In the early hours of dueling protests, Portland police have kept a visiting group of right-wing muscle far from the antifascist adversaries they came here to target.
A group of Proud Boys, organized by a Florida talk radio host, arrived on the Portland waterfront today to demand antifascists be designated a domestic terror group. Their visit has once again raised fears of a bloody street confrontation.
The Proud Boys and antifascists, or antifa, both entered Tom McCall Waterfront Park. But police forced the Proud Boys and their allies, roughly 200 in total, to mass on the south side of the Morrison Bridge, while antifascists and other leftists gathered on the north side. Between them: concrete barriers and a line of police officers.
At about 11:45, the Proud Boys and their allies crossed the Hawthorne Bridge to the east and gathered adjacent to Portland Fire & Rescue Station 21.
The group circled around Florida radio host Joe Biggs, who wore a "Make Frogs Straight Again" hat and pledged to hold a rally every month until Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler reigns in antifa. The group then took selfies and sang the country standard "Proud to be an American."
A moment of near violence occurred as a young man who appeared not to like the Proud Boys found himself in the middle of an angry scrum. The crowd swarmed but before he was hurt, bicycle police raced to his rescue and ushered him away.
At 12:20, the Proud Boys stood aimlessly, as speculation was that antifa was heading across the bridge.
Among the right-wing crowd: Vancouver, Wash.-based protest organizer Joey Gibson, who turned himself to police Friday on a felony riot charge. He described the criminal charge as an attempt to muzzle him.
"I got arrested for exercising my First Amendment rights, Gibson told the assembled Proud Boys. "Everybody knows I don't fight. I'll never plead guilty."
Meanwhile, antifascists and their allies, numbering perhaps 500 people, were allowed to move south past the barriers, but were stopped by a police line at the Hawthorne Bridge on-ramp. They were not allowed to follow the Proud Boys east, leaving the two groups separated by the Willamette River, for now.
"Where are the Nazis?" a woman asked while walking amid the leftists. "They're hiding."