A right-wing militia member caught on camera helping Homeland Security arrest a counter-protester tells The Intercept that a federal officer asked for his assistance.
The actions of the militia member—captured by Oregon Public Broadcasting photographer aiding in the arrest of his political opposite—have been one of the lingering questions from the June 4 protests that roiled downtown Portland.
Today, reporter Arun Gupta of The Intercept provided new clues to solving several of those mysteries.
He reports that the militia member's name is Todd Kelsay, and that he is affiliated with American Freedom Keepers.
The Freedom Keepers have appeared as a camouflage-garbed security force at "free speech" confrontations up and down the west coast hosted by the nationalist movement known as the "alt-right." They describe themselves as a "patriot" group, and recently protested the removal of Confederate monuments in New Orleans.
American Freedom Keepers were one of several right-wing militias, including the insurrectionist Oath Keepers, who provided private security for Terry Schrunk Plaza on June 4. They were outnumbered by a ring of Homeland Security officers who formed a wall around three sides of the federal park—but acted as bouncers and eager assistants to the feds.
American Freedom Keepers has made appearances at at least one prior Portland event: a "free speech march" along Souttheast 82nd Avenue in April.
Kelsay tells The Intercept that he helped with the arrest when asked by a Homeland Security officer.
"I was asked, while I was on the ground, by a police officer, 'Help me, hand me the handcuffs.' He was looking at me. So I handed him the cuffs," Kelsay tells The Intercept.
His account intensifies the scrutiny of whether law enforcement took ideological sides during dueling rallies held Sunday in the wake of a double murder, allegedly committed by a white supremacist with ties to alt-right movements.
Gupta, a freelance reporter, says he spoke to Kelsay for three hours. The Guardian also spoke to Kelsay this afternoon, who confirmed his account.
Meanwhile, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler's office tells WW he will be sending the Portland Police Bureau a letter asking for more information about law-enforcement tactics during Sunday's protests.
"The mayor is the police commissioner, and takes his management responsibilities seriously," says Wheeler's spokesman Michael Cox. "While he is tremendously grateful that the weekend demonstration concluded without serious violence, he believes it's important to review tactics after a significant police action. Our office is drafting a letter to PPB command containing a request for additional information on several topics."