Police in Portland, Ore. declared a “civil disturbance” Saturday evening as members of far-right groups and far-left members of Antifa continued to skirmish hours after conducting dueling demonstrations in the center of the city.
Just after 4:30 p.m, Portland Police Bureau spokesperson Lt. Tina Jones said that anyone gathered near the intersection of SW Park Avenue and SW Morrison Street “must now leave the area immediately.” Jones added that the number of demonstrators was “dwindling” to about 400 people from a peak of around 1,200 people.
Authorities said at least 13 people were arrested but did not immediately release further details. Earlier in the day, police tweeted images of weapons it had seized from multiple groups, including bear spray, shields and metal and wooden poles.
Police said one injured person was taken to a local hospital, but no further information about the victim was released. Four others had been evaluated by Portland fire medics. All the injuries were considered to be minor. Another individual was treated for a medical condition unrelated to the demonstrations, Jones said.
Jones said that there had been “limited interactions” between individuals and called witnesses to submit information about potential criminal activity to the police.
Flag-waving members of the Proud Boys and Three Percenters militia group began gathering late in the morning, some wearing body armor and helmets. Meanwhile, black-clad, helmet and mask-wearing Antifa members were also among the several hundred people on the streets. The groups gathered on both sides of the Willamette River, which runs through the city.
Authorities used sound trucks and loudspeakers to remind demonstrators of both sides to stay out of the streets or they would be arrested. They also set up concrete barriers and closed streets and bridges in an effort to contain and separate the rival groups.
More than two dozen local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, were in the city for the right-wing rally, which was expected to draw people from across the country. Portland Police said all of the city’s 1,000 officers would be on duty for the gathering that was hyped on social media and elsewhere for weeks.
Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or Antifa. Also on hand were people dressed in colorful outfits and those who attended a nearby prayer service, holding signs that had slogans such as “No Trump, No NRA.”
Police formed a physical barricade beneath the Morrison Bridge in Tom McCall Waterfront Park to separate the rival groups from sparring. The Proud Boys and their supporters were on the south side of the divide while the counter-protesters remained on the north side, according to reports by The Oregonian.
KPTV and The Oregonian reported that some of the demonstrators began to leave in the early afternoon, with authorities briefly re-opening the Hawthorne Bridge to allow them to pass. Police used officers on bikes and in riot gear to prevent members of Antifa from following them. The Oregonian reported that a group of left-wing demonstrators attacked a bus carrying a group of Proud Boys out of downtown Portland, breaking some windows.
“The Proud Boys contacted us or contacted the units on the ground saying that they wanted to leave and so we facilitated for them to leave the area,” Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Brandon White told the newspaper. “It wasn’t planned. It wasn’t orchestrated. We had a request that they would like to leave the area and so we facilitated.”
Later in the afternoon, The Oregonian also reported that a group of left-wing counter-demonstrators had surrounded two people wearing American flag-themed clothing and were “taunting, threatening, and chasing them.”
Among those attending the demonstration was Patriot Prayer’s Joey Gibson, who organized similar rallies in 2017 and 2018 that erupted in clashes. Gibson surrendered Friday on an arrest warrant for felony rioting but was released on bail hours later.
“I’m just here for the ride,” Gibson told The Oregonian.
Organizer Joe Biggs told the paper that the demonstrators “wanted national attention and we got it.”
“Go look at President Trump’s Twitter,” Biggs said. “He talked about Portland, said he’s watching Antifa. That’s all we wanted … Mission success.”
President Trump tweeted Saturday morning that he is considering designating Antifa a domestic terror group.
“Major consideration is being given to naming ANTIFA an ‘ORGANIZATION OF TERROR,’” Trump said. “Portland is being watched very closely. Hopefully the Mayor will be able to properly do his job!”
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said the message to protestors on both sides is “We don’t want your hatred, we don’t want your violence, but if you come here, we’re going to be prepared,” he said in an interview on Fox News’ “Outnumbered Overtime” on Friday.
“Again, when it comes to enforcement of our community standards, we support people’s rights to demonstrate, but we don’t care about who you are or your politics are,” he said. “If you engage in violence in this city, you will be held accountable.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Source : Link