People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Police Crack Down on More Antifascist/Patriot Prayer Rallies, One Year Later
Patriot Prayer, a right-wing group based in Vancouver, WA, and led by Joey Gibson, can't seem to get enough of Portland. Often their violent, macho, racist, hate-spewing rhetoric and actions have countered strong opposition here in Portland among the antifascist groups such as Antifa, and other activists. The Portland Police have frequently focused more of their attention on the people confronting the neo-fascists, particularly on June 30 and August 4, when several people reported serious injuries due to "less lethal" weapons.
On June 30, the "Freedom and Courage" rally organized by Patriot Prayer took place at Terry Shrunk Plaza. They were well protected by Portland and Homeland Security police, who had erected metal fences around the Plaza. Over 100 Antifa and other antifascist protestors protested across the street, facing cops and riot cops. Both sides hurled invectives. This verbal exchange went on for about two hours until the rally ended. Patriot Prayer began to march. Antifascist protestors hurled eggs, plastic water bottles and fire crackers at Patriot Prayer members and the Proud Boys (another racist group). Police in riot gear rushed in to protect them, while the other cops fired smoke bombs, pepper spray and "aerial distraction devices" (flash-bangs) at the antifascist protesters. Some right-wing groups and antifascist protestors punched and beat one another. Soon the cops declared this was a "riot," and ordered everyone to disperse. Many antifascist protestors re-assembled in Chapman and Lownsdale Squares to face the police line. They were merely shouting at the fascists when the cops started to attack them with rubber bullets. Then the cops revoked the permit of the Patriot Prayer members, ordered them to vacate Terry Shrunk Plaza, and ordered the antifascists to vacate Chapman and Lownsdale Squares.
The June 30 event had many similarities to the June 4, 2017 protests (PPR #72), where cops were also "hands-off" the neo-nazis but attacked the antifascists. Police held back from intervening at a similar event on June 3 marking one year after the 2017 clash, at which Patriot Prayer folks pepper sprayed counter-demonstrators without consequence.
On August 4, Joey Gibson, Patriot Prayer and the Proud Boys held a rally and march at the Waterfront in Portland. The city's story is that objects were thrown at the cops, prompting a police attack on the counter-demonstrators-- but nobody has seen video backing up this claim. Numerous first-hand and media reports indicate that the police ordered a dispersal and began using violence after they realized they had left two patrol cars amidst the crowd, and no objects were thrown until after the police opened fire.
Photos show a police flash-bang canister lodged in an anti-fascist's helmet, with serious damage done to his head. Another protestor hit by a flash-bang had severe burns on her arm and chest. Chief Outlaw and the Mayor, in order to prove that they did not want people using violence following Patriot Prayer's promise to come armed with guns, defended the police actions as having kept the two sides from an all-out street brawl. Rather than invite a dialogue, Mayor Wheeler shut down City Hall days later when angry protestors demanded a voice. In contrast, other cities such as Washington, DC deployed bicycle officers rather than riot police to separate proto-fascists from antifascists.
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.