Portland free speech rally, counter protests draw thousands

Getty Images

Getty Images

"We're here standing in solidarity with marginalized communities", one counter protester told KOIN 6 News.

They say the groups at City Hall and Schrunk Plaza were largely peaceful, while a group at Chapman Square required significant attention from law enforcement.

KASTE: A few hundred Trump supporters gathered downtown as promised, but they found themselves outflanked by a few thousand other people, all doing their best to shout them down.

As officers in riot gear and bearing heavy arms strove to keep one side from advancing into the other, protestors from each flank of America's bitter political divide took over adjacent parks in downtown Portland, Oregon, in a simmering and risky show of mutual disdain and anger. They say those who have been identified as participating in criminal activity will be arrested.

The stand-off came amid tensions in the city over the fatal stabbing on a train of two men who tried to help teenagers apparently targeted by racial abuse.

Gibson, who organised a similar protest on April 29, and attendees of Sunday's rally were outnumbered by counter-protesters, among them labour groups, religious organisations, socialists, anarchists and other anti-fascists.

Through the week, as the Portland stabbing deaths claimed national attention, Gibson has been active on social media, and in radio and television interviews, denouncing Wheeler and promoting the rally.

"Due to these threats and 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."
Initially, police did nothing to intervene as rally attendees seeking to enter Chapman Square met with physical resistance. But at one point, authorities fired pepper balls and flash-bang grenades after demonstrators threw "a significant amount of projectiles" at officers.

HuffPost reporters witnessed several scattered arrests made for disorderly conduct. He's been up and down the West Coast lately, mixing it up with leftists, and he's famous with this crowd for a viral video of him in a street battle at Berkeley.

Officers arrested four people from that crowd, but they released all others after checking people's identification.

Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson advised against mounting a counter-protest in downtown Portland this weekend, in opposition to a planned pro-Trump rally. He later told them that goal is to wake up the liberty movement. "We are not on the offensive and we want to see that these Trump supporters are there and that they can assemble peacefully and they can express their feelings for Donald Trump", Cox said.

Mayor Wheeler had asked that the group's permit for the rally be revoked in the light of last weekend's attack on a TriMet MAX train that left two men dead, but federal officials said there was "no basis" to revoke the permit for the event being held on the federally owned land. He described Christian as "all crazy" and "not a good guy".

"We build our hope and our stamina for justice by showing up", the Rev. Diane Dulin of the United Church of Christ said in a statement ahead of the rally.

Christian is in custody and facing charges of murder and assault.

Latest News