More than a dozen people were arrested during Saturday’s demonstrations where far-right groups planned protests against far-left extremist groups.
Members from the far-right group, Proud Boys planned the event as a demonstration against domestic terrorism. Their particular focus was on the far-left extremist group Antifa (Anti-fascist).
There were over 1,200 demonstrators who began arriving in downtown Portland Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. They gathered in the vicinity of Waterfront Park, Pioneer Courthouse Square, and along the eastside of the Willamette River.
The Portland police department said in a statement, “Almost immediately, officers started seizing weapons. Weapons seized included chemical spray (bear spray), metal and wooden poles, knives, shields, and a stun gun.”
Absent from the event was far-right Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson, who turned himself into authorities the day before the Portland protests.
The charge against Gibson stems from his involvement in a violent clash in Portland on May 1, when far-right protesters arrived at Cider Riot, which was hosting an event that drew people who participated in demonstrations earlier in the day.
Gibson claimed that authorities were trying to intimidate conservatives who planned to protest Saturday.
A campaign has been set up to assist Gibson with legal fees for several law suits against him.
Portland police said their main goal during the protests was to keep people safe and support their Constitutional rights of free speech. Eleven adults and two juveniles were arrested during the demonstrations. There were no serious injuries reported from the event.
Shortly after 4:00 p.m., police declared the protests a civil disturbance and ordered everyone to evacuate the area.
Police are advising this is now a civil disturbance. Crowd needs to leave the area and go Northbound on Park or any direction eastbound. This means everyone. #ppbalert
— Portland Police (@PortlandPolice) August 17, 2019
The Proud Boys tweeted that they will routinely come back to Portland unless Mayor Ted Wheeler (D-OR) “takes charge and removes the scourge of violent domestic terrorists from his city.”
The Proud Boys put out a news release late Saturday afternoon saying they would return to Portland monthly unless Mayor Ted Wheeler “takes charge and removes the scourge of violent domestic terrorists from his city,” referring to antifa.
— The Oregonian (@Oregonian) August 18, 2019
Before events in Portland had gotten underway, President Trump tweeted, “major consideration was being given to designating Antifa an organization of terror. Portland is being watched very closely. Hopefully the Mayor will be able to properly do his job,” he added.
Major consideration is being given to naming ANTIFA an “ORGANIZATION OF TERROR.” Portland is being watched very closely. Hopefully the Mayor will be able to properly do his job!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2019