(PORTLAND, Ore.) — Thirteen people were arrested and four were injured, as over 1,000 right-wing demonstrators and counter-protesters descended on downtown Portland on Saturday, police said.
There were “at least 13 arrests,” in six hours, Portland Police Lieutenant Tina Jones said in a statement. “We are aware of four individuals who have been evaluated by Portland Fire medics,” the statement said.
Jones also said that one person had been taken to a hospital and that “Portland Fire medics report that all known injuries are considered to be minor.”
However, as the day progressed, tensions seemed to be mounting. At around 4:30 p.m. local time, and the Portland Police tweeted, that “Police are having plastic water bottles thrown at them as they are making an arrest on SW Yamhill and Park.” After that, police began advising people to clear the streets or face arrest.
“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,” Portland Police tweeted.
The city has been bracing for several militant right-wing groups to arrive in the city, along with scores of counter-protesters.
Enrique Tarrio, national head of the Proud Boys, who describe themselves as an all-male “western chauvinist” group, and former InfoWars personality Joe Biggs, organized the “End Domestic Terrorism” rally on Saturday that started at 11 a.m. local time. Initially, the crowds moved in slowly, and were met by a heavy police presence, in which local police were bolstered by more than a dozen other law enforcement agencies.
Members of other far-right extremist groups, including the American Guard, the Three Percenters, and the Daily Stormers, were also expected to attend in the hopes of declaring militant leftists, or anti-fascists known as “anitfa,” a domestic terrorist group.
One right-wing militia group, Oath Keepers, disavowed the rally for fears of being associated with white supremacists.
“We do not believe the organizers are taking the steps necessary to ensure that white nationalist and suspected white nationalist groups and individuals will be excluded,” said Stewart Rhodes, the group’s founder, in a statement on its website.
— Oath Keepers (@Oathkeepers) August 15, 2019
Early Saturday, Trump criticized antifa in a tweet, and said Portland is “being watched very closely.”
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
“Major consideration is being given to naming ANTIFA an ‘ORGANIZATION OF TERROR,'” the tweet read. “Hopefully the Mayor will be able to properly do his job!”
The president did not, however, criticize the right-wing organizers.
Previous rallies featuring right-wing groups and antifa have turned violent in Portland, prompting a warning from Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.
Ahead of Saturday’s rallies, Wheeler issued a video message stating, “if you’re planning on coming here on August 17th with the intent to commit violence, we don’t want you here.”
It was unclear whether Joey Gibson, the leader of right-wing Patriot Prayer, will attend the rally. He and five other men have been arrested this month, on charges stemming from a violent outburst on May 1 at Cider Riot, a bar that is a haven for the city’s leftists. Videos of the May Day incident show men associated with the group spraying pepper spray, fighting and striking people with batons.
He turned himself in to authorities and bailed out on Friday.
Local authorities have beefed up security and have been joined by an array of other law enforcement agencies “on a scale that this city hasn’t seen in years,” Wheeler said.
A message to anyone who plans on using Portland on August 17th to commit violence and spread hate:
Stop using our beautiful city and our home to spread fear and disrupt our lives. https://t.co/CtkoxMz6rQ
— Mayor Ted Wheeler (@tedwheeler) August 7, 2019
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