Far-right groups gathered in Portland on Sunday for an event they called the “Summer of Love,” even as the date for the rally was chosen to commemorate an extraordinarily violent clash last summer in the city. . The event ended with a traveling brawl through the busy city streets in the Parkrose neighborhood, and shots were fired in downtown Portland. No one was reported injured in the shooting
Anti-fascists and far-left demonstrators gathered in the city center earlier in the day to oppose the far-right rally. The two sides eventually clashed in northeast Portland after staying apart for hours, leaving a wave of violence that stretched the blocks.
After the violence in northeast Portland ended, an unidentified man fired a handgun at what appeared to be a group of downtown anti-fascists. Portland police intervened and arrested the man. Video posted online also appears to show someone fired back after the man opened fire. No information was immediately available on what led to the shooting.
Earlier today, organizers of the far-right event announced they were moving their rally from Waterfront Park downtown to a commercial parking lot in northeast Portland. Hundreds of people from the anti-fascist group gathered at Waterfront Park, despite the move.
Far-right activists, meanwhile, set up a stage on a small trailer in the commercial parking lot along northeast 122nd Avenue.
Photos and videos posted online showed members of the Proud Boys – an often violent far-right group – rallying and speaking at the conservative event. Among them was Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, who was convicted of committing acts of violence during protests.
âWe are not going to withdraw,â Toese said. He added his band “weren’t playing this time,” but said they had no plans to leave the northeast Portland site on Sunday.
Various speakers on the Proud Boy stage called those indicted in the January 6 uprising on the United States Capitol as “political prisoners.” As the protest continued, anti-fascists in Waterfront Park began to rally outside the Proud Boys event.
Throughout the day, members of each camp exchanged words and struggled, but no noticeable violence had taken place during the early hours of the rallies. That changed just after 4 p.m., as the Proud Boys and anti-fascists raced along 122nd Avenue, exchanging paintballs and mace of bears. Some people in the crowd threw mortar fireworks near a Chevron gas station, which had to close.
Members of the anti-fascist mob shouted at local journalists following the fray. They then sprayed the reporters with chemicals and paint, and a a local freelance photographer was attacked and injured.
Portland Police did not show up as the two sides clashed.
Witnesses said the violence started when a white van attempted to pull over in the parking lot where the âSummer of Loveâ event was taking place. Members of the Proud Boys then overturned the van.
“That van right here that’s on the side tried to pull over in the parking lot, and all these Proud Boys gate keepers started hitting it with bats and smashing the windows,” he told ‘OPB a witness, who did not want to be identified.
The witness said people got out of the van and started running away as the Proud Boys attacked them.
âI saw this guy beat a woman. There were like two ladies who were touched. It was a nightmare, it was fucking terrifying, âthey said.
The witness said they had lived in Portland for 15 years and had practiced driving in a nearby lot with another person. They denounced the lack of police intervention in the violence that took place.
“If it was in Laurelhurst, it wouldn’t happen,” said the witness, referring to an affluent area in the interior of Portland. “They would’ve closed that shit already.”
During the clashes, the Proud Boys were also filmed attacking people and vehicles they believed to be with the anti-fascists. After the groups disengaged from each other, Toese and other Proud Boys continued to drive around the Parkrose neighborhood shooting paintballs at people.
The Portland Police Office has frequently cited staffing shortages as the reason larger contingents of officers cannot separate groups that have historically engaged in political violence.
âThe Portland Police Office is ready to monitor this event and can make felony arrests when resources permit. It doesn’t always happen in the moment, âthe office said in a written statement Friday. âJust because arrests aren’t made at the scene, when tensions are high, doesn’t mean people won’t be charged with crimes later. “
Speaking at an online “choose love” event Friday, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and other metro area leaders broadly condemned the political violence that has become routine in Portland.
When asked if unchecked political violence was inevitable, Wheeler said there were discussions online suggesting people were planning to come to Portland on Sunday specifically to fight.
âWe tell them, ‘No, no,’ said Wheeler. âIf they come here, if they engage in this type of activity, we’re going to do our best, with the resources we have, to empower people.
Wheeler did not immediately return requests for comment on the violence.
Eric Ward, executive director of the Western States Center, called Sunday’s events “deeply disturbing.” The group, which tracks right-wing extremism, called the violence predictable for those who had followed the events leading up to the protests.
âThe idea that Portland, or any city, can single-handedly defeat white nationalism is wrong. This incident must be a wake-up call to elected leaders at all levels, âWard said in a written statement. âThis is a national problem that requires national resources. Undemocratic violence is a threat that strikes at the heart of who we are as a country. It’s time to act like this.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.