PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Another rally and counter-rally organized by and against Joey Gibson’s Patriot Prayer group began Sunday afternoon in Portland, and police provided a heavy and noticeable presence.
The rally and counter protest had a few tense moments, but the two sides remained relatively calm. Police took Jay Bishop, 38, into custody shortly before 4 p.m. for having a firearm at a federal park and a concealed weapon. It’s unknown what his affiliation was with the rally. He was booked into Multnomah County Jail on those charges on Sunday night.
The rally was a last-minute gathering. On Saturday, Gibson, the leader of the right-wing group based in Vancouver, announced on their Facebook page the rally would begin 2 p.m. at Terry Schrunk Plaza, which is federal land in the middle of the city.
Shortly before 2 p.m., protesters began arriving in the city core. Chapman Square was fenced off and officers with the Department of Homeland Security were checking the bags of people who were entering Schrunk Plaza.
It didn’t take long for the competing factions to begin trading barbs and insults at each other, though the crowds — on both sides — were decidedly smaller as the event began.
Gibson said the smaller crowd was by design. “I didn’t want to bring hundreds of people to Portland because I couldn’t control it.”
Robbie Abalos, a member of the group “Refuse Fascism,” said Antifa groups rallied to have more people than Patriot Prayer.
“We outnumber them and show them their ideas aren’t the popular opinion,” Abalos said.
The people who did show up “don’t want to be violent. They believe in love and just want to talk to people.”
Before the Patriot Prayer group began marching, Gibson told KOIN 6 News his efforts have nothing to do with what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“Richard Spencer, I’m sick of him,” Gibson said, referring to the leader of the event in Charlottesville. “He’s just trying to agitate.” Spencer led another march in Charlottesville on Saturday, and again his allies carried torches and chanted, “You will not replace us.”
“We are not going to show up with torches, it’s not what we do it’s not what we believe in, OK, we are trying to send a positive message,” Gibson added. “Any type of racist message is a negative message.”
Instead, Gibson said they were there to talk about “freedom, truth, God and that’s it.”
Mark Callahan, a republican running for the 5th congressional district seat in Oregon, agreed, saying, “We are bringing the message of love.”
“They say that they are out here for love,” Abalos said, “but in reality they come out here and preach hate against gays and lesbians.”
Around 2:50 p.m., the Patriot Prayer supporters began marching along the sidewalks through downtown Portland. Opposition members — dressed in their familiar black sweatshirts, black mask, black hoods and gloves — walked among them and occasionally tried to disrupt the march. At one point, one Antifa member physically blocked Gibson from passing, but Gibson was able to get away without a real altercation.
After making a loop through Southwest Portland streets, the groups wound up back at Terry Schrunk Plaza around 3:20 p.m. The riot police showed up at the same time.
Gibson called on “all freedom-loving patriots in the area” to show up for “a couple speeches here and there” and “a couple marches” to “challenge the city, challenge the locals, challenge Antifa, challenge everyone.”
In the 10-minute monologue, Gibson said “the goal is not to go into Portland to make it more dark. … I just want Portland to be tolerant again.”
Gibson said Patriot Prayer plans to “challenge the lies” and “nothing is going to stop us.”
Following his last rally that moved from Portland to Vancouver which ended in multiple arrests, Gibson told KOIN 6 News he was done with rallies in Portland.
In his Saturday announcement, Gibson said, “If you do want to join us, don’t be there to fight.”
He said “Portland is ran by lies and darkness and hatred” and the “goal is to leave a little bit of light in Portland.”
An opposition group, Portland Stands United Against hate, placed a call to action on their Facebook page:
Our intelligence has informed us that they may be marching with torches, like what we saw in Charlottesville. White supremacists, far-right militia members, and self-identifying fascists will be present, hiding behind the guises of “Christians” and “patriots”. Don’t be fooled by the name: Patriot Prayer has a history of violence and hatred in our community. Members of the alt-right street gang “the Proud Boys” fill their ranks and PP has a friendly working arrangement with white supremacist group Identity Evropa.
KOIN 6 News will have more information as the day moves along.