Dueling protesters clash violently in northeast Portland, shots fired near a downtown protest
Far-right and left-wing protesters clashed in Portland on Sunday, a conflict that was punctuated by gunfire on a downtown street.
Dustin Brandon Ferreira, 37, a left-wing activist, said he was with other activists when a man used an insult against a black man in the group and then fired several shots at them. Brandon said the man was arrested by police. No one was hurt.
Video taken by a witness showed gunshots fired at the shooter at one point, although it is not clear if he was fired first.
The day started at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, where around 300 protesters gathered to protest rallies planned by right-wing groups who decided to move their event to an abandoned Kmart parking lot northeast of 122nd Avenue.
By midday, splinter groups from the left arrived at the right wing rally, sparking verbal skirmishes, followed by traveling street battles marked by masses of bears and bursts of fireworks that struck. shrouded part of 122nd Avenue northeast in thick smoke.
Members of both sides were heavily armed. Bats, paintball guns and wooden spears were among the weapons seen on the left, and paintball guns and bats were seen among the members on the right. People on both sides wore large shields.
A person dressed in black was seen at the water’s edge carrying what appeared to be a gun and bullets. It was not immediately clear whether the rifle could have been a replica.
Portland Police appeared to take a hands-off approach for much of the day. The officers were conspicuously absent for much of the afternoon, even left-wing activists erected barricades in the streets of the city center. On Twitter, the office said it was monitoring the situation.
Portland Police Chuck Lovell told reporters on Friday that police would not stand in the middle of the dueling groups and instead monitor offenders.
At around 4 p.m., a white van leading left-wing protesters entered the Kmart parking lot in northeast Portland and crashed near the entrance. Members of the right-wing activist group the Proud Boys shot him down with paintballs and crushed him with baseball bats.
The conflict then escalated with dozens of people pouring into the dual carriageway to northeast Portland. The bear mace was used by some protesters, although the source is unclear.
After the skirmish was over, some Proud Boys returned to the parking lot and overturned the van. The group also punctured tires and smashed the windows of a silver truck.
The moving conflict ended in the parking lot of Parkrose High School.
By late afternoon, downtown activists had erected barricades in the city streets using building materials and fences. The groups blocked the intersections of Southwest Salmon and Naito Parkway, as well as Southwest Taylor and Naito.
Then, around 5:45 p.m., gunshots rang out in downtown Southwest 2nd and Taylor, prompting a police response. The circumstances of the shooting and whether it was related to the events of the day were not immediately clear. Officers were picking up bullet shells where the shooting took place.
The right-wing group consisted of around 100 people, many of whom were associated with the Proud Boys. They gathered in the parking lot of the old Kmart in front of a stage with a large American flag and the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop.
The group hung a sign reading “Free our political prisoners” in the old store, referring to insurgents arrested for their participation in the attack on the United States Capitol on January 6.
Proud Boys member Tusitala “Tiny” Toese said the group had no plans to go downtown and had moved the event to avoid clashes with leftist groups.
“We moved the rally to avoid altercation and violence between us and the people on the left, but if they show up here we will defend ourselves,” Toese said.
Toese, who has participated in right-wing protests that have led to bloody brawls in Portland and other cities, pleaded guilty to an assault charge in January 2020 following a beating in 2018 in northeast Portland and was sentenced to six months in prison last fall after violating his probation. The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office confirmed earlier this month that Toese is not currently on probation.
Early in the day, a waterfront speaker urged left-wing protesters not to go to the old Kmart parking lot where members of the Proud Boys were gathered, saying the protesters had done their job simply by introducing himself.
Some in the crowd were wearing helmets or donning protective gear labeled “ACAB” or “antifa”. Members of the group held up signs reading “Goodnight White Pride” and “No Love 4 Nazis”.
Members of the Portland Interfaith Clergy Resistance, an interfaith collective of Portland religious leaders, gathered with the group as part of their mission to “accompany those who seek justice in the streets.”
“(I hope) that the right of everyone to assemble and speak freely can be respected peacefully,” said Rabbi Ariel Stone, “and that the city will meet its obligations to support, protect and serve its citizens by maintaining all violence, or anyone who chooses to bring violence to the city away from the people who live here.
The rallies scheduled for Sunday were spurred by a similar event a year ago where right-wing protesters, including some affiliated with the Proud Boys, clashed with anti-fascist counter-protesters in downtown Portland. The two groups bombarded each other with paintballs, sledgehammers and stones as Portland police remained largely on the sidelines.
A week after last year’s protests, Michael Reinoehl, an anti-fascist protester, gunned down Aaron Danielson, a member of the far-right group Patriot Prayer, after a pro-Trump rally in downtown Portland.
– Oregon staff reports