Mayor Wheeler takes 'leash off police,' Joey Gibson says
Members of a conservative protest movement made a mad dash to their cars — happy hour at the Vancouver waterfront their stated destination — but were unable to avoid Portland counter-protesters once they left the safety of a designated protest area under heavy police guard.
After departing from Terry Schrunk plaza, black-robed members of Antifa shadowed the conservatives from across the sidewalk for several blocks before heading off the right-wing column at Southwest Columbia Street and Third Avenue around 4 p.m.
Squaring off for the first time without a police cordon between them, people standing in the crowd of Antifa members appeared to throw a beer bottle, a partially-filled water bottle, a pink smoke grenade, as witnessed by a Tribune reporter and according to video accounts.
"Nazis go home!" the left-wing protesters chanted.
Portland Police Bureau officers wearing riot gear soon parted the mob, ordering the crowd to disperse via an amplified sound truck and tossing a "flash-bang" style grenade into the fray. Some of the items were chucked back and forth by both sides.
While the "#HimToo" style rally was not officially associated with the Patriot Prayer group that has spurred regular street brawls in downtown Portland, many of the usual suspects were present, including the organization's leader: Joey Gibson.
"It looks like (Mayor) Ted Wheeler may have taken the leash off the police," Gibson said before leaving the safety of the plaza, where federal police searched the bags and visually inspected the clothing of everyone who entered.
More than a dozen speakers intoned stories of allegedly false rape accusations and a feminist movement they say has gone too far during the conservative rally running from 2 p.m. to just before 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17.
Haley Adams, who organized the protest, said her goal was "for men to rise up, speak out."
"A lot of people asked me if Patriot Prayer is going to ruin the name of Him Too. (I said) I don't think so," she noted.
Adams said she wished more of the Antifa members had entered her rally and spoken with the crowd of roughly 40 people.
"I think that's their right to free speech," she said. "I'm not mad at them."
"They're weaponizing the #MeToo movement," added Jen Loh, who flew out from Texas to attend the event. "You can't crucify someone in the court of public opinion."
Social media accounts suggested at least one person was arrested earlier in the day, though Portland Police did not immediately confirm that report.
While many of the #HimToo attendees had announced their plans to gather in Vancouver, Washington by 6 p.m. for drinks, crowds of Antifa continued to cluster downtown by 5 p.m.
Many in the crowd appeared confused by recent news of a failed protest ordiance floated by Mayor Wheeler, with some saying police had no right to confine them after the proposal did not find the votes to pass at City Hall.
"No way, the ordinance didn't pass," one woman said. "Are you seriously going to arrest people for standing on the sidewalk?"
In a post on social media, Mayor Wheeler said there was "misinformation" circulating about his proposal.
"Closing a portion of the park in the interest of public safety is an existing tool under the City Code, and we can use it here because of the location of the planned demonstrations," he wrote. "The ordinance would have allowed for more tools for use outside of a park that don't already exist in code."
As the game of cat-and-mouse between Antifa and the authorities continued, the police sound truck repeatedly announced: "It is time to leave."
Read a previous update below:
Portland Police kept dueling groups of downtown protesters separate — for now.
Crowds of Antifa-affiliated members lined the sidewalk of Southwest Madison Street between Third and Fourth Avenues, only to be pushed back into Chapman Square Park by officers dressed in all-black riot gear.
"I'm here to protect our city," said Jett, who described herself as an experienced activist involved with the scene for over two decades.
"I'm disappointed that the city of Portland is against us," she said, her red shades matching her crimson Boy Scout bandana. "(Mayor) Ted Wheeler should drop out and let somone who cares about the city run it."
About 40 people could be seen rallying for the "HimToo" protest in Terry Schrunk Plaza, but police barricades made it difficult to cross between sides.
At one point, tricksters associated with the leftists wheeled "guillotines" made out of shopping carts and cardboard onto the sidewalk across the street from the Justice Center, inviting officers to hop onboard.
"Maybe later," one authority replied.
Another provocateur dropped trow in front of the riot cops, gleefully egging on police who did not respond to his taunts.
"Do you guys have anal recognition software," he quipped.
Paul Welch has four staples in the back of his head — the end result of a smack from a truncheon used by a black-clad protester on Aug. 4 during a Patriot Prayer rally.
Welch, 38, was carrying an American flag at the time. On Saturday, he was holding a sign reading "Support Survivors." He said it was only a case of mistaken identity that led counterprotesters to associate him with Patriot Prayer.
"Sexual abuse, misogyny, racism – it's an issue at home, at the family level," the Portlander said. "I was looking for a message of unity."
Though his attack garnered millions of views online, he has no ill will toward Antifa and says protesting is "crucially important work."
"It's fundamental to our civic life," Welch said. "If we can't engage in the marketplace of ideas, we don't have a civic life."
Neither side showed any sign of backing down by 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17.
Read a previous update here:
Survivors of sexual assault were boosted by hundreds of allies in advance of a "'HimToo'" protest organized by conservatives.
Resistance groups flooded Chapman Square Park in downtown Portland by noon on Saturday, Nov. 17.
Across the street at Terry Schrunk Plaza, the first stirrings of the right-wing demonstration could be seen. Portland Police Bureau officers blocked off a large potion of the park closest to Schrunk Plaza with orange caution plastic fencing.
Signs explained the barriers were erected in accordance with City Code and that entry was prohibited. Officers standing nearby told community members the fencing was in place to prevent people from lobbing projectiles at each other.
Speeches were conducted throughout the morning by leftists.
"We will not be silent, we will not be intimidated," orated Effie Baum, a spokesperson for Popular Mobilization. "We have so much to fight for."
She decried the #HimToo event organized by Haley Adams — a close lieutenant of Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson — as a "sickening attempt to silence survivors."
Among the crowd could be seen many of the black-clad antifascists known as Antifa.
The protest comes just a day after an anti-protest proposal floated by Mayor Ted Wheeler failed to find support at City Hall.
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