Tension mounts in US city of Portland after march by white supremacists
Washington DC, Sep 26 (efe-epa).- Hundreds of people on Saturday took part in a march organized by far-right group Proud Boys in Portland, United States, amid a nearby counter-protest by anti-racism protesters of the Black Lives Matter movement
Local media reported that the police arrested at least three people during the neo-Nazi march and were investigating an attack on a citizen who was live-streaming the event and was allegedly pushed to the ground and hit in the face.
The police also confiscated baseball bats, paintball guns, and shields from the right-wing protesters.
Civil rights organization Southern Poverty Law Center considers Proud Boys, infamous for its misogynist and anti-Islam rhetoric, hate mongers.
The group on Saturday gathered in large numbers at Delta Park, around 8 km away from Irving Park, where the anti-racism rally took place. Both events were monitored by a heavy police deployment.
On Friday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown, a Democrat, had declared a state of emergency in Portland over the weekend and announced that state police and the office of Multnomah County Sheriff – which covers Portland – would jointly head a massive police operation to maintain peace.
“We will not tolerate violence and tragedy this weekend. Violence is never the answer,” Brown said in a statement.
The crowd at the demonstration organized by Proud Boys was smaller than expected, as the group had expected to gather thousands of people.
The group had been one of the organizers of a 2017 neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Virginia, during which a woman was killed and dozens other injured.
It describes itself as an association that fights for freedom of expression and backs US President Donald Trump in his attempts to “restore law and order.”
Saturday’s demonstration was to end “domestic terrorism” by left-wing activists in Portland.
Proud Boys had publicized their march on Facebook for weeks before the social network announced on Friday that they had blocked its communications.
Portland has witnessed four months of massive night demonstrations against racism after the May 25 killing of black citizen George Floyd, asphyxiated by a white police officer in an incident that triggered a nationwide wave of protests.
In mid-August, the city also became a rallying point for far-right groups, which held multiple street marches, leading to clashes with left-wing activists.
On Aug. 29, during one such march, a member of anarchist group Antifa allegedly shot dead a Trump supporter and member of far-right group Patriot Prayer.
Violence has spiked in the US in recent weeks and in another incident on Aug. 25, a 17-ear-old white supremacist fired a semi-automatic rifle against three people, killing two of them, during an anti-racism march in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Saturday’s protest in Portland also came amid heightened tensions following massive anti-racism protests in Louisville, Kentucky. EFE-EPA