Anger over a recent left-wing demonstration boiled over in Portland — propelling conservatives into downtown streets for a three-hour counter-protest march that soon devolved into scuffles, shouting and attacks.
Yelling resounded off buildings, flash bangs blasted, the police loudspeaker crackled and the smell of pepper spray wafted through the air as the twilight march broke down into random street skirmishes by 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 13. Watch video of the fray here.
Portland Police said they observed "assaultive" behavior and began clearing streets, at times putting their hands on journalists and bystanders in order to encourage compliance. They also fired less-lethal ammunition.
A spokesperson said they made no arrests and are not aware of anyone who was transported to the hospital. Officers witnessed people carrying "hard-knuckled gloves, firearms, batons and knives" but did not seize any weapons.
"We will continue to investigate this incident and ask that anyone who was the victim of a crime to come forward and file a report," Police Chief Danielle Outlaw said in a news release.
One of the first tussles apparently occurred on Washington Street near Kelly's Olympian bar. Video accounts posted on social media showed that people were clubbing and stomping each other after being squirted with pepper spray.
Earlier in the day, members of the right organized under the banner of Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson — a well-known political activist and one-time Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Washington — for a "Flash March for Law and Order" from 6 to 8 p.m.
"There's people that are running around and assaulting innocent bystanders," Gibson said in an interview. "The mayor didn't do a damn thing about it."
As has become customary, Gibson and his crew were outnumbered by the black-clad leftist radicals known as Antifa, who have shown a willingness to do battle against what they believe is hate speech and fascism.
The right-wing crowd first gathered at Southwest Broadway and Morrison Street, and held a brief moment of silence for truck driver and videographer Leo Stratton, who died in a crash recently.
The marchers initially stayed on the sidewalk, patrolling past Pioneer Courthouse Square to the site of a memorial at Fourth and Harvey Milk Street for Patrick Kimmons, who was shot fatally by officers in late September who were responding to a shooting where a currently unidentified shooter or shooters wounded two other people.
But as members of Patriot Prayer held aloft flowers, they were blocked by a large group of Antifa-affiliated members who did not allow them to place the bouquets at the memorial.
"Say his name! Patrick Kimmons!" the Antifa members chanted. "Go home, Nazis!"
The right also sees fascism in Portland, arguing that Black Lives Matter protesters intimidated citizens during a Saturday, Oct. 6 event for Kimmons. One driver had his car battered after he attempted to drive through a crowd marching to the Justice Center.
"I've never seen a group so full of hate and anger in my whole life," said a Patriot Prayer supporter who gave his name as Charles. "The message that's been conveyed by the media that this is a racist hate group, I found to be an absolute lie."
Charles — who said he is a 57-year-old non-affiliated voter from Banks who supports socially-conservative ideas and the environment — was joined by another marcher named Kirt Schweigert.
"I don't want the violence that's caused by this one group," Schweigert said. "I want to make sure people follow our Constitution. The cops don't do it."
Portland Police Bureau maintained a heavy presence during the weekend brawl organized by Patriot Prayer. Police could be seen in full riot gear.
Gibson, who lives across the river in Vancouver, received about 2.3 percent of the vote during his longshot 2018 primary campaign for U.S. Senate. The winner of the GOP primary, Susan Hutchinson, will attempt to unseat three-term Democratic incumbent Maria Cantwell in November.
"I was shocked. I got 41,000 votes, I didn't expect that many," Gibson said.
This story has been updated to clarify the events surrounding the death of Patrick Kimmons.
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