Yesterday, the Portland Police Bureau's top brass told reporters that officers had encountered several individuals with loaded firearms prior to an August 4 protest organized by Patriot Prayer, a right-wing activist group. The officers did not charge or arrest the individuals because they all had permits allowing them to carry a concealed weapon, but they did confiscate the weapons. Deputy Chief Ryan Lee told reporters the individuals were associated with Patriot Prayer.
Now, less than 24 hours later, PPB's telling a different story.
According to PPB spokesperson Christopher Burley, a sergeant encountered four men hanging out on the top floor of a parking garage located about three blocks from Salmon Springs Fountain—where the Patriot Prayer protest was expected to take place later that day. The men had three rifles—all in cases and all unloaded—with them and had ammo on hand.
"The men told the sergeant they were going to stay at the garage and act as a quick extraction team in case any of their group was injured during the demonstration," said Burley.
Going against Lee's retelling of the event, Burley said the sergeant did not confiscate any of the rifles.
"In consultation with the City Attorney's Office, the sergeant told the men to store the weapons in a locked storage container in the back of the pickup and place the ammo away from the weapons in a different part of the truck," said Burley.
So, essentially: A sergeant encountered a group of men who brought rifles and ammo to a predictably violent protest in downtown Portland, and told them to just put the ammo in a different part of their car.
What makes this more troubling is that, according to Burley, since "there was no imminent danger to the public," no police reports were written about this incident.
Perhaps that's why Burley and Lee's stories contradict each other: There is no actual recording of the encounter to go off of.