Proud Boys clash with left-wing protesters at abandoned Portland Kmart – AL.com

Far right-wing demonstrators and left-wing protesters clashed Sunday in Portland, a conflict that spilled onto busy Northeast 122nd Avenue and for about 30 minutes transformed into a roving melee.

An estimated 300 demonstrators gathered at Tom McCall Waterfront Park earlier in the day to protest planned gatherings by right-wing groups who on Sunday morning moved their events to an abandoned Kmart parking lot off Northeast 122nd Avenue.

By mid-day, splinter groups from the left arrived at the right wing gathering, prompting verbal skirmishes, followed by physical fights in the street.

Portland police were conspicuously absent throughout much of the afternoon even has left-wing activists erected barricades on downtown streets. On Twitter, the bureau said it was monitoring the situation.

About 5:45 p.m. local time, shots rang out at Southwest 2nd and Taylor, prompting a police response. The circumstances of the shooting were not immediately clear.

Members of both sides were heavily armed. Bats, paintball guns and wooden spears were among the weapons observed on the left and paintball guns and bats were seen among members of the right. People on both sides carried large shields.

A person clad in black was seen at the waterfront carrying what appeared to be a rifle and bullets. It was not immediately clear whether the rifle could have been a replica.

Around 4 p.m., a white van leading left-wing demonstrators drove into the Kmart parking lot in Northeast Portland and crashed near the entrance. Members of the right-wing activist group the Proud Boys shot it with paint balls and smashed it with baseball bats.

The conflict then escalated with dozens streaming onto the four-lane roadway in Northeast Portland. Bursts of fireworks went off, shrouding the street in clouds of black smoke. Tear gas was used by some protesters, though the source was unclear.

Later, after the street skirmish was over, some Proud Boys returned to the parking lot and flipped over the van. The group also slashed the tires and smashed the windows of a silver truck.

The moving conflict ended up in the parking lot of Parkrose High School.

By late afternoon, activists downtown had erected barricades on city streets using construction materials and fences. The groups blocked the intersections of Southwest Salmon and Naito Parkway, as well as Southwest Taylor and Naito.

It was unclear whether anyone was injured throughout the day.

The left-wing demonstrators initially congregated downtown, even as the right-wing organizers of the “Summer of Love” event for “Patriots Spreading LOVE not HATE” relocated their demonstration.

The right-wing group was comprised of about 100 people, many associated with the Proud Boys. They congregated in the parking lot of the former Kmart in front of a stage with a backdrop that featured a large American flag and the Statue of Liberty.

The group hung a sign reading, “Free our political prisoners” from the former store, referring to insurrectionists arrested for their participation in the U.S. Capitol attack on Jan. 6.

Proud Boys member Tusitala “Tiny” Toese said the group did not plan to go downtown and had moved the event to avoid clashing with left-wing groups.

“We relocated the rally to avoid the altercation and the violence between us and the people on the left, but if they do show up here, we’re going to defend ourselves,” Toese said.

Toese, who has been a fixture of right-wing demonstrations that have led to bloody brawls in Portland and other cities, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge in January 2020 stemming from a 2018 beating in Northeast Portland and was sentenced to six months in jail last fall after violating his probation. The Multnomah County District Attorney’s office confirmed earlier this month that Toese is not currently on probation.

Later Sunday, Toese was seen covered in white film, apparently from a paintball gun. At one point, he opened fire on members of the left with a paintball gun.

Early in the day, families strolled along the Portland waterfront and cyclists sped by as the gathering of left-wing demonstrators, many clad in black, swelled around Salmon Springs Fountain. Some of the demonstrators wore helmets or donned protective gear labeled, “ACAB” or “antifa.” People in the group held up signs reading, “Goodnight White Pride” and “No Love 4 Nazis.”

Members of the Portland interfaith clergy resistance, an interfaith collective of Portland faith leaders, gathered with the group as part of their mission to “accompany those who seek justice in the streets.”

“(I hope) that everyone’s right to assemble and speak freely can be respected peacefully,” said Rabbi Ariel Stone, “and that the city will uphold its obligations to support and protect and serve its citizens by keeping any violence, or anyone who chooses to bring violence into the city away from the people who live here.”

One speaker at the waterfront urged demonstrators not to go to the former Kmart parking lot where members of the Proud Boys were congregated, saying protesters they had done their job just by showing up.

However, by the late afternoon, about 100 protesters had left the downtown gathering. The left-wing protesters that remained started to block off Southwest Salmon Street with road signs and other barricades at about 5 p.m.

Sunday’s planned gatherings were spurred by a similar event one year ago where right-wing demonstrators, including some affiliated with the Proud Boys, faced off against anti-fascist counter-demonstrators in downtown Portland. The two groups pelted each other with paintballs, mace and rocks as Portland police stayed largely out of the way.

A week after last year’s demonstrations, Michael Reinoehl, an anti-facist demonstrator, fatally shot Aaron Danielson, a member of the far right group Patriot Prayer, after a pro-Trump rally in downtown Portland.

Portland Police Chuck Lovell said at a Friday press conference that police would not be getting in the middle of any dueling groups Sunday, but would instead monitor the events from the outside in case demonstrators break the law.

“My message today is simple: If you’re considering coming downtown to fight, threaten people or participate in violence stay away,” Lovell said Friday. “If people do engage in violent activity or property destruction, they face arrest and prosecution.”