Hillary Clinton's arrival in Portland was met with a feeble protest tonight from a diminishing handful of fringe right-wing figures who have gained fame in Portland this year by threatening violence.
Tonight, the red-hatted Patriot Prayer brawlers confronted the woman whose presidential bid sparked their movement—and couldn't summon enough supporters to disrupt traffic.
Two groups of activists lined Main Street in front of the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.
On one side, Joey Gibson and about 50 of his far-right goons sported "Lock Her Up" and "Build the Wall" signs. On the other, a smaller group of masked antifascist protesters in black shouted "Go home, Nazis."
A small group of Portland police officers confiscated a broom and a couple metal flag poles. They didn't force the two groups to stay separated, and though a few were outfitted in riot gear, the police used a light touch with protesters.
After standing around for about an hour, Vancouver, Wash.-based Patriot Prayer started marching around the side of the concert hall. Antifa members set out in the opposite direction. The two groups collided in the middle of the block on Southwest Broadway between Main and Salmon streets.
Tusitala "Tiny" Toese, arrested last weekend, goaded his opponents in black, taunting them to take their masks off. A few small scuffles broke out; people shoved one another back and forth on the sidewalk. Police pulled one man out of the crowd and ordered the protesters to march on. They did.
Walking past the line of eager Portlanders waiting to get into Hillary Clinton's event (she was promoting her new book, What Happened), the Patriot Prayer supporters shouted allegations that Clinton was a criminal. The line barely acknowledged the comments; a few people shouted for the group to go home and grow up.
Tina Zollinger, a retired mortgage lender who lives in Redmond, Wash. said she came out to protest Clinton, who she sees as one of the worst politicians in the U.S. right now.
"Hillary is embarrassing as a woman," Zollinger said, draped in a black "Don't Tread On Me" flag. "She complains. She blames. She stayed with her philandering husband. A lot of Democrats think that, too. I think she's actually doing more harm to the party than good right now."
Antifa activists burned an American flag, but the symbolic protest mostly fell flat. Moments later, the crowd heard the news that Roy Moore lost his election in Alabama. They started chanting in unison, "Moore lost, Moore lost!" The Patriot Prayer crowd booed and shouted back.
By 8 pm, the protest had shrunk to just a few of the most devoted. One masked Antifa protester shouted "Nazi sympathizers, every one of you."
On the opposite side of the street, someone shouted back "We're not Nazis."
This dance has gotten a little old.
Photos by Joe Michael Riedl.