The weekend’s violence was sparked by a warm-up act for a weekend waterfront rally by right-wing pastor and Christian rocker Sean Feucht, who has been organizing protests against the COVID measure as part of a tour of the West Coast. Canadian preacher Artur Pawlowski, another anti-masking, was preparing to speak to a small crowd on Saturday when the event was interrupted by anti-fascists.
Weather Fox News and others described Saturday’s fights as an attack on a Christian group by antifa (Andy Ngo described it as “a coordinated violent attack against Christian families”), the conflicts appear to have started mainly between the protesters and the “security” team, it was populated mainly by Proud Boys and militiamen.
Had wet held a rally in downtown Portland in August 2020 which was also a protest against state COVID-19 restrictions that drew several hundred unmasked participants, but relatively few protesters.
On Saturday the dynamic was reversed, with a small anti-mask crowd there to hear Pawlowski. The anti-fascists clashed with several far-right fighters, including Patriot Prayer’s Joey Gibson, early in the dispute. They then began throwing the group’s speakers and public address system into the nearby Willamette River. Portland police broke up the fight.
Conflicts continued between the counter-protesters and the security team for the remainder of Pawlowski’s presentation. Explosive fireworks were reportedly thrown at a group of children at one point. The fighting later spread to the streets of downtown Portland, and some of the Proud Boys could be seen strolling around carrying batons, baseball bats and paintball rifles. A group of them encountered a gang of anti-fascists, threatened to assault them, and were sprayed with maces that dispersed them. Many piled up in the back of a pickup truck and fled.
“The Nazis came out and we kicked them out again,” anti-fascist Wade Varner told Zane Sparling of the Portland Tribune. “I’m sitting here, totally unarmed, in a wheelchair, and this bastard shoots me in the face with a paintball.”
All of these are ex-military, ex-police, private security and, most importantly, LOVERS OF JESUS and freedom. If you mess with them or our 1st amendment right to worship God, you will meet Jesus one way or another.
Conflicts after Sunday’s rally, however, were more widespread and intense, thanks mainly to the presence of “security” from the Proud Boys, who threatened and bystanders attacked. One of the security teams that led by The famous fighter Proud Boy Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, who threatened the protesters with various weapons, including batons and a two by four.
As night fell, the fighting grew more intense and more general. Sergio Olmos of Oregon Public Broadcasting recorded several of the clashes, which took place for the better part of an hour. The anti-fascists launched fireworks at the Proud Boys, while Toese incited them by promising to hit them. with a baseball bat. Big trucks drove aggressively through the protesters, apparently with the intention of hitting some of them.
At one point, a man who appeared to be carrying a semi-automatic rifle was seen carrying it through the streets of Portland (where it is illegal to carry open firearms). passing by a crowded bar. He was also observed pointing at a photojournalist who was following him, as well as at to an unarmed black protester who yelled at him.
The man reportedly turned himself in to the police, who later found out that the man’s rifle was in fact a non-lethal Airsoft pellet pistol designed to mimic a semi-automatic AR-15. He was released and continued to prowl the streets of downtown.
When Toese and his cohorts left Portland, lit roman candles directed at protesters. Fireworks bounced off the downtown buildings.
Subsequently, highly regarded Portland Minister Rev. Chuck Currie lashed out at Ngo and Fox for painting the whole thing as an attack on Christians.
“This was not a ‘family Christian prayer event,'” he wrote. “It was a far-right political demonstration organized by a failed candidate for the CA MAGA Congress.”