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As Promised, Portland Police Did Nothing While Proud Boys Spread Violence Throughout City

Ahead of a Proud Boys rally–ironically or intentionally misnamed “Summer of Love: United We Stand Divided We Fall”–in Portland, Oregon, on Sunday (which was forced to move from its original waterfront location to a shuttered Kmart parking lot on the city’s Eastside near the airport), city leadership and law enforcement made it clear they wouldn’t be “interfering” in any actions taken by the group recently designated as a domestic terrorist group in Canada. Encouraging the citizens of Portland to “choose love” instead of violence, Mayor Ted Wheeler and Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell essentially gave the streets to interlopers from out of state and others who took advantage of the hands-off approach and complete lack of law enforcement presence until the violence finally devolved into a shooting in the city’s downtown.

The Proud Boys and other right-wing agitators marauded through the streets of Northeast Portland, firing paintball guns out of moving trucks. They also toppled and looted a medical supply van and brawled in the street with anti-fascist adversaries amid fireworks and smoke bombs, with police nowhere to be seen.

 

While the Portland Police Bureau made it clear Friday that they wouldn’t wade directly into any skirmishes, it is unclear whether any police were present at all during the rally, even around the perimeter of the nearly 7-acre lot, where armed attendees stood guard at the various exit points. The Police Bureau also omitted naming the involved groups. “Some individuals committed acts of violence and property destruction both in downtown Portland and in the Argay Terrace neighborhood after some people physically challenged each other,” the bureau wrote obliquely.

That follows a pattern: Both Wheeler and Lovell also declined on Friday to name the groups they anticipated arriving in Portland this weekend. During the rally, however, those affiliations were apparent: Most attendees wore gear affiliated with right-wing ideologies or paramilitary groups. The affiliations included the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters, and supporters of Donald Trump. Proud Boys affiliate Tusitala “Tiny” Toese appeared to headline the rally by introducing speakers and queueing the music.

The rally, for the most part, remained calm until around 4 pm when a skirmish broke out between right-wing and anti-fascist counter-protesters dressed in black bloc. The fighting spilled out onto adjacent 122nd Avenue—a major artery that runs through the Argay Terrace neighborhood. Burgerville, Round Table Pizza, and Parkrose High School are all a stone’s throw away.

The violence appeared to escalate when a white Metro West Ambulance pulled into the southwest corner of the parking lot. The driver apparently crashed and fled the scene. Witnesses of the incident described a fight between the van’s passengers and right-wing protesters. Soon after, Proud Boys-affiliated protesters toppled and ransacked the van, and shot at it with paintball guns and spray-painted “FAFO”—short for “f*ck around and find out”—onto the van’s roof.

Elsewhere in downtown Portland, police actually responded to an active shooter situation that seemed connected to the Proud Boys. Officers responded to the scene in the area of Southwest 2nd Avenue and Southwest Yamhill Street just after 5:45 p.m. after reports of a shooting. Video of the situation shows a man standing behind a garbage can, pulling the trigger of what appears to be a handgun several times. Police said no injuries were reported.



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