PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In a repeat of a clash between Patriot Prayer and Antifa one year ago, hundreds of people converged in downtown Portland and almost immediately began to skirmish, resulting in three arrests and one other federal citation.
Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw released a statement regarding the protests.
“The intent of our presence today was to provide a safe environment for all participants, non-participants, and community members while ensuring the peaceful exercise of the First Amendment. The Police Bureau attempted to communicate directly with group organizers through the use of social media, a loud-hailer, and person-to-person communication in an effort to encourage an environment in which Portland community members could safely practice their right to free speech and assembly. Bureau members attempted to intercede by separating and arresting people on occasions when people’s safety were in jeopardy.”
Both Jonathan Feit, 36, and Andrew Arbow, 32, were arrested during the protests and charged with second-degree disorderly conduct. Bryan Neyman was also arrested.
Gregory Isaacson, 43, received a federal citation for failure to comply with lawful order.
The Patriot Prayer protest, dubbed “Tiny’s Freedom March” attracted a large faction of anti-fascist groups to Terry Schrunk Plaza, a piece of federal land in the middle of the city.
Within minutes of people arriving around 4 p.m., Portland police tweeted, “Officers have observed participants at today’s events at Terry Schrunk Plaza and Chapman and Lownsdale Square participate in assaultive behavior.”
Then the first of a number of fights broke out between rival factions. Law enforcement stepped in quickly and detained a number of people at that time.
Officers have observed multiple fights at today’s events. People are encouraged to leave the area for their safety due to the violent behavior of demonstrators at Terry Schrunk Plaza and Chapman and Lownsdale Squares.— Portland Police (@PortlandPolice) June 3, 2018
Around 4:45 p.m., Patriot Prayer began a march through the streets. Though they had no permit for a march, they marched on the sidewalks. But at SW 6th and Madison, the groups met and clashed again. Chants of “Nazis, go home!” preceded small altercations as the marchers tried to go through a construction tunnel.
Throughout the afternoon, pepper spray was used on a handful of protesters. At points along the few square blocks of the march, the Patriot Prayer supporters stopped for a brief rally in between skirmishes. Tiny — whose real name is Tusitala Toese, a native Samoan who has been arrested at least twice during protests — spoke a few times.
Toese, who announced earlier he was leaving Portland for Samoa, said Sunday he will only be gone for 2 weeks and when he returns he will once again return to the fray.
“I will be leaving for the islands, but believe me when I say I will be back so big boy Tiny’s story just started and it ain’t ending soon,” he said. “We’re going to come out here with my brothers, we’re going to hit Portland and we’re going to hit it hard.”
After about an hour marching, the Patriot Prayer supporters returned to Terry Schrunk Plaza with Antifa shadowing them every step of the way. The skirmishes continued until about 6:30 p.m.
A heavy police presence contained the rival factions throughout the 2-hour protest, keeping them largely in the central city.
A number of ACLU observers were scattered throughout the protest keeping a watchful eye on the events.
Why this protest
One year ago, thousands of pro-Trump demonstrators and counter-protesters converged in downtown Portland for opposing rallies that included clashes with police and 14 arrests.
Patriot Prayer, the far-right group led by Joey Gibson, planned “Tiny’s Freedom March” for Sunday at Terry Schrunk Plaza, a piece of federal land in the heart of downtown Portland.
An opposition protest organized by Rose City Antifa and others urged people to meet at Terry Schrunk Plaza at 4 p.m. “to show Patriot Prayer, just as we showed them last year, that their violence and hatred has no place in Portland.”
The planned protest and counter-protest caught the eye of the Portland Police Bureau, which said early Sunday they’re aware of the events and will be watching closely “due to previous incidents of violence between the various groups.” The city of Portland has not issued any permits for a street march, PPB said.
“Due to the potential for violence, persons attending any of the events are discouraged from bringing any weapons (firearms, knives, etc.) or items that can be used as weapons (sticks, bats, poles, rocks, fireworks/incendiary devices, etc.) to any of the events. Prohibited items may be seized by police and, if in violation of city, state or federal law, the possessor may be arrested and charged criminally,” police said. They also cited rules and laws that apply to parks and to having weapons in parks.
PPB also noted both state and federal laws apply at Terry Schrunk Plaza and said both city and county agencies would be working along with the Federal Protective Service.
By the way, Gibson — who announced months ago he was running for the US Senate in Washington but hasn’t mounted much of a campaign — had his personal Facebook page banned for 30 days over a photo he posted of what he said was an antifascist stalker.