Friday, August 3, 2018

As far-right marchers and antifa prepare to face off on Saturday, Portland braces for violence

Screams echoed. American flags waved menacingly. Fireworks and flashbang grenades shook the downtown streets. Fists and feet started swinging.

On June 30, as a faceoff between opposite ends of the political spectrum exploded into a street fight, enforcement in Portland, Oregon, jumped into action. The march, organized by Patriot Prayer, a far-right outfit with a history of sparking conflict, was met by anti-fascist - antifa - and other-counter protesters. As the clash escalated, the event was declared a riot. Officers in body armor tried to unknot the scuffles. Four people left the scene in ambulances, the Portland Police later said in a statement. Four others left in handcuffs.

But for the march's organizers, the melee was arguably a success.

"Today was good in terms that we showed that there's a political move right now to have the police stand down in order to impact free speech in some of these big cities," Patriot Prayer's leader Joey Gibson told KOIN. "Portland's the last city on the West Coast that's doing that, so we just have to keep hitting it - I don't see what else to do other than that. We'll make Portland so ugly in terms of how they allow these protesters to charge us when we have a permit."

This weekend, Portland is bracing for round two. Gibson, who is running as a Republican for a U.S. Senate seat from Washington, is planning to hold a "Freedom March" on August 4 at the city's waterfront, the Portland Mercury reported.

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