BY GORDON R. FRIEDMAN AND JIM RYAN
Left- and right-wing protesters demonstrated and sometimes clashed in violent outbursts Sunday evening in downtown Portland, drawing police in riot gear, disrupting traffic and resulting in four arrests.
The polar opposites across America’s political divide stood on either side of a downtown street shouting insults at each other.
On the political left were members of antifa, a self-described anti-fascist group often clad in black with their faces covered. On the political right were Joey Gibson and followers of his Patriot Prayer group, some who are pro-Trump, others appearing to be mostly anti-antifa.
Police — swathed in pads, helmets and shin guards and hanging off special personnel carrier trucks — clutched wooden batons as they tried to keep protesters on the sidewalks when they left parks near City Hall and started walking.
Authorities stepped in as heated banter between protesters spiraled into occasional fistfights. Several people received first-aid from medics on the scene.
Officers with the Federal Protective Service and a Multnomah County sheriff’s deputy used pepper spray twice, Portland police said, at times when protesters fought. Demonstrators used pepper spray too, police said, and some threw fireworks, bottles, rocks and ball bearings at each other.
Blocks away on the waterfront, the Portland Rose Festival carried on undisturbed, with the Ferris wheel turning and music blaring at the event’s traditional carnival.
Four men were arrested, police said, and two will be charged with disorderly conduct, a third with a federal citation, and a fourth is yet to be charged because he has not given his name.
Gibson organized his group’s rally as a high-intensity send-off to one of his supporters, but it came nearly a year to the day after similar demonstrations between thousands turned violent at the same location.
The demonstrations last June followed the brutal MAX train attack on May 26. Jeremy Christian, who had himself attended an earlier Patriot Prayer rally in Southeast Portland, is accused of stabbing to death two men on a train and leaving a third, Micah Fletcher, critically injured but alive with a deep neck wound.
Fletcher, bearing a scar from Christian’s knife, attended Sunday’s gatherings, but stayed far from the melees.
— Gordon R. Friedman
— Jim Ryan