May Day, traditionally one of the most active dates for street dissent in Oregon, carried few surprises this year. The radical wings of both political persuasions mostly kept to their own company, although Portland leftists continued a protracted battle with law enforcement.
May 1 is International Workers’ Day, regularly drawing large crowds from organized labor and—in Portland, at least—sometimes leading to clashes with police.
The atmosphere was unusually tense this year. In Portland, about 100 masked anti-police protesters are locked in a grudge match with Mayor Ted Wheeler, who has pledged to do everything in his power to end their property damage. And across Oregon, conservatives and business interests are seething at the renewal of COVID-19 restrictions by Gov. Kate Brown.
In that context, Saturday was fairly quiet—though certainly not harmonious.
Hardline conservatives in Salem held a “Second Amendment” rally, opposing face masks and COVID-19 shutdowns and falsely claiming former President Donald Trump was defrauded in the November election.
The event, held in a city park, was guarded by the Proud Boys in case anti-fascists arrived to interrupt it. None did.
Neither did any elected officials show up, even though state Rep. Mike Norman (R-Polk County) was billed as a speaker a day after he was charged with official misconduct for allowing protesters inside the Oregon Capitol last December.
Meanwhile, leftists in Portland protested outside the South Waterfront offices of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
After sunset, a group of about 100 people dressed in black bloc garb continued a well-worn pattern of property damage downtown, shattering windows at City Hall and a Starbucks, and spray-painting graffiti on the Hilton hotel.
Portland police said 22-year-old Jeremiah Day pulled a butterfly knife on officers from 6 feet away. Police said they deployed munitions on Stephens to make him back away, then pursued him for two blocks before arresting him—still with the knife in his hand.
He was among five protesters arrested Saturday night.
Correction: This post has been changed to correct the name and age of the person arrested for brandishing a butterfly knife at officers. Police initially released the wrong name. WW regrets the error.