4 arrested during violent clashes in downtown Portland
Violence erupted in downtown Portland after a goodbye party for a prominent conservative activist transformed into a clash between the left and the right.
Fists flew, stones were hurled, fireworks crackled and stinging liquid was sprayed as protesters and counter-protesters taunted each other under the supervision of riot police, who did their best to keep both sides separated.
"I'm standing up for free speech. I'm an American patriot," explained a man calling himself Rufio Panman, who drove to the event from Washington State. "We've tried to debate, we've tried to have the conversation... They don't seem interested."
Police said four people were arrested during the event and that they used pepper spray twice. One man wearing black was detained near the corner of Southwest Jefferson and Second Street after pepper spray was loosed indiscriminately during a scrum. A man with a bloody face was also walked off by police after a dispute over a hat turned into a fistfight.
While sedate speeches earlier in the day only drew a few dozen leftists to Lownsdale Square, the number of black-clad anti-fascists ballooned as word spread that members of the right-wing Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer groups had arrived at around 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 3.
Terry Schrunk Plaza served as the center of the hubbub, but attendees spent much of the afternoon marching in circles up and down the blocks of downtown. Law enforcement followed close behind, sometimes hitching a ride by clinging onto a van with a metal bar attached to it.
Department of Homeland Security officers searched the bags of everyone who entered the plaza, so many people in the crowd stayed just outside the perimeter.
For instance, the two groups repeatedly lined up on both sides of Southwest Madison Street near the corner with Fourth Avenue, hurling taunts. At one point, some of the conservatives shouted the Pledge of Allegiance while some of the leftists yelled "Proud Boys drink [urine]." Several flags were burned.
It was certainly a raucous send-off for Tusitala "Tiny" Toese, a rather big man who has helped shape the local right-wing movement but is now returning to Samoa to attend to "family matters."
"We got to think smart. There's always another day to take a stand. But we proved our point," he said in a farewell address to his supporters. "When I leave I want you guys to keep standing."
Members of the anti-fascists, commonly called Antifa, called out criticisms of the police, sometimes referencing a recent police shooting at a homeless shelter that left a man with a knife dead. The Antifa appeared to outnumber the Proud Boys by a margin of at least 3 to 1.
Daniel Adams — a local chemist who said he is friendly with Tiny but not affiliated with his group — said he supported the "Make America Great Again" message espoused by President Donald Trump.
"This city is dying," Adams noted. "Everybody is leaving because people are defecating in the streets."
The rumpus had simmered by about 7 p.m., with both sides declaring victory before scattering. Police say no officers were injured and that no one at the protest was taken to the hospital.
Here's who was arrested:
• Jonathan D. Feit, 36, was arrested near Southwest 2nd Avenue and Southwest Columbia Street on charges of Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree
• Andrew Arbow, 32, was arrested at Terry Schrunk Plaza on charges of Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree
• Gregory N. Isaacson, 43, was detained at Terry Schrunk Plaza, cited and released for Failure to Comply with a Lawful Order.
• Bryan A. Neyman, 26, was arrested on four counts of Assault in the Fourth Degree and one count of Robbery in the Third Degree.
Need more information? Here's a previous update written by our reporter at the scene:
Portland's opposition movement gathered for an anti-police protest in downtown Portland — though the somewhat subdued mood was a far cry from the larger demonstrations that took place about one year ago.
About one hundred people gathered by 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 3 at Terry Schrunk Plaza for the protest across from City Hall on Southwest Madison Street.
Some of those in attendance appeared to be legal observers or independent media members, though others wore the black masks and bandanas that have become a trademark of the anti-fascist movement known as Antifa.
Anarchist Star Stauffer said she had a simple message for the police officers gathered a few blocks away: "Back off."
"There are ways to circumvent needing conventional policing in our community," the 35-year-old commented. "Our are voices really so threatening that you need to be armed like you're going into war? The only weapons we have our are voices."
A spokesman for Portland Police said they were aware of the planned "peaceful exercise of the First Amendment" and also knew that Patriot Prayer, a far-right group, were planning on gathering by 5 p.m., risking the chance of a heated confrontation between the two sides.
"Law enforcement will be present due to previous incidents of violence between the various groups," the Bureau said in a statement.
At one point, several police officers not dressed in riot gear entered the park, spurring angry chants from the protesters.
"We're here to protect everyone," Sgt. K. Allen said before withdrawing.
Gregory McKelvey, a well-known activist leader with Portland's Resistance, said he wasn't surprised by the relatively low turnout.
"People are numb to it now — the people who have the privilege to be numb to it," he told the Tribune.
Members of the audience clapped and cheered, some following along with a vulgar chant based off the acronym ACAB. Signs draped nearby read "Care Not Cops," "Blue Lives Murder" and "We Live On Stolen Land."
"I came because there's a lot of messed up stuff happening," said audience member Katrina Swope, 24. "The brutality extends to stuff that doesn't make it into the news."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.