(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A flag is seen on the sidewalk following clashes in Portland
By Deborah Bloom
PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) – Around one thousand supporters of the right-wing Proud Boys group, some armed, rallied in Portland, Oregon on Saturday in a largely peaceful event that drew far fewer followers than organizers forecast and state authorities had feared.
The rally in a north Portland park ended after a few hours of speeches and chants, many against anti-fascists and Black Lives Matter groups which held a nearby counter-protest.
The Democratic-run city has seen four months of near-daily demonstrations by left-wing groups against police violence and racism, many ending in violence.
“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,” said Proud Boys supporter Haley Adams.
The Proud Boys had forecast a crowd of at least 10,000 and Portland’s police chief on Friday said he saw chances of a “very, very large” gathering.
State Governor Kate Brown declared a weekend state of emergency for Oregon’s biggest city, saying “white supremacist groups” were traveling from out of state to attend the rally called by the Proud Boys to “end domestic terrorism” in Portland.
Proud Boys leaders said the group’s presence 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 chairman Enrique Tarrio said in video on the group’s Parler page.
Democratic presidential hopeful former Vice President Joe Biden has said Trump’s rhetoric is stoking political violence.
As the Proud Boys rally broke up, Portland Police stopped multiple vehicles for traffic violations, confiscated firearms, paintball guns, baseball bats and shields, and issued two citations for unlawful firearm possession. As of 10 p.m. police reported four arrests and no serious violence.
The city remained on edge into the night given fears of clashes.
Local and state leaders said in a letter to the community that Proud Boys supporters had openly discussed military-style tactical operations and planned to cause chaos and violence while claiming to be acting in support of police.
Police said they were investigating an assault of one person documenting the Proud Boys rally and a total of four people were arrested.
The men-only Proud Boys group describes itself as a fraternal organization that “venerates the housewife” and is “anti-political correctness.”
Civil rights group The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the Proud Boys as a hate group, citing its members’ anti-Muslim and misogynist rhetoric.
Proud Boys Portland rally smaller than expected, city hopes for calm
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