Portland saw its largest far-right demonstration of the Trump era on Saturday, as 500 right-wingers traveled from around the United States to march back and forth across the Oregon city’s bridges and briefly occupy a patch of its waterfront.
By making extensive accommodations for the unpermitted right-wing protest, including close police escorts, concrete barriers and reopening a bridge to allow them to leave the downtown area, Portland authorities succeeded in preventing head-on confrontations between it and a much larger counter-protest.
The far-right “end domestic terrorism” protest, organized by leaders in the “western chauvinist” Proud Boys fraternity, saw Trump supporters rub shoulders with more radical groups, including Three Percenters, a “patriot movement” militia group, and American Guard, who the Anti-Defamation League described as “hardcore white supremacists”.
A diverse counter-protest had been waiting for the group. Beginning at 9.30am, the protest featured Buddhist and Jewish prayers, speeches, a poop emoji costume parade organized by the PopMob group, and music.
Around 10 am, E.D. Mondaine, of the Portland chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, addressed the crowd, saying: “It’s time to stand up and annihilate bigotry.”
He called upon white allies to help with “fighting white nationalism” in “one of the whitest cities in America”, and concluded by leading a civil rights song, Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around.
The counter-protest also included a large group of masked anti-fascist protesters in “black bloc” attire. “Antifa” protesters of this kind were a focus of the right, and the protest was framed as a response to an incident at a previous rally on June 29th, when conservative writer Andy Ngo was milkshaked and punched by unidentified black bloc protesters.
“Antifa” is a collective term for a loose affiliation of anti-fascist groups. Such counter-protesters have clashed with far-right activists in the Oregon city throughout the Trump era, some wearing black bloc attire and face masks.
Texas Republican Ted Cruz has proposed a Senate resolution which would designate Antifa a domestic terrorist group and names Rose City Antifa, a prominent Portland group.
Several incidents took place after the main body of right-wingers left the city. According to reporters on the west side of the Willamette River, a school bus similar to the one used by the right-wing Proud Boys group at previous events had its windows smashed and was pepper-sprayed by anti-fascists.
Video and photos of the incident appeared to show an occupant of the bus wielding a hammer which was then seized by an antifascist.