PORTLAND — Opposing rallies in Portland on Sunday drew hundreds of people and sparked clashes between far-right and anti-fascist protesters.
A far-right group held a rally in northeast Portland Sunday afternoon that drew about 100 people and included chants to free the “political prisoners,” referring to those incarcerated in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
The rally in a former Kmart parking lot had initially been planned for downtown, but the right-wing participants told a reporter that they had moved it to the northeast Portland location to try to avoid clashing with left-wing protesters who had organized a counterprotest in the downtown area that attracted more than 200 people.
Later, shots were fired near demonstrators downtown. Dustin Brandon Ferreira, 37, a left-wing activist, told The Oregonian/OregonLive he was with others Sunday evening when a man used a slur against a Black man in the group and then fired multiple rounds in their direction.
Portland police said the man was arrested. No one was injured.
The right-wing rally in northeast Portland passed without disruption until the very end, when some of the anti-fascist protesters arrived at the parking lot in the late afternoon and confrontations broke out between the two groups.
The rally drew many members of the Proud Boys, dressed in black and yellow. The event was intended to commemorate a right-wing rally from last August that also included fighting with left-wing activists and the use of pepper spray.
The crowd this Sunday was smaller compared with a year ago, and people were spread out around the parking lot. Some were on watch duty, rather than gathering close by the stage that had the backdrop of a large American flag.
At one point, a van was driven to the edge of the parking lot and then crashed. Some of those at the rally smashed the windows of the van. The driver ran away, but fights broke out after some of the anti-fascist protesters arrived to inspect the vehicles.
Some of the rally members then fought with a group of anti-fascist protesters elsewhere in the northeast Portland neighborhood. It was unclear whether people were injured.
Eventually, the rally participants who had left the parking lot returned, and overturned the van as they yelled obscenities about antifa.
Warning: Video contains graphic language.
The Portland police did not show up at the former Kmart parking lot as things turned violent.
In a statement released Sunday evening, the Portland Police Bureau said that some acts of violence and property destruction are under investigation. In Northeast Portland, they said the clash involved people lighting fireworks, spraying chemicals as well as firing what appeared to be paintball and airsoft guns.
“As in past such events, we are conducting follow-up investigations, gathering evidence, and will make arrests when probable cause exists that specific persons committed crimes. Just because arrests are not made at the scene, when tensions are high, does not mean that people are not being charged with crimes later,” the statement said.
The initial plans for the opposing demonstrations to unfold in the downtown area had prompted Portland police to call in all available police personnel.
Portland police Chief Chuck Lovell said Friday that despite expecting clashes, police would not necessarily be standing in between opposing groups
Oregon State Police, the Sheriff’s Office and other local partners were also helping address the situation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.