One of the most absurd and alarming symptoms of the current American sickness returned to the streets of Portland today—which is a fancy way of saying that right-wing and antifascist brawlers lined up to kick each others' asses.
Clad in American flags and garish hats, nearly 100 members of the Vancouver, Wash.-based right-wing protest group Patriot Prayer started sparring with black-clad Antifa counter protesters at Terry Shrunk Plaza around 5 pm today.
The fight comes almost a year to the day after the largest and most chaotic of the standoffs between the two groups, who have regularly behaved more like street gangs than political movements.
That massive confrontation on June 4, 2017 came a week after a brutal stabbing on a Portland MAX train. Everyday Portlanders far outnumbered visiting alt-right celebrities, and the day amounted to a civic refutation of the right-wing extremism that seemed to have fueled the double slaying. (It also raised questions and sparked a lawsuit over the legality of the police response.)
Today's clash is far smaller—no more than 300 people combined. And it represents a reunion of sorts for Patriot Prayer and Antifa, who haven't met in several months.
But it shows the intensity of hatred between the two groups has not waned.
In one violent collision, Antifa protesters screamed "Fuck you Haley, go back to the suburbs" while a brunette in a red flannel shirt was curled in a ball near a park bench, being kicked repeatedly. She was eventually pulled away and lay near the feet of a few cops, shirt ripped and barely moving.
At the same time a balding older man was hollering loudly about his rights to free speech as Antifa landed a few blows to the face.
All the while, a small marching band—including MAX-attack victim Micah Fletcher on drums—played discordant, cheery tunes.
Patriot Prayer struck back.
"Let's show these faggots what we're made of. Put smiles on our faces as we walk through the city, because it's our city," a Patriot Prayer member addressed the crowd from across a Starbucks.
Moments later, blows were thrown in the enclave of a parking garage down the street.
Update from later in the day: Antifascists tear off chunks of concrete as foes lob bottles and cans at each other near the Rose Festival midway.
Cops quickly stepped in to separate the brawl this time, and groups resumed yelling at each other from across the street. Patriot Prayer members held American, British and Gadsden flags—and one vocal, large man at the front of the line wore a neon shirt with the phrase "No Sodomy in Hell."
Many of the right-wing members pleaded with the cops to help them, since the Patriot Prayer protesters were outnumbered by angry antifascists yelling, "Go home, Nazis."
And the cops held the barrier between the two groups firm, still allowing the Freedom March to zigzag randomly around the park blocks. Police also arrested one Antifa protester who had thrown a firecracker at opponents.