Tags: portland | antifa | proudboys

Both Sides Claim Success in Portland Protests

Both Sides Claim Success in Portland Protests
Joe Biggs (AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Sunday, 18 August 2019 05:59 PM

The protest organizer of The Proud Boys, a far-right group that clashed with Antifa protestors in Portland over the weekend, says his unit got the attention it sought and pledged to continue monthly protests in the city, according to a report in USAToday.

“Look at President Trump’s Twitter,” Joe Biggs said in a tweet referring to Trump’s tweet that major consideration was being given to naming Antifa an “organization of terror.”

“He talked about Portland, said he’s watching Antifa. That’s all we wanted. We wanted national attention, and we got it. Mission success.”

The Proud Boys, an all-male group condemned by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its ties to white nationalism, and those protesting their presence, on Saturday converged on Portland’s downtown waterfront.

The showdown lasted just 30 minutes as police were able to separate the groups.

Thirteen people were arrested as police declared a civil disturbance.

"We know there is the possibility that assaults or other crimes occurred outside of the view of officers," police said in a statement. "Officers and detectives will be spending the hours and days ahead writing reports, conducting interviews and pursuing investigations."

Biggs is a Florida resident and former InfoWars staffer who organized the event.

The Proud Boys describe themselves as “patriots” and “Western chauvinists.”

City officials were mostly relieved that a downtown gathering Saturday of more than 1,000 far-right protesters and anti-fascist counter-demonstrators wasn't as violent as feared.

"I'm grateful this was largely a peaceful event," Mayor Ted Wheeler said. "We were preparing for and planning for a worst-case scenario."

There were 13 arrests and police seized bear spray, shields, poles and other weapons. But by using barriers and bridge closures — and allowing a large contingent of right-wingers to leave when they asked to — authorities were able to mostly keep the two sides apart. Six minor injuries were reported.

Eric K. Ward, executive director of the Portland-based Western States Center, said the right-wing rally was a bust.

"Portland won today, and far-right leaders like Joey Gibson and Joe Biggs lost," Ward said in a statement.

The Western States Center stated mission is to increase inclusive democracy.

In an interview, Ward said Biggs' groups cut short a planned five-hour rally after only one hour and left.

"The white nationalist, alt-right coalition that came to Portland were denied what they sought to create, which was large-scale civil disturbances," Ward said.

While antifa protesters get a lot of attention, Ward said there were many others who came out to oppose the right-wing groups. He also praised police and city officials for their actions.

"What I saw yesterday was the first step in Portland really putting together a citywide response," he said.

Wheeler, Portland's mayor, said at a Saturday evening news conference that Biggs and anyone espousing hate or violence was not welcome.

"We do not want him here in my city. Period," Wheeler said.

Wheeler tied the demonstrations to "a rising white nationalist movement" and a growing sense of fear in the country.

"Portland being a very progressive community is always going to be at or near ground zero of this battle."

Wheeler emphasized that there are hundreds of protests every year in Portland, and most don't get any attention.

The latest rally began late Saturday morning. Flag-waving members of the Proud Boys, Three Percenters militia group and others gathered downtown, some wearing body armor and helmets like the antifa protesters.

More than two dozen local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, were in the city for the right-wing rally.

As of early afternoon, most of the right-wing groups had left the area. But hundreds of people remained downtown and on nearby streets, and there were tense skirmishes, mostly with antifa protesters who were trying to find right-wing rallyers, throughout the day.

Patriot Prayer's Gibson, who organized similar rallies in 2017 and 2018 that erupted in clashes, surrendered Friday on an arrest warrant for felony rioting. He was at a confrontation that broke out on May 1 outside a bar where antifa members had gathered after a May Day demonstration.

In a video he livestreamed on Facebook, Gibson accused the police of playing politics by arresting him but not the masked demonstrators who beat up conservative blogger Andy Ngo at a June 29 rally that drew national attention.

A video of that attack went viral and led the Proud Boys, who have been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, to organize Saturday's event.

Gibson was also at Saturday's rally.

Ward said even if right-wing groups return to Portland he is confident in the community's ability to turn out and stay true to its values.

"The tables have really turned in a significant way," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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The protest organizer of The Proud Boys, a far-right group that clashed with Antifa protestors in Portland over the weekend, says his unit got the attention it sought and pledged to continue monthly protests in the city, according to a report in USAToday.
portland, antifa, proudboys
Sunday, 18 August 2019 05:59 PM
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