Far-Right And Leftist Groups Demonstrate In Portland

Aug 18, 2019
Copyright 2019 Oregon Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit Oregon Public Broadcasting.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

In Portland, Ore., yesterday, opposing groups converged for demonstrations including far-right figures from across the nation and local antifascists. Oregon Public Broadcasting's Meerah Powell reports the day ended with police declaring a civil disturbance.

MEERAH POWELL, BYLINE: The End Domestic Terrorism event, billed as a rally against Antifa, was organized by Joe Biggs of Florida. He's a former employee with the conspiracy theory website InfoWars. Also involved were members of the Proud Boys, an organization designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Here's Biggs on the demonstration.

JOE BIGGS: We got to go say what we wanted. And at the end of the day, that's really all that matters.

POWELL: Events remained primarily peaceful between protesters and counter-protesters with police mostly keeping groups separated. Most far-right rallygoers left the area only hours into the demonstrations, leaving antifascist counter-protesters to have minor clashes with police. Officers declared a civil disturbance, forcing crowds to disperse early Saturday evening. Police estimated at least 1,000 people gathered for the demonstrations.

The day drew national attention, with President Donald Trump tweeting that Portland is being watched very closely and that, quote, "major consideration is being given to naming Antifa an organization of terror." Parts of the city shut down in preparation for the event, including some downtown businesses, streets and bus lines. Demonstrators stayed mostly in central Portland. Other parts of the city operated normally, with events outside of downtown like a boxcar derby and a hot sauce exhibition unaffected by the crowds. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler acknowledged the, quote, "reality of a growing white nationalist movement." He says it's no surprise Portland is chosen as a location for demonstrations like these.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TED WHEELER: Portland, being a very progressive community, is always going to be at or near ground zero when it comes to this battle. That's just the reality.

POWELL: Following Saturday's demonstrations, the Proud Boys put out a news release saying they would continue coming to Portland if Wheeler does not remove Antifa from the city. For NPR News, I'm Meerah Powell in Portland, Ore. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.