A right-wing rally with the theme "No to Marxism in America" led, unsurprisingly, to brawling in downtown streets near the Multnomah County Justice Center early Saturday afternoon. Opposing left-wing groups protected themselves with shields, while some right-wingers, including Proud Boys, openly carried guns.
Video and photos posted by the Portland chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, among others, showed at least one right-wing protester pulling his weapon on a crowd in the midst of a brawl.
paintball and mace guy from earlier tweet now pulls a real gun pic.twitter.com/xbLOziJgPZ— Portland DSA (@PortlandDSA) August 22, 2020
Reporters, including Katie Shepherd of The Washington Post and freelance journalist Sergio Olmos, provided running coverage on Twitter. Both noted that Portland police allowed violent skirmishes to proceed. Olmos filmed federal police swarming only after the right-wing protesters left the area.
Still no police intervention. pic.twitter.com/toWFw1W1pA— Katie Shepherd (@katemshepherd) August 22, 2020
Feds come out and disperse, unlawful assembly declared after trump supporters leave pic.twitter.com/TI4i2GYKah— Sergio Olmos (@MrOlmos) August 22, 2020
In a statement after the event, the Portland Police Bureau responded to questions why it had not intervened to halt the violent clashes.
"Incident commanders have to weigh out the entire situation to determine if police action is likely to make things safer or not. In this case there were hundreds of individuals and many weapons within the groups and an extremely limited amount of police resources actually available to address such a crowd," the bureau said. "Additionally, PPB members have been the focus of over 80 days of violent actions directed at the police, which is a major consideration for determining if police resources are necessary to interject between two groups with individuals who appear to be willingly engaging in physical confrontations for short durations.
"While the activity in the group met the definition of a riot, PPB did not declare one because there were not adequate police resources available to address such a declaration. PPB had roughly 30 officers available for crowd management and there were several hundred individuals associated with the events downtown."