A sudden march by Proud Boys through downtown Portland tonight turned into a melee, as tensions between radical groups stoked by national media erupted in a street brawl that police struggled to contain.
Right-wing extremists and masked antifascists clashed on the street outside of Kelly's Olympian, a downtown bar. Several brutal fights broke out at once, with black-clad leftists swinging at their MAGA-hat wearing adversaries. Some of the right-wingers struck with batons. Both sides used pepper spray.
Video by Mike Bivins.
Joey Gibson, the leader of Vancouver, Wash.-based protest group Patriot Prayer, organized the march in response to a series of conservative media stories criticizing Mayor Ted Wheeler and Portland police for a hands-off response to small protests against police brutality last weekend. A couple of videos showing protesters yelling at motorists and standing in the street led Fox News and others to criticize Wheeler for allowing "mob rule" in his city.
Adding to the already high tensions between warring protest groups in Portland, videos showing a large group of Proud Boys beating two or three protesters in New York City after attending a Friday event at the city's GOP headquarters drew widespread attention today. The videos led national media to scrutinize the Proud Boys, a fringe group that has close ties with Gibson and Patriot Prayer.
Tonight, the Patriot Prayer crowd, peppered with Proud Boys and others sporting American flags and "Don't Tread On Me" banners, marched through downtown Portland shouting about unseating Wheeler and sending Antifa home.
The crowd chanted "USA" as it approached a vigil for Patrick Kimmons, a man fatally shot by Portland police last month. The leftist protesters at the vigil had been chanting "Black Lives Matter." Someone in the left-wing crowd set an American flag on fire, but a Patriot Prayer marcher snagged it before it could burn to ashes.
Shortly after leaving the vigil, some people in the far-right crowd clashed with antifascist protesters for the first time. After exchanging insults, a masked left-wing protester pepper sprayed a handful of right-wing supporters.
But the true chaos broke out later, shortly before 8 pm, on Southwest Washington Street outside Kelly's Olympian.
A man who appeared to be Tusitala "Tiny" Toese kicked a counter-protester who was on the ground. Another right-wing supporter ran up and stomped on the man's face. One of his fellow protesters pushed him away and said "Let him go."
Video by Mike Bivins.
Portland police intervened to break up some of the skirmishes. An officer can be seen on video firing pepper balls at four right-wing protesters who were beating a single antifascist protester on the ground.
The street brawl is just the latest in a long list of violent clashes between Patriot Prayer and antifascist protesters. Past run-ins have sent people to the hospital.