The conservative group Patriot Prayer received a permit to rally in downtown Portland, Oregon, on Saturday and were confronted by twice as many masked Antifa thugs. The two sides clashed, and police revoked the group’s permit, declaring a riot.
Four people were hurt in the melee as well as one policeman.
Things turned ugly shortly after 6 p.m., when Patriot Prayer protesters spilled into Third Avenue to begin their permitted march through the streets of Portland.
Antifascist counter-demonstrators immediately began lobbing eggs, half-empty water bottles and firecrackers at the conservative marchers, prompting federal police to fire paintballs filled with pepper spray into the crowd.
Portland police said four people were struck by the projectiles and had to be taken to the hospital. An officer was also struck and taken to the hospital.
The two groups continued heckling each other even as police intervened.
The bureau declared a riot and revoked the march permit soon after police said they witnessed several instances of assault and other criminal activity.
Portland police closed Chapman and Lownsdale squares around the same time, according to a tweet sent out by the department. They ordered rioters to clear the area and warned that non-compliance would lead to arrest.
The founder of Patriot Prayer, Joey Gibson, has been described as an “extremist” and the group has been smeared as advocating for white supremacy. Gibson has denounced white supremacist groups and has worked diligently to exclude them from Patriot Prayer rallies. Gibson describes himself as a conservative libertarian who supports free speech and is against big government. As a right-wing “extremist group,” Patriot Prayer is a failure.
But that hasn’t stopped the media from portraying the groups as a bunch of right-wing crazies. It may be unusual for a conservative group to hold a rally in one of the most liberal cities in the nation, but that’s the whole point of Patriot Prayer. Free speech atrophies unless it is freely exercised — even when the message is unwelcome. Gibson has successfully exposed the left as authoritarian thugs for trying to stop peaceful rallies.
Gibson said he wanted to “bring light into a city that’s full of darkness,” verbally bashing Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown. Gibson is one of 13 candidates vying for the GOP nomination in the U.S. Senate race in Washington, according to Ballotpedia.
A group of die-hard supporters exploded in raucous cheers as Gibson delivered his speech, where he mentioned his Senate campaign only once near the end of his address.
There were no white supremacist or alt-right groups in evidence on Saturday when Antifa thugs attacked peaceful protesters.