On Sept. 26, Gov. Kate Brown marshaled a coordinated response of several Oregon law enforcement agencies to keep dueling groups of protesters apart. It worked: Several hundred visiting Proud Boys gathered on sodden soccer fields in North Portland, then left town without incident.
Scenes from the day show little common ground.
In Delta Park, the Proud Boys—a far-right men's group—strolled with cold Coors Lights in their hands, bear mace on their belts and loaded rifles slung across their chests. They sang along to Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A." Amid the XXL-sized American flags, the implication was clear: This is what it means to be a patriot, and other viewpoints aren't just wrong but un-American. "As a Black man, a person of intelligence, Black Lives Matter is not a movement for Black people," said one participant, James Sullivan, in a speech. "It is a Marxist movement."
Hours later, Black protesters and their allies, who had started the day in different parts of town, convened at Irving Park. Some feared the Proud Boys would confront them there. (They didn't—police directed them north on Interstate 5 out of the city.) Others came prepared to defend themselves. With rifles slung on their shoulders and handguns on their hips, members of a Black community group arrived at Irving Park decked out in body armor and tactical gear. "We're not here to protest or counterprotest," said a man who identified himself as Ogun. "We're here for the safety of our people. That's it."