Portland IWW Union Hall and Cider Riot Vandalized With Graffiti Targeting Antifa

Right-wing extremists who have been targeting the IWW House for a week called the vandalism a "false flag," despite repeated threats on social media.

Cider Riot (Emily Joan Greene)

Vandals broke a window and spray painted "Antifa House" and "Smash Communism" on the front porch and side of the Industrial Workers of the World union hall on East Burnside Street in the early hours of Jan. 24.

They also tagged the nearby bar Cider Riot with "Fuck Antifa" and X's on the business's windows and a mural painted by a Japanese artist named Peach Momoko. A $200 flag with the cidery's logo was stolen.

Cider Riot founder Abram Goldman-Armstrong says he thinks the bar was targeted because it is hosting a “Rock Against Fascism” show this weekend.
“We’re pro-including everyone and basically we’ve been harassed by Patriot Prayer and a lot of these right-wing groups in the past because we are a safe space for everybody,” Goldman-Armstrong says.

He says he has specifically been singled out for an imagined affiliation with antifascist organizers.

“At one stage they said I funded Antifa,” he says. “I think they just saw a Jewish name and thought I was like George Soros or something like that. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We’re a small business just trying to make ends meet here.”

Goldman-Armstrong says Central City Concern's graffiti response team helped clean the mess almost as soon as it was found.

The labor union's building, which is also used by left-leaning non-profits and political organizations like the Democratic Socialists of America, has been the center of nearly a week's worth of activity from far-right extremists.

Vancouver, Wash.-based agitator Joey Gibson and his followers tried to interrupt a DSA meeting on Jan. 17, but they were turned away at the door. A few antifascist demonstrators, which DSA says did not belong to their political group, tussled with the right-wing group.

Right-wing brawler Tusitala "Tiny" Toese claimed in a Facebook video that his friend and fellow Proud Boy Jason James pulled a gun and scared DSA members by waving it around. But spokespeople for the DSA and the Portland Police refute that claim.

Portland police responded to the Jan. 17 incident, and recorded a report about a fight between a handful of men that may have involved "batons and projectiles," but no firearms.

Two days later, Patriot Prayer supporters and Proud Boys meandered outside the IWW house. They tried to clash with antifascists, but the few mild scuffles ended quickly. One video posted on Twitter shows right-wing figurehead Haley Adams holding a pink taser to one protester's neck, but she did not trigger an electric shock.

The Democratic Socialist blamed Patriot Prayer for this morning's vandalism.

In the night last night, [Patriot Prayer] escalated once again by vandalizing the IWW hall,” DSA co-chairwoman Olivia Katbi Smith said in a statement. “No members were injured during this attack. We are working with our security volunteers and allied organizations to monitor the situation.”

The vandalism likely occurred between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. on Jan. 24.

"While Patriot Prayer, the Proud Boys and their supporters have continued to show up to our meetings and outside our office to harass, threaten, and attempt to attack our members, our organization, and our allies, we have used deescalation tactics and otherwise been entirely nonresponsive, which enrages these fascists who are very clearly seeking out a fight and media attention," Katbi Smith says. "We will not be deterred by violent misogynistic white supremacists who attempt to disrupt our efforts."

But the right-wing groups who have been targeting the IWW house for a week called the vandalism a "false flag," despite repeated threats posted by Patriot Prayer supporters in videos on social media targeting antifascists and the Democratic Socialists of America. (At least one of the far-right videos also names Portland mayor Ted Wheeler as a target of the group's malice.)

Gibson posted on Facebook less than two hours after IWW made photos of the damage public, accusing antifascist activists of trying to frame his group.

"Antifa came up to the Democratic Socialist of America house (their own house) yesterday and put graffiti on it pretending that we did it," he wrote on Facebook. "Wait this graffiti looks very similar doesn't it?"

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.