Proud Boys, Antifa Clash in Portland While Police Stand Idly By
The weirdest goddamn story you're likely to read today.
The most confusing story of the day (well, yesterday) comes to us courtesy of the Guardian and YahooNews: “Hundreds clash in Portland as Proud Boys rally descends into violence.” The lede:
A rightwing protest in Portland on Sunday has culminated in a gunfight, when antifascist demonstrators returned fire at a man who shot at them with a handgun in a downtown street.
Okay, so far, so good.
The firefight took place in the heart of downtown Portland, soon after 6pm. As antifascists followed a man at a distance who they were trying to eject from the area, he took cover behind an electrical substation box, produced a handgun and opened fire. He fired at least two shots before an antifascist returned fire with their own handgun. At least seven shots were fired.
So, now I’m confused. The some random yahoo—or a member of the Proud Boys?—shoot at some antifa dudes? Or did some armed antifa dudes come running at some random yahoo—or member of the Proud boys?—to “eject him from the area,” in which case he not unreasonably took cover and defended himself?
Portland police bureau confirmed that a man had been arrested over the shooting but did not have any information on any injuries.
The incident came after a day of protest descended into running clashes involving hundreds of protesters and counter protesters.
Earlier that afternoon, in the city’s suburban east, Proud Boys discharged rounds from airsoft guns, while antifascists threw firework munitions, and both sides exchanged clouds of choking mace and countless blows in a chaotic running street battle that lasted the better part of an hour.
So . . . has Portland defunded the police? I mean, essentially abolished the police force? Because, otherwise, what in the hell were they doing all day?
One presumes the Proud Boys and antifa folks had permits for a large gathering, so one would think there would be a police presence. Because, holy hell, the presence of either group is a recipe for violence and the presence of both is a nigh-on certain riot. And yet they were somehow allowed to shoot off guns, fireworks, and teargas while engaging in street battle—for over an hour—before engaging in a firefight. You would think law enforcement might have stepped in at some point in the festivities, no?
But, wait: there’s more:
The earlier confrontation, which began around 4pm in the carpark of an abandoned Kmart where about 200 members of far-right groups had staged a rally billed as a “Summer of Love” event, eventually spilled out onto a busy arterial road and the carpark of nearby Parkrose high school.
Why far-right groups are taking on the hippie-est of hippie slogans I do not know. But, again, you might think someone would have gotten suspicious with all of this going on on “a busy arterial road” near a school?
It began when a group of around 30 antifascists – almost all clad in “black bloc” attire – walked past the rightwing rally at 4pm and Proud Boys gave chase. The forecourt of a neighboring gas station and a convenience store were soon racked by explosions and gas-propelled airsoft projectiles.
This seems like the fourth different description as to “who started it” but I’ve lost track at this point.
The two sides briefly disengaged at about 4.15pm, and street medics on both sides attended to participants who had been beaten, shot, or overcome by mace.
Chivalry is not dead.
Soon, however, traffic was intermittently brought to a halt on busy NE 122nd Ave as the renewed battle stretched across the street and into the grounds of the high school.
There, Proud Boys set upon a small pick-up truck, smashing windows, slashing tires, scattering the vehicle’s cargo of bottled water, and severely beating the male occupant.
Not to make light of a horrible situation here but I would have had my money on the pick-up truck being affiliated with the Proud Boys, not its victim. Maybe he had a commie flag tacked up on the inside of his garage. Or voted for George McGovern for President.
When antifascists retreated from the carpark, Proud Boys erupted into chants of “Whose streets? Our streets!”
I mean, technically speaking, a carpark isn’t a street. But sure.
Back at the carpark, another vehicle was turned on its side and spraypainted with the letters “FAFO”, an acronym for the Proud Boys catch cry, “Fuck Around and Find Out”.
I’m not sure the Proud Boys invented that one but the report is decidedly unclear as to how the parked vehicle transgressed or what it is that its owner was to discern from it being turned on its side.
Returning from the high school at about 5pm, Proud Boys began to leave the rally venue. From a red pickup truck men fired airsoft guns at a small number of antifascists gathered at the entrance of the carpark, and then one of them trained his weapon at a group of reporters.
So, some PBs fired some toy bullets into a crowd of antifa, causing the latter to brandish a weapon at a group of reporters? FAFO, I guess.
The Proud Boys announced their intention to cross the Columbia river, and the Washington state line, to regroup at a city park in Vancouver.
I must admit, I did not see that coming.
Even before the black-clad group arrived, the rally had already departed from its avowedly peaceful intentions
after Proud Boys and other participants streamed away from the speakers platform – bedecked with a giant American flag and an 8ft replica of the Statue of Liberty – to confront a group of three women who were waving placards opposing the protest.
Fuck around with Lady Liberty you’re gonna find out, am I right?
In downtown streets, and during the suburban fracas, Portland police were nowhere to be seen
until the exchange of fire near 2nd Street and Taylor brought forth dozens of officers in cruisers, who arrested the suspected gunman and blocked surrounding streets.
So, it would seem that multiple arrests would have been called for in this instance. But I’m counting multiple “gunmen” in this story. Which one got arrested? Was it a PB? An antifa?
Asked about their absence in the Parkrose confrontation, a spokesman for the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) repeated in an email the advice that police chief Chuck Lovell had given in the days leading up to the clashes.
“As the chief stated before the event today, people should keep themselves apart and avoid physical confrontation”, the spokesman wrote, adding that arrests may not be made in the moment, and may come in succeeding days.
So, I hate to judge police chief Chuck Lovell, whom I have never met and may for all I know be a swell fella, on the basis of this one incident. But, were I to do so, I would be inclined to say that he’s a goddamn moron and should not be the chief of a major city police department.
The 2pm rightwing rally in the city’s outer north-east had been moved from its original venue on downtown Portland’s waterfront to its suburban location after antifascists began publicly mobilizing to oppose it.
Many of those antifascists maintained their focus on the original planned location for the rightwing rally on Portland’s downtown waterfront, with around 200 attending the site.
This would seem to render the previous claims as to the control of the streets more complicated.
While those activists were watchful, but mostly peaceful in the early afternoon, at the fringes of the event, some people who fell under activists’ suspicion were confronted, with one man on a bicycle being maced, and two street preachers from Kent, Washington, being chased from the vicinity of the park.
So, there are two groups of “activists” in this story. I’m guessing from context that this is antifa? But who the hell knows at this point.
On Sunday, many proud boys were open-carrying handguns, and armed with batons, bottles of chemical spray, and baseball bats, while at least one man carried a pickaxe handle emblazoned with the Proud Boys insignia.
In the lead-up to the rallies, Portland mayor Ted Wheeler, other elected officials, and a number of progressive nonprofits urged protesters to “choose love” in a virtual rally and press conferences.
Which, given that the PB’s were calling their event “Summer of Love,” means that said officials were unintentionally offering their endorsement?
One of those nonprofits is the Western States Center. In a press release issued following the day’s events, that organization’s executive director, Eric Ward, demanded that “elected leaders from our neighboring jurisdictions, our state and our federal government” assist in helping Portland deal with the far-right incursions into the city which have recurred since the beginning of the Trump era.
“The idea that Portland, or any city, can single handedly defeat white nationalism is a fallacy”, Ward added.
I’m not gonna disagree with that.