Proud Boys, antifa violently clash on 122nd in East Portland
Despite the pleas of local officials — Portland chose violence, not love, on Sunday, Aug. 22.
The street brawl in east Portland's Argay Terrace neighborhood was planned well in advance — yet the fight between left and right was uninterrupted by authorities as fireworks exploded, pepper spray and projectiles filled the air and combatants fired paintball and airsoft guns.
Proud Boys yelling â€œletâ€™s go!â€ as street clashes with Anifa happening now on 122nd in Portland pic.twitter.com/tM4PrFxNnC— Zane Sparling (@PDXzane) August 22, 2021
Traffic whizzed through the street, nearly hitting combatants, while those patronizing a nearby gas station and convenience store rushed to their vehicles in terror.
The two sides, commonly known as Proud Boys and Antifa, gathered on separate sides of the Willamette River beginning at noon. The black-clad band stood near the Salmon Springs fountain downtown and occupied their time confronting a local street preacher.
Meanwhile, Proud Boys erected a stage backed by an American flag in the massive vacant parking lot surrounding an abandoned Kmart. Some in their number patrolled along the shuttered big box store's awning, from which hung a sign reading "free our political prisoners."
"I don't think we can run from our destiny of this clash, this rift in America," said a right-wing participant wearing armor, who calls himself "Based Cuck."
"They were geared up for a fight from the moment they stepped out of their cars," said Martha, who held a sign saying "No one needs the love of Proud Boys, fake patriots, fascists, neo-Nazis" outside the Kmart lot.
The Gresham resident's sign was a reference to the "Summer of Love" branding assigned to the rally by right-wing groups.
Using similar language, and the hashtag "choose love," Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and other officials who pleaded for the participants in the pre-planned brawl to remain peaceful.
That didn't happen. Indeed, officers announced ahead of time that they would not intervene or separate opposing forces. Official did erect several traffic reader boards displaying their chosen hashtag.
After hours of speeches at the Kmart, the clash erupted suddenly around 4 p.m. after a few counter-protesters began walking through the parking lot, including two men holding hands.
Antifa and the Proud Boys fought for over an hour along 122nd Avenue and in the parking lot of Parkrose High School on Shaver Street.
A van with the markings of Metro West Ambulance was overturned by Proud Boys after it careened into the Kmart parking lot. An apparent antifa member who got into his truck in the high school parking lot was pummeled and pepper-sprayed inside the cab as Proud Boys smashed the vehicle's tires and windows. The assault victim's condition was not immediately known.
Those dressed in black called on press members to stop filming and knocked a local journalist, Maranie Staab, to the ground, reportedly destroying some of her equipment and dousing her in pepper spray. Projects were hurled as she was treated by a street medic for chemical spray.
Tusitala "Tiny" Toese — a notorious street brawler whose probation recently ended for a 2018 assault conviction — brazenly fired an airsoft rifle at members of the opposing crowd.
Earlier, on stage, he joked that he "identified as a coconut," and made references to transgender bathroom usage, saying "I'mma follow you in there, as a woman too, and then I'll whoop your a—, because I'm not playing that Democrat game."
In a statement, Portland Police said they were conducting follow-up investigations, gathering evidence, and "will make arrests when probable cause exists."
"While it's disappointing that some people chose to engage violently, I am grateful for those who exercised their rights peacefully and without committing crimes," said Police Chief Chuck Lovell. "I also thank the Portland Police personnel who came in to work today on their day off, and those who were responding to calls for service citywide."
The violence did not end after both sides retreated, as a man apparently exchanged gunfire downtown after a band of antifa regrouped there.
"We aren't going to tolerate white supremacists having rallies in Portland," said Rhys, who brought water bottles and medic supplies to the gathering downtown earlier in the day. "The idea that they can come through here and harass the queer and Black and Indigenous and homeless people who are just living our lives is just untenable. And I'm not alone."
Hours later, on the other side of town, Toese and other dressed in the black-and-yellow of the Proud Boys piled into the back of pick-up trucks and sped off to parts unknown.
"Payback's a b—ch, antifa!" one man shouted.
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