The far-right groups stood across the street and laughed as they watched police deploy explosive devices on their adversaries.
In the latest episode of a familiar, violent dance, Portland police deployed explosive devices and chemical irritants at antifascist protesters who arrived on the waterfront to confront right-wing marchers.
The far-right groups, led by U.S. Senate candidate Joey Gibson and a men's fraternity called the Proud Boys, stood across the street and laughed as they watched police deploy "flash-bangs" on their adversaries.
Shortly before 2 pm, police gave multiple orders for people standing at Southwest Naito Parkway and Columbia Street to move west.
Antifascist protesters refused to comply. Some put their hands up. Others banged on plastic shields and shouted "Whose streets? Our streets."
After several announcements over loudspeaker, officers fired several flash bangs into the crowd. Bitter smoke filled the air and people began to scramble west.
Protesters threw rocks and bottles at police. A reporter for The Oregonian, Eder Campuzano, was struck by a projectile during the melee and was seen bleeding from his forehead.
Antifascists scrambled for cover near the waterfront Marriott as riot police followed them, shooting off crowd-control devices like pepper balls at the retreating protesters. Someone knocked over a port-a-potty in the chaos, as smoke clouded the streets.
"All cops are bastards," the fleeing protesters screamed.
Portland police deploy pepper balls at antifascist protesters. (Sam Gehrke)
It was a familiar scene—nearly identical to the dueling protests on June 4, 2017, the last time two protest contingents of this size met in Portland's streets. The police use of force and detaining of left-wing protesters led to a lawsuit backed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon. It also led the city's independent police oversight office to recommend reforms of how police treated protesters.
Today, police told the left-wing crowd to disperse because they said left-wing and antifascist protesters threw projectiles at them. It's hard to know with certainty what triggered the police use of force: Today's antifascist crowd numbers in the thousands.
Meanwhile, Gibson's group proceeding unmolested out of Tom McCall Waterfront Park and into Portland streets. Police gave them a stern lecture and ordered them back into the park.