PORTLAND, Ore. — Alt-Right and white nationalist groups came to downtown Portland near the Multnomah County Justice Center on Saturday and began clashing with Antifa and other groups opposed to their presence.
According to Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, her office was aware of the planned alt-right presence on Friday. She sent out a tweet thread denouncing their organizing and recruiting in Portland.
Portland police released a press release after the violence cleared downtown after 4 p.m.
It addressed why it had not declared the violence in downtown a riot, despite it meeting riot criteria. It cited a lack of resources from the protests the night before as one of the reasons why:
There have been questions about why the events downtown were not declared a riot and why police did not intervene. Incident commanders have to weigh out the entire situation to determine if police action is likely to make things safer or not. In this case there were hundreds of individuals and many weapons within the groups and an extremely limited amount of police resources actually available to address such a crowd. Additionally, PPB members have been the focus of over 80 days of violent actions directed at the police, which is a major consideration for determining if police resources are necessary to interject between two groups with individuals who appear to be willingly engaging in physical confrontations for short durations.
While the activity in the group met the definition of a riot, PPB did not declare one because there were not adequate police resources available to address such a declaration. PPB had roughly 30 officers available for crowd management and there were several hundred individuals associated with the events downtown.
Officers found a bucket full of condoms with an unknown substance that appeared to be water and flitter inside and a bottle filled with what appeared to be urine. It is unclear why these were placed near the Justice Center, but it was confiscated, according to a PPB press release.
Portland police also said both sides were spraying pepper and/or bear spray and throwing projectiles.
The alt-right group became violent with Antifa and other groups of people Downtown. Fights broke out and journalist Cory Elia reported large amount of bear spray being used by alt-right members.
At around 2:45 p.m., federal officers declared an unlawful assembly in Terro Schrunk Plaza.
Oregon Public Broadcasting reporter Sergio Olmos reported seeing an alt-right member pulling what appears to be a gun on a crowd at around 2 p.m. No shots were fired. Portland police later said it learned through Sergio Olmos' tweet that a man flashed a gun. It is investigating.
However, the last time alt-right members came to Portland and clashed with Antifa and others, shots were allegedly fired outside of a car as it was leaving a parking garage with alt-right members inside it. A casing was recovered by a witness.
The group also began attempting to dismantle and vandalize a snack van that is a popular staple during the nightly Portland protests.
Independent journalist Suzette Smith caught this brief but intense fight.
Portland Police are announcing over the LRAD device that if alt-right and others continue to fight that it will be declared an unlawful assembly, according to Elia. PPB posted on their Twitter a message along the same lines, warning those in downtown that they could be subject to force if they are engaged in criminal activity.
Tweets from KGW photojournalist John Helm show the groups starting to congregate shortly after 12:00 p.m.
People who do not appear to be affiliated with alt-right organizations showed to support a 'Back the Blue' protest in opposition to the nightly protests that have been occurring in Portland for more than 80 nights.