Portland on edge as far-right group holds rally with counterprotesters nearby

Clay Curtis
September 29, 2020

Portland has seen protests nearly nightly since the police killing of George Floyd in May.

The men-only Proud Boys group describes itself as a fraternal organization that is "anti-racism" and "anti-political correctness".

Proud Boys leaders said the group's presence pushed Brown to declare an emergency and create a state and local police task force to keep the peace in a city President Donald Trump has called an "anarchist jurisdiction".

Earlier, the Park & Recreation Bureau denied the group permission to hold the rally at Delta Park because it would have breached safety measures in place because of the coronavirus pandemic, though the group has chose to gather at the park nevertheless.

Supporters of President Trump pray during a gathering in Delta Park.

Violence between protesters on the political left and right have escalated since mid August, with a self-declared anti-fascist shooting dead a right-wing Patriot Prayer member in Portland on Aug. 29.

"Journalists and law enforcement officers have hard jobs to do during these demonstrations, but I do still believe that we can protect free speech and keep the peace", Brown tweeted.

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Civil rights group the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the Proud Boys as a hate group, citing its members' anti-Muslim and misogynist rhetoric. No, we don't support the ideals or the group that you speak of. The violence followed a relatively peaceful rally by the self-declared Western Chauvinist Proud Boys group on Saturday. Picture taken September 23, 2020.

"We condemn white supremacy, and acknowledge the pain, fear, and psychological and physical harm that events like Proud Boys rallies bring to people in our communities, especially for black, brown, indigenous and other people of color", Kelly Simon, interim legal director at the ACLU of OR, said in a statement issued on Sunday.

Fred Perry stopped selling the design in the U.S. in 2019, "and we will not sell it there or in Canada again until we're satisfied that its association with the Proud Boys has ended", the company said in a statement.

"They've allowed 120 days of rioting and looting and murder happening within our streets and we're locals so we're just exhausted of this, that's why we're out here today", said Haley Adams, wearing an anti-stab vest and a stars and stripes bandana.

While the Proud Boys continued to wear the yellow-and-black shirts at the Saturday Rally, Fred Perry in its statement referred to a 2017 response from Chairman John Flynn when asked if they support the group: "Fred was the son of a working class socialist MP who became a world tennis champion at a time when tennis was an elitist sport".

While the governor acknowledged the Proud Boys right to "express themselves freely", she stressed violence will not be tolerated. "I am incredibly concerned about this increased risk of violence in Portland this weekend, and for the safety of Oregonians".

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