A man in American flag pants runs past an exploding firework
A firework explodes next to far-right members as they fight with antifascist protesters on Sunday, Aug. 22. Sean Bascom

Update Aug. 23, 2 pm:

Sponsored
Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit - Live at Keller Auditorium March 4!
Jason Isbell has established himself as one of the most respected songwriters of his generation. Don’t miss Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, March 4th at Keller Auditorium!

Nearly 24 hours after antifascists and right-wing protesters clashed in Northeast Portland Sunday, Mayor Ted Wheeler issued his first statement on the violence, supporting the lack of police intervention.

"In the past, these same groups have clashed with extremely violent and destructive results," Wheeler said in a press release. "This time, violence was contained to the groups of people who chose to engage in violence toward each other. The community at large was not harmed and the broader public was protected. Property damage was minimal."

Wheeler said the city's anti-violence press conferences that urged the opposing groups to "choose love" leading up to Sunday's events were "effective" because the right-wing rally was relocated from downtown Portland to Northeast Portland.

Right-wing protesters shot paintball guns at antifascist protesters lobbing fireworks along NE 122nd Ave, a busy thoroughfare in a diverse Portland neighborhood. A video shared online by a Portland Tribune reporter showed at least one family with young children running to their car to escape the munitions and aerosolized chemicals. Later in the afternoon, a man who witnesses said was connected to the right-wing protesters opened fire in downtown Portland near an antifascist rally.

Wheeler said the Portland police will continue to investigate criminal behavior in connection with Sunday's rallies.

"We will continue to work for the safety of all Portlanders and do what’s best for the city that we call home," Wheeler said.

Original story, Aug. 22, 10:30 pm:

Far-right and antifascist protesters fought in Northeast Portland Sunday, shooting paintball guns and deploying aerosolized chemicals during a “Summer of Love'' rally put on by conservative activists. Just as they said earlier this week, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) did not intervene.

Right-wing protesters, including members of the Proud Boys, claimed their rally was intended to “spread love not hate,” while also marking the one-year anniversary of a rally in downtown Portland in which right-wing groups shot paintball guns and deployed bear mace at antifascist counter-protesters with minimal police intervention. While this year's rally was originally planned to take place in downtown Portland, event organizers relocated the event to a vacant department store parking lot near the Parkrose neighborhood—a diverse neighborhood where many Portlanders of color live—after antifascist protesters planned a counter-protest downtown.

Two people in unicorn costumes holding anti-fascism signs
Antifascist protesters gather in downtown Portland during a counter-protest Aug. 22. Sean Bascom

In the early afternoon, far-right protesters and antifascist counter-protesters gathered at their respective events. About 100 members of the far-right listened to speeches decrying the antifascist movement, making erroneous claims that COVID-19 vaccines kill people, and calling for the release of those arrested during the US Capitol insurrection on January 6, who they referred to as “political prisoners.” Meanwhile, around 200 antifascist protesters gathered on Portland’s waterfront, waving Black Lives Matter flags and holding signs with messages denouncing fascism. The group eventually created a barricade of street signs and other construction materials from a nearby site, blocking traffic along Naito Parkway.

The opposing groups stayed at their respective events until 4 pm when a couple dozen counter-protesters dressed in black clothing clashed with right-wing members over the length of several blocks in Northeast Portland. Paintballs, fireworks, white paint, and aerosolized chemicals, such as smoke bombs and mace, were deployed as the face-off spilled out onto 122nd Ave, a busy thoroughfare. Far-right protesters attacked several cars with bats, overturned a van, and the driver of one vehicle appeared to have been beaten.

A group of people swarm a white van.
Far-right protesters and members of the Proud Boys attack a van that antifascist counter-protesters drove. Sean Bascom

Portland police did not respond to the scene and, after 30 minutes of fighting, the two sides eventually separated.

A PPB spokesperson said officers were monitoring the fight from an airplane.

The PPB acknowledged the event in a press release, stating that “officers were not deployed to stand in between individuals intent on confronting one another.” Police Chief Chuck Lovell made similar remarks last week, noting that while Sunday would be an “all hands on deck day” for officers, people should not expect to see a police presence. Lovell said the hands-off approach was an effort to keep police officers safe, and that arrests may be made at a later time.

Support The Portland Mercury

However, police did respond to a shooting in downtown Portland around 5:45 pm, about four blocks away from the antifascist protest. Reporters from OPB and the Portland Tribune, who witnessed the shooting, reported PPB taking one man into custody after he fired a half dozen shots. A PPB spokesperson later confirmed the man was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful use of a weapon. It’s unclear if the gunman was shooting at anyone in particular, but in videos shared on social media, a second shooter can be heard firing back at the man. No one was injured.

While witnesses on the scene claimed the man was associated with the right wing group, a PPB spokesperson said it is currently unknown if the shooting was connected to the protests. The man was released on bail early Monday morning.

Antifascist counter-protesters stayed downtown into the evening, and the day concluded without any additional clashes.

Sponsored
SLAY Film Fest
In person at the Clinton St. Theater 10/29 & 10/30