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Portland escapes violence that many predicted at far-right rally

Despite the lack of wide-scale bloodshed, far-right Patriot Prayer group claims success.

Saturday's far-right rally in Portland, led by Joey Gibson (center), was thankfully less violent than many predicted. CREDIT: GETTY / STEVE DYKES
Saturday's far-right rally in Portland, led by Joey Gibson (center), was thankfully less violent than many predicted. CREDIT: GETTY / STEVE DYKES

Yesterday’s far-right rally in Portland, Oregon, had all the markings of a potentially deadly conflagration. Not only was the rally, organized by the far-right Patriot Prayer and Proud Boys groups, coming near the one-year anniversary of last year’s fatal violence in Charlottesville, Virginia — as well as just over a year after a far-right man killed a pair in Portland itself — but, just five weeks ago, another confrontation between Patriot Prayer and counter-protesters in Portland devolved into an outright riot.

Thankfully, though, none of the bloodshed predicted came to pass. As The Oregonian reported, the protest “resulted in little violence between the two groups.” However, that doesn’t mean that the day ended peacefully, or without tense moments.

At one point, Patriot Prayer organizer Joey Gibson walked directly toward and into a crowd of antifa counter-protesters, but was forcibly removed before violence could escalate.

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Elsewhere, at least one woman was hospitalized due to an arm fracture after being hit with a flash-bang grenade fired by police, who were trying to force a group of antifa protesters onto the other side of the main road separating them from the far-right ralliers. Likewise, a reporter with The Oregonian received a blow to the head after being hit with a projectile thrown by the counter-protesters.

Portland police appeared to direct their primary focus on the counter-protesters yesterday, who numbered about 1,000. As The Guardian reported, the rally “culminated in a police charge on counterprotesters… us[ing] dozens of ‘flash bang’ stun grenades and rounds containing pepper spray.”

As Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw said in a statement, “Unfortunately, today, some people chose to commit illegal acts of violence, which required members of the Police Bureau to take action in order to keep all participants and non-participants safe.” At least four people were arrested.

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While there was relatively little violence between the two groups, the primary organizers behind yesterday’s far-right group, including Patriot Prayer’s “Tiny” Toese, viewed the day as a success — and that Portland police “did their job.”

The rally was Patriot Prayer’s largest to date, with about 400 supporters in attendance — many of whom were armed, and many of whom arrived, quixotically, in Confederate insignia.

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Gibson is also currently running a long-shot campaign for Senator in Washington State. He told The Guardian’s Jason Wilson that his next rally would be Aug. 18 in Seattle.