Right-wing groups, including Proud Boys, believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory, Blue Lives Matter and Trump supporters such as Troops for Trump, held rallies, including the “No To Marxism” rally and the “Trump 2020 Cruise Rally” in Portland on Saturday afternoon. They were met by left-wing counter-protesters made up of of Antifa, self-proclaimed anti-fascists Popular Mobilization PDX, and Black Lives Matter.
Many of the right-wing protesters had shields honoring their cause, and both groups used pepper spray and fired paintball guns. During the demonstrations, violence escalated from throwing projectiles and shoving to all-out brawls erupting in front of the Multnomah County Justice Center in downtown Portland.
The Portland Police eventually declared the protest an “unlawful assembly.”
The right-wing groups dispersed, and some were followed to a parking garage by a group of left-wing protesters. An Antifa group pursued members of the Proud Boys, some throwing objects as they walked down the street.
Video shows a female member of Antifa throw a punch at a Proud Boy member, and then another Proud Boy member retaliates by knocking her to the ground. Some people with Antifa cry for the police to intervene.
Department of Homeland Security officers set up a perimeter at the Terry Schrunk Plaza, and attempted to break up the crowds by using pepper bullets.
The Portland Police Bureau released a statement regarding Saturday’s violence.
“On Saturday, August 22, 2020 several different groups gathered in Downtown Portland around noon,” the press release read. “There were a variety of groups with various ideologies represented and several hundred individuals filled the streets and nearby park.”
“Officers located a bucket containing condoms filled with an unknown liquid substance and a water bottle with what appeared to be urine along with several shields staged near the park at Southwest 4th Avenue and Salmon,” the statement said.
“Over the course of the next two hours, the groups remained in the streets. Individuals yelled at each other and there were some physical interactions which quickly resolved themselves,” the Portland Police said. “Some members from both groups threw projectiles and deployed aerosols like pepper and bear spray at each other. At times, fireworks were thrown and smoke canisters were deployed. Each skirmish appeared to involve willing participants and the events were not enduring in time, so officers were not deployed to intervene.”
Portland Police explained why they did not stop the fighting between the groups, “PPB had limited resources available today for the events and many of those working had worked until the early morning hours as a result of the overnight riot. At one point during this call, there were only 4 available police cars in the entire City to respond to emergency calls for service.”
“There have been questions about why the events downtown were not declared a riot and why police did not intervene,” the statement continued. “Incident commanders have to weigh out the entire situation to determine if police action is likely to make things safer or not. In this case there were hundreds of individuals and many weapons within the groups and an extremely limited amount of police resources actually available to address such a crowd.”
“Additionally, PPB members have been the focus of over 80 days of violent actions directed at the police, which is a major consideration for determining if police resources are necessary to interject between two groups with individuals who appear to be willingly engaging in physical confrontations for short durations,” the statement went on to say.
“While the activity in the group met the definition of a riot, PPB did not declare one because there were not adequate police resources available to address such a declaration,” the news release stated. “PPB had roughly 30 officers available for crowd management and there were several hundred individuals associated with the events downtown.”
Saturday marked the 87th day of protests and riots in Portland.