Friday, 18 August, 2017

Pro-Trump rally, counter protests draw thousands in downtown Portland

Think Too Much: Free speech in spotlight in Portland Alt-Right, White Nationalist, Free Speech: The Far Right's Language Explained
Kelley Robertson | 05 June, 2017, 08:10

At least 14 people were arrested on Sunday amid competing protests in Portland, Oregon, over a tangled web of emotions to arise from a deadly commuter train stabbing in May.

The free-speech rally organized by a conservative group called Patriot Prayer drew hundreds to a plaza near City Hall.

Protesters from both sides continually shouted chants and epithets at each other, as tempers flared and occasional shoving matches broke out, though police managed to keep the two groups mostly separated and peaceful.

"There will be a robust law enforcement presence due to online threats of violence between different groups", the Portland Police wrote in a statement in the days ahead of the rallies. CNN crews on the scene observed that most of the arrests were concentrated in the area of counterdemonstrators.

At a recent court hearing, Christian ranted about free speech and patriotism.

"I'm calling on everyone to please, do everything you can to be positive", he said.

Don't Shoot Portland has announced that it is holding a free barbecue Sunday at 1 p.m.at Dawson Park in North Portland, called "Black is handsome and Our Voices Matter".

"He came, and was causing problems for everyone and we eventually kicked him out", Gibson said.

- Portland Police (@PortlandPolice)Makeshift shield seized.

Police have charged 35-year-old Jeremy Joseph Christian of North Portland in connection with those crimes.

Sunday's rally - in an outdoor plaza sandwiched between City Hall and the jail where Christian is being held - provided a vivid illustration of the city's divisions.

In the center of it all, at the rally, an assembly of right-wing groups including American Freedom M/C, Patriot Prayer, the III Percenters and Oath Keepers gathered, many of them vowing to defend free speech.

"The goal is to keep everybody separated, respect First Amendment rights for everybody to speak their piece", the mayor told KOIN 6 News. Federal officials said there was "no basis" to revoke the permit on federal land, Fox 12 added.

Trump rally organizers also rebuffed Wheeler's pleas to cancel their demonstration, leading several opposition groups to issue calls on social media for counter-protests and setting the stage for a possible confrontation.

Joey Gibson, an activist with the pro-Trump group Patriot Prayer, told local media he had arranged for private security to accompany his supporters on Sunday amid fears of violence. It was about taking a stand for President Trump and free speech in a liberal part of the country.

Anti-facists have become a recurring presence at events testing the limits of free speech. "There have been talks of the oathbreakers and other militia groups showing up". A pro-Donald Trump free speech rally had been previously planned by a conservative group.

On the left, where the crowds vastly outnumbered the pro-Trump numbers, protestors carried signs supporting gay rights, immigrant rights and Black Lives Matter.

Across the street, Trump supporters waved "Make America Great Again" signs and wore the corresponding red hats.

Officers arrested four people from that crowd, but they released all others after checking people's identification. Others threw multiple large water bottles, sticks and other projectiles at the truck, which then sped away. Another wearing a "Police Lives Matter" T-shirt said she wanted to "reverse the lies" surrounding Trump supporters. They're chanting "love, not hate".

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