U.S. Senate candidate and right-wing march organizer Joey Gibson says his Patriot Prayer protest group, which has triggered massive brawling with antifascists for more than a year, will hold its Aug. 4 rally on the Portland waterfront instead of on federal park land as it has in the recent past.
That venue change is important because it would allow Gibson and his acolytes to open-carry AR-15s and other guns—as they did at a previous march in Seattle, and as watchdogs have warned they will do in Portland next month.
Gibson also stated today that his group will be escorted by armed security as they arrive via bus into the city. Multiple antifascist and progressive groups have pledged to confront Patriot Prayer.
The increased possibility that Patriot Prayer will be carrying guns places more pressure on the Portland Police Bureau and Mayor Ted Wheeler, who say they cannot keep Gibson's rallies out of the city and must instead try to keep the peace.
Previous rallies Gibson has organized on the waterfront have resulted in fistfights between patriots and antifascists. But on other occasions Portland police have been able to keep the two groups separated when they gather near the Salmon Street Springs.
The Aug. 4 event will be the main draw for right-wing protesters arriving from across the country—since it no longer has any competition.
Gibson also said in a video he posted Friday morning that a right-wing rally planned for the following day in Berkeley, Calif. had been cancelled. He blamed the cancellation on in-fighting within the far-right protest movement and the "big mistake" of inviting the American Guard, a white supremacist group founded by a known Klansman. He said Gavin McInnes's decision to discourage Proud Boys from attending the California rally also derailed plans for that protest.
Gibson, who is running for U.S. Senate in Washington state, says members of his movement have been trying to "back stab" him and that "people running around behind the scenes like little demons just chirping in people's ears" to sow discontent among his ranks.
The last Patriot Prayer rally in Portland turned into a riot on June 30, sending five people to the hospital. Gibson says he still expects the Aug. 4 demonstration to be "one of the biggest rallies" he's hosted in Portland.
Gibson suggested that violence at the Aug. 4 event was inevitable. "Obviously self-defense is going to happen," he told his followers on Facebook.