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson’s political ambitions, as he prepares to run for the U.S. Senate in Washington State. Gibson has held rallies in the Pacific Northwest since 2017, the Huffington Post noted, which have reportedly been in support of President Donald Trump and the values of “free speech” and “patriotism.” The protests have become increasingly violent; the group’s previous Portland rally on June 30 was determined to be a “riot” by the city of Portland after protesters reportedly charged and physically assaulted anti-fascist counterprotesters.
More than 1,000 people took part in a counterprotest against the rally, which included anti-fascists, labor groups, community groups, members of the clergy and the Democratic Socialists of America, the Guardian reported. The counterprotesters included the group Popular Mobilization, which was formed specifically to counter Saturday’s protest.
According to the Huffington Post, counterprotesters chanted, “We remember Charlottesville,” and held signs detailing crimes that Portland Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer members have allegedly committed.
Despite initial fears the rally could be the most violent far-right rally since Charlottesville, potential violence was largely kept at bay during the charged protests. Oregon Live reported that a large police presence kept the two groups separated during the rally, though police reported collecting weapons from both sides.
According to Oregon Live, after protesters failed to disperse when ordered, police in riot gear rushed toward counterprotesters and fired flash-bang grenades and pepper bullets.
“Unfortunately, today, some people chose to commit illegal acts of violence, which required members of the Police Bureau to take action in order to keep all participants and non-participants safe,” Police Chief Danielle Outlaw said in a statement quoted by Oregon Live. “This was a dangerous situation for all those involved, including officers, and I am disheartened that this kind of illegal behavior occurred in our beautiful city.”
The police officers’ move on the counterprotesters resulted in cheers of “USA! USA!” and “Lock them up” from the far-right protesters, Oregon Live and the Guardian reported.
According to the Huffington Post, at least four counterprotesters were arrested during Saturday’s rally. While police told the Huffington Post that they were “not aware of anyone that received medical treatment for injuries suffered by actions of law enforcement today,” several protesters reported being injured by the police grenades.
“Police launched a violent attack on the left that was unprovoked in an attempt to allow Patriot Prayer and Proud Boys to go on their march,” Popular Mobilization spokesperson Effie Baum said, as quoted by the Huffington Post.
“When people say there was no violence today between the right and left, there was absolutely violence, and it was perpetrated by the police on the left.”
Journalist Eder Campuzano of the Oregonian also reportedly went to the hospital after being struck in the head by an object thrown by a counterprotester, and some Patriot Prayer protesters were found bleeding after walking through a crowd of anti-fascist protesters. Following the protest’s end, journalist Brendan O’Connor reported Proud Boys members had sprayed bear mace at anti-fascist protesters while driving out of town.