Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson speaking at a 2017 rally in Portland.
Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson speaking at a 2017 rally in Portland. Doug Brown

Our alt-right neighbors to the north made an unwelcome visit to Portland's Eastside this weekend.

On Saturday, members of Patriot Prayer—the Vancouver-based group of militant right-wingers—gathered outside Portland's Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) union office on E Burnside and 22nd protesting the alleged attack on two of their members there two nights prior.

According to a video posted on the group's Facebook page, Patriot Prayer members showed up at the IWW headquarters the previous night to try and attend a Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) meeting being held there, and were turned away. Those in the Facebook video, including Haley Adams (the woman behind the anti-MeToo rally in November), say members of Antifa approached the out-of-towners on the sidewalk outside and threw punches that sent two members of Patriot Prayer to the hospital.

In an email to the Portland Mercury, Portland DSA co-chair Olivia Katbi Smith confirms that there was some kind of altercation that took place outside the building during their meeting, "which DSA has no knowledge of and in which no DSA members were involved."

Patriot Prayer decided to respond to this incident by rallying in front of the IWW office Saturday afternoon and spouting hateful messages at observers.

In a video taken during the event, one man shouts through a loudspeaker: "Get them dirty Muslims out of our country." He goes on to tell a woman standing on the other side of Burnside that "it was a blessing" for her husband to die.

In another video, members of Patriot Prayer appear to cross Burnside to confront a couple people wearing bandanas over their faces, filming the rally from afar. At least ten people with Patriot Prayer surround the two people, shouting and pushing them against a storefront window. The bandana-ed people escape this angry mob by entering the shop.

Asked by a passerby why the group crossed the street, someone with Patriot Prayer responds: "Because they're freaking violent...We can't put up with it anymore."

In one video, a Portland police officer is seen walking up to a member of Patriot Prayer—but the video cuts off before the interaction begins.

In an email, Portland Police Bureau (PPB) spokesperson Sergeant Pete Simpson, said that police were "present on/off" at the protest Saturday afternoon. Officers appeared to be stretched thin: The Patriot Prayer event was only one of several protest planned for the day—including a rally supporting women's reproductive rights in Downtown Portland.

"No real significant street violence or clashes at any of the events, but there were some small confrontations," Simpson wrote. "No arrests at any event."

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This appears to be Patriot Prayer's first Portland protest of 2019. In November, Mayor Ted Wheeler attempted to limit the group's disruptive and disturbing visits by tightening the city's protest ordinance, but his proposal was deemed unconstitutional by ACLU lawyers and it failed a Portland City Council vote. It's not clear if the city has an alternative plan to keep the alt-right group out of Downtown Portland in the new year. If anything, this weekend's visit shows that Patriot Prayer isn't planning on staying away in 2019.

DSA's Katbi Smith says that the Thursday incident at IWW wasn't the first time members of Patriot Prayer have tried to attend and disrupt their meetings.

"We have used deescalation tactics and otherwise been entirely non-responsive, which enrages these fascists who are very clearly seeking out a fight and media attention," Katbi Smith wrote in an email. "We will not be deterred by violent misogynistic white supremacists who attempt to disrupt our efforts; we will continue to organize to build a better world for all."