Masked, black-clad Antifa demonstrators threw smoke and projectiles at police officers during rallies in downtown Portland on Sunday, injuring at least two, according to police.
The Rally and March Against White Nationalism, which was organized by the Portland Stands United Against Hate group, started off at a park on the waterfront with speakers leading demonstrators in song and prayers, Fox 12 reported.
Police then changed the planned route of the march to avoid violence but got the opposite effect when the demonstrators and an opposing group, Patriot Prayer, that was also scheduled to hold a rally, clashed.
Police said seven suspects were taken into custody after demonstrators threw projectiles and smoke bombs, and knocked down a fence that police had erected.
Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson originally planned to hold a larger rally in Portland but it was moved to nearby Vancouver, Wash., in an attempt to keep it safe and family-friendly, according to Fox 12.
Patriot Prayer bills itself as a peaceful First Amendment advocacy group that appears in locations where there have been past confrontations over free speech.
According to Gibson, their rallies are rooted in “a philosophy about promoting love and peace but doing it in a way that’s respectful. It’s about building bridges.”
Antifa members apparently ignored this fact. During the past year, the violent group has surfaced at progressive demonstrations and counter-protests to alt-right groups and speakers across the country — leaving critics to question Antifa’s role in the leftist protest movement and to ask if the group is causing more harm than good.
Antifa, short for anti-fascist, traces its roots back to militant anti-fascists operating in Nazi Germany during the 1930s. The emergence of these modern groups in the United States — which are comprised predominantly of radical anarchists and focus more on fighting far-right ideology than on encouraging pro-left policies — coincided with a rise of white nationalists following the election of Barack Obama in 2008, analysts said.
Several of the weapons seized so far today. pic.twitter.com/U6z2jO0BVu
— Portland Police (@PortlandPolice) June 4, 2017
President Trump’s election really set them off, and Antifa members have been fighting with right-wing activists and police in cities from Philadelphia to Houston to Hamburg, site of this year’s G-20 summit, ever since.
On Aug. 15, Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi issued a strongly-worded statement slamming the National Park Service’s decision to permit a Patriot Prayer rally at Golden Gate Park and claimed that it is actually an execrable hate group.
“The National Park Service’s decision to permit a white supremacist rally …raises grave and ongoing concerns about public safety,” Pelosi wrote. “Free speech does not grant the right to yell fire in a crowded theater, incite violence or endanger the public in any venue.”
Pelosi then went on to “wonder” whether the decision to permit the “white supremacist rally” was made “under guidance from the White House.”
— KATU News (@KATUNews) September 10, 2017
Another collection of weapons seized today. pic.twitter.com/tdMmMSM2Wp
— Portland Police (@PortlandPolice) June 5, 2017
She also questioned whether the National Park Service is “at all equipped to ensure public safety during a white supremacist rally?”
Gibson noted that calling his rally white supremacist is “beyond insane,” adding that Pelosi actually made the rally “more dangerous.”
“Nancy Pelosi said it was a white supremacist rally so she could bring out extremists on the right and the left,” Gibson said. “She’s telling white supremacists to come into town.”
A left-wing group aligned with Antifa called By Any Means Necessary said it would be on hand in the wake of the Pelosi statement.
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