Rally by right-wing group sparks Black Lives Matter counter-protest
Dozen arrested as police clash with Portland protesters
Police clashed with anti-racism protesters and members of the media in central Portland, Oregon from Saturday until early on Sunday morning, making more than a dozen arrests.
The violence followed a relatively peaceful rally by the right-wing Proud Boys group and counter protests by anti-fascist and Black Lives Matter activists on Saturday.
Videos shot by people at the scene showed police throwing protesters and photographers to the ground and jabbing them with batons as they drove them out of an area near Portland’s federal court building.
Protesters burnt a US flag and scuffled with police trying to arrest fellow demonstrators.
Police declared a riot after they said rocks and cans were thrown at officers, with the Multnomah county sheriff’s office reporting more than 12 arrests.
Portland Police did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment on the clashes.
The northwest city has seen four months of anti-racism protests and escalating political violence between left- and right-wing activists in the run-up to the November 3 presidential election.
Dressed in trademark black and yellow polo shirts and body armour, hundreds of Proud Boys supporters rallied to end what they called “domestic terrorism” in Democratic-run Portland.
“They’ve allowed 120 days of rioting and looting and murder happening within our streets and we’re locals so we’re just tired of this, that’s why we’re out here today,” Haley Adams, wearing an anti-stab vest and a stars and stripes bandanna, said.
The self-declared “Western chauvinist” Proud Boys had forecast a crowd of at least 10,000 but police said fewer than 1,000 were present.
Police reported four arrests related to the rally.
Online videos showed a person pushing a reporter to the ground and kicking him in the face.
Police said they were investigating the assault of a person documenting the gathering.
State governor Kate Brown declared a weekend state of emergency for Oregon’s biggest city, saying large numbers of “white supremacist groups” were travelling from out of state to attend the rally.
City and state leaders said in a letter to the community that Proud Boys supporters had planned to cause chaos and violence but that had yet to materialise by early Sunday morning.
Proud Boys leaders said their presence had pushed Brown to declare an emergency and create the kind of state and local police task force needed to keep the peace in a city President Donald Trump has called an “anarchist jurisdiction”.
“It’s crazy that it takes us to come here to solve things,” Proud Boys chair Enrique Tarrio said in video on the group’s Parler page.
Democratic presidential hopeful and former vice-president Joe Biden has said Trump’s rhetoric was stoking violence.
As the Proud Boys rally broke up, Portland Police stopped vehicles for traffic violations, confiscated firearms, paintball guns, baseball bats and shields, and issued two citations for unlawful firearm possession. — Reuters
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