13 arrested in day of far-right and antifa demonstrations in Portland

A counter-protester is detained by Portland police during an alt-right rally on August 17, 2019 in Portland, Oregon. Anti-fascism demonstrators gathered to counter-protest a rally held by far-right, extremist groups. / GETTY IMAGES

Portland, Oregon — Police said 13 people were arrested after far-right and antifa demonstrations in Portland on Saturday. Those arrested face charges including disorderly conduct, interfering with police, unlawful use of a weapon, possession of a weapon in a park, Portland police chief Danielle Outlaw.

At its peak, there were 1,200 people gathered, Outlaw said. She said disruptions were limited to “very small area of downtown Portland.” One officer deployed pepper balls, Outlaw said.

Outlaw said “every available officer” was used during the protest, and she was proud “of the level of professionalism” everyone showed.

At least six people were injured, including one person who was transported to a local hospital. Outlaw said none of the injuries were caused by police, KOIN reports.

At a press conference Saturday night, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler complimented the city for “coming together.” He thanked police for handling “a difficult task” and keeping it “largely a peaceful event.”

“Portland, being a progressive community, is always going to be at or around ground zero in this battle. That’s just a reality,” Wheeler said.

The chairman of the far-right group Proud Boys told CNN they would keep coming to Portland until Wheeler “does something about antifa.”

“He’s gonna call the National Guard, the FBI, all of those people,” Enrique Tarrio said. “We’re gonna keep coming out here until Ted Wheeler does something.”

Police earlier had declared the demonstrations a “civil disturbance” as fistfights broke out, CBS Portland affiliate KOIN reports.

Antifa members used familiar chants — “Go home, Nazis!”, “No Trump, No KKK, no Fascist USA” — as the right-wing groups, led by the Proud Boys, marched along the waterfront and through the downtown streets, KOIN reports.

Protesters were kept apart mainly by heavy police presence.

Antifa supporters sat down and blocked streets as right-wing groups approached. Soon, punches were thrown by protesters and police escalated their efforts at crowd control, KOIN reports.

Loudspeakers were used to tell the crowd that they were subject to arrest if they did not comply with police orders.

Police warned the media to stop posting locations of various groups because they believed protesters were using the information to target opposing groups.

Police seized multiple weapons from several groups, including shields and wooden poles.

In recent years, Portland has become a magnet for protests, some of them turning ugly. A riot in 2017 shattered store windows throughout downtown, leading to 25 arrests.

President Trump on Saturday said there was “major consideration” to name “Antifa” an “organization of terror.” Antifa is a collective name for anti-fascist protesters. “Portland is being watched very closely. Hopefully the Mayor will be able to properly do his job!” Mr. Trump tweeted.

First published on August 17, 2019 / 2:58 PM

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