The show must go on.
In the latest staging of extremist political theater that has begun to carry the whiff of professional wrestling, a far right "march for freedom" took to the Portland Waterfront tonight without disrupting the larger entertainment at the Waterfront Blues Festival.
The march included elements that are now standard whenever the "alt-right" and its associates come to town and meet antifascists: speeches about right-wing victimhood, smoke bombs, bare-knuckle brawling and defiling of each others' chosen flags.
Tonight was the first return to Portland by the Vancouver, Wash.-based group Patriot Prayer since a June 4 event that Mayor Ted Wheeler tried to prevent. That rally, held in the wake of a MAX-train double slaying, brought the threat of serious violence to a raw city.
Tonight's possibilities were less menacing, although the prospect of far-right and racially inflammatory "Proud Boys" marching near a celebration of blues music worried some.
But so far tonight, the right-wing marchers and their antifascist foils have been more interested in sparring with each other than harassing the crowds.
Starting about 6 pm, the Patriot Prayer group marched northbound along Tom McCall Waterfront Park, with antifascist counter-protesters tailing closely behind. The march would pause periodically for speeches, where tensions flared.
During the march's stop at the Battleship Oregon Memorial, someone on the left-wing side tossed a blue smoke bomb onto the monument Shortly after this stop, the group stopped, a commotion ensued, and multiple American flags were set ablaze by the counterprotesters. A fight ensued.
Video by Mike Bivins.
During the fight, well-known local Patriot Prayer protester "Tiny" Toese punched a counterprotester, and others in "Proud Boy" black and gold trim could be seen delivering several stiff punches to another counterprotester. Kicks were delivered by standing alt-right protesters to downed counterprotester. Later, Toese could be seen sporting glitter on his face—evidence he had been "glitter-bombed" by antifa—and exclaimed aloud that he had glitter in his eyes.
Tiny eventually produced an antifascist flag, which was apparently stolen, and wiped it between his legs before returning it to the opposition.