Portland Police Grapple With Violent Protests (Photos)

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Protests in Portland turned violent as a right-wing prayer group and anti-fascist demonstrators clashed on Sept. 10.

The opposing groups gathered in downtown Portland but police quickly worked to separate the two groups as tensions escalated, according to KOIN. A right-wing prayer group, Patriot Prayer, informed the city of their intentions to march downtown, but upon arrival were met by protesters.

Officers made seven arrests as the altercation became physical. Two officers were also reported injured during the fracas.

A man was also arrested after he drove his black pickup truck through a crowd of anti-fascist protesters, nearly striking several people and helping to create the chaos that engulfed the protest, according to Willamette Week. The driver was arrested a short time later. 

Members of another group called the Proud Boys also sped through the streets, attacking protesters with pepper spray. Those who were hit threw rocks at the truck as it drove away. Police stopped the truck but did not make any arrests.  

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Joey Gibson, leader of Patriot Prayer, changed the route of the march from downtown Portland to nearby Vancouver, Washington, to help ensure the safety of his group.

"As you know, in Vancouver, [police] don't mess around. This is a way for us to continue to be peaceful," Gibson said in a video posted to Facebook, according to KGW. He noted that his "inner circle" would be marching in downtown Portland but urged anyone who wished to participate to meet the group in Vancouver.

Once at the rally in Vancouver, police kept Patriot Prayer and counter-protesters separated. Both groups shouted over one another but no physical violence ensued once the rally was moved from Portland.

Gibson's group has been involved in Portland protests in the past, and his group has been criticized for attracting white supremacists from around the country. Gibson argued his group is about freedom of speech and freedom in general.

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"Portland rejects racism, bigotry, and xenophobia," said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler before the day's events as part of a larger warning to citizens. "We reject white supremacy. Messages of hate are not welcome in Portland. We have seen -- far too often -- how these words of hate can quickly turn to acts of violence. Portland also rejects violence," he said.

"Around the country, we’ve seen demonstrations that have involved arrests and illegal acts," he continued. "My hope is that we are better than that. We can do it better. We can do it the Portland way. In Portland we celebrate diversity, we stand up for others, we promote unity, and we practice non-violence."

Sources: KOIN, Willamette Week, KGW / Featured Image: Jeff Gunn/Flickr / Embedded Images: Willy Gagan/Willamette Week, Andrew Dymburt/Twitter

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