14 arrested as protesters, police clash in Portland


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Thousands of people with diametrically opposing views of President Donald Trump exercised their constitutionally protected right to free speech in downtown Portland Sunday, just days after a man on a racist tirade stabbed 3 people on a MAX train.

A heavy police presence worked diligently to keep the events peaceful, and at least 3 people were arrested early in the day for agitating people from other groups.  

But around 3:30 p.m. counter-protesters in Chapman Square began tangling with Portland police, who responded with tear gas and flash bangs. Police ordered the counter-protesters to leave the park and a confrontation ensued. The pro-Trump rally in Terry Schrunk Plaza is still underway, and thousands of people remain in the streets around downtown Portland.

The fringe group moved to Lownsdale Square and continued to face off with police, and that park was also closed.

Protesters began sitting in the streets around SW 4th and Morrison, and police began detaining people who ignored their orders. At least 5 people were seen in custody with zipties around their hands.

Federal authorities and local police spent most of their energy making sure the opposing groups were separated. Streets were blocked off and tape was put up between the events.

The 2 main groups faced off in the heart of downtown Portland. The Trump Free Speech Rally was held in Terry Schrunk Plaza, a piece of federal land directly across from Portland City Hall.

Counter-protest began first

The other side, with a rally in Chapman Square, broughty more than 60 groups for the counter-protest. While hundreds of people attended the pro-Trump rally, literally thousands of people surrounded the federal park and spilled throughout the streets of downtown.

Many people at the counter-event said they came to refute any hateful, racist or discriminatory action from Trump supporters.

By 2 p.m., Portland police confirmed the arrest of 3 people. Federal Protective Services arrested one person even before the events were scheduled to begin, according to a Portland Police Bureau tweet. A second person was arrested minutes later.

The third was arrested a short time later for reportedly agitating counter-protesters.

Pro-Trump rally

The Trump Free Speech rally began at 2 p.m. and leader Joey Gibson urged everyone to “dig deep” and “be positive” and peaceful.

The main speaker, Kyle Chapman, had not taken the stage as of 2:45 p.m. The alt-right leader, aka Based Stickman, earlier in the week tweeted: “I declare open season on the Antifa. Smash on sight!”

One attendee, Jeffrey Hughes, told KOIN 6 News he was representing various groups affiliated with the alt-right and said he believes accused MAX killer Jeremy Christian was acting in self-defense and standing up for his religious beliefs.

A 17-year-old named Sarah, who held a sign that read “Commies off our streets” said she came to the rally to defend our Constitution and free speech.

Another man, Tim, said he voted for Hillary Clinton and came to support Trump. He came to the rally because “I support the Constitution. The people on the other side of the aisle don’t believe in free speech or the right to own guns. … I happen to be a Christian and I believe in people being able to express their religion.”

Law enforcement

One big issue is whether the Trump supporters will have their own armed security around the perimeter of the federally-owned park, where no guns are allowed.

James Buchal, the head of the Multnomah County Republican Party, told KOIN 6 News he’s in favor of a private, armed security force to protect Republicans at their public events.

Wheeler, who said he will be at the police command post during the rallies, said there will be a significant police presence in the downtown area.

“The goal is to keep everybody separated, respect First Amendment rights for everybody to speak their piece,” the mayor told KOIN 6 News.

Law enforcement officials are expecting a confrontation between groups on Sunday between City Hall and the Federal Building.

KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story throughout the day.


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