As Arrests Mount, At Least One Far-Right Paramilitary Group Has Bailed Out of the Aug. 17 Rally in Portland

Recent arrests and stern warnings from city officials may be deflating right-wing enthusiasm for the Aug. 17 rally.

A paramilitary member at a Portland protest in 2017. (William Gagan)

As the number of far-right protesters arrested for a May 1 riot grows, some right-wing groups are thinking twice about coming to Portland on Saturday for a rally targeting antifascists.

Just two days before the "End Domestic Terrorism" rally planned by Florida-based right-wing radio host Joe Biggs, the founder and national president of right-wing paramilitary group the Oath Keepers published a statement warning his followers to stay away from downtown Portland on Aug. 17.

"We have not seen adequate steps taken by the organizers to exclude known or suspected white nationalists from attending this event," says Oath Keepers president Stewart Rhodes in a lengthy statement on the group's official website.

He also points to violent memes and threats posted on social media by Biggs and his followers, which Rhodes says puts rally attendees at risk of being arrested or sued.

"Frankly, given the prior statements of Joe Biggs that will be used against all attendees of his rally, it would be best for the patriot/conservative cause if this August 17 rally were simply canceled," Rhodes says.

The Oath Keepers abandoned the Aug. 17 rally shortly after a sixth far-right provocateur faced criminal charges for a May 1 attack on antifascists carried out by supporters of Patriot Prayer, Portland's Liberation and at least one former Proud Boy.

While the Oath Keepers distance themselves from the rally, another paramilitary group complained about the six arrests made in the past week.

"PPB has arrested 6 Patriots and 0 Antifa ahead of PDX Saturday," writes the Three Percent of Washington, a local chapter of the Three Percenters paramilitary group, on Facebook. "They are using sealed indictments to hide Ted Wheeler's bias as Police Commissioner/Mayor and Antifa supporter. Warrants are being executed by U.S. Marshals."

The arrests and stern warnings from city officials who have said violence and white supremacists are not welcome in Portland may be having the intended effect of deflating right-wing enthusiasm for the Aug. 17 rally.

Portland law enforcement officials have arrested and charged some key players in local far-right extremist groups that may leave the local right-wing contingent rudderless. Patriot Prayer's Joey Gibson and five other men—former Proud Boy Russell Schultz, Matthew "Deme" Cooper, Ian Kramer, Mackenzie Lewis, and so-called "cop watcher" Christopher Ponte—all face criminal charges related to the May Day riot they started.

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