Pro-Trump and anti-fascist demonstrators square off near Waterfront Blues Festival
There were some heated moments as protesters in dueling demonstrations came face to face in downtown Portland Friday evening while the Waterfront Blues Festival played out nearby.
Some punches were thrown and a few demonstrators were reportedly pepper-sprayed by other protesters.
Supporters of the conservative, pro-President Trump group, Patriot Prayer, chanted, "U.S.A!" as anti-fascist protesters shouted, "Nazis out!"
Police showed up in riot gear, keeping their distance as anarchists burned American flags.
Patriot Prayer's "Freedom March" started at Salmon Street Springs where counterprotesters gathered as well in part to speak out against Trump.
"It's the (former FBI Director) James Comey firing, it's the attitude towards immigrants. That's something that really gets me going," Steve Gerken, an anti-Trump protester, told a KATU reporter. "You and me, we’re here because when our ancestors were immigrants they were welcomed.”
But Patriot Prayer organizer, Joey Gibson, said his group is not about hatred.
"We're way more diverse than they are so that makes no sense to me," Gibson said. "We don't care about skin color. I don't care about sexuality. I don't care about any of that stuff."
Still, Gibson admitted not everyone there agreed with him including at least one neo-Nazi.
Meantime, at the fenced-off Waterfront Blues Festival nearby, Libby Crawford, a Portland-area native, said she just wanted to enjoy the show.
"I just don't understand the protests anymore. They've lost their message to me," Crawford said. "Their message is completely unclear. It's 'I hate Trump' or 'I like Trump' and I'm just so tired of all of it."
Sgt. Pete Simpson, a spokesman for the Portland Police Bureau, said there were no reports of any arrests.
"We are monitoring at a distance," Simpson explained. "I’m not aware of any permits or need for permits based on the information publicly available."
Gibson said he quit his job as a real estate agent for Summa North Real Estate after members of the group, Rose City Antifa (Antifascists), harassed the company.
“I just felt like it would be better for me to step down. Not really gonna affect me, don’t really care," Gibson said. "I think it’s good for all those agents who don’t even know me. And they were harassing an office that had nothing to do with me, so I think that that company doesn’t deserve to go through that.”
On Twitter, Rose City Antifa said its members picketed outside of Summa North's office in St. Johns on Friday, although Summa North is actually based in Vancouver. The group later claimed Summa North fired Gibson based on a message they received from the principal broker for Summa Realty in Oregon.
Kristen Riggs, the owner of Summa North Real Estate, said the principal broker that Rose City Antifa heard from did not have the power to fire Gibson and is the owner of Summa Realty, not Summa North Real Estate, where Gibson worked.
She left a voice mail for a KATU reporter on Saturday saying in part:
"(Gibson) is an independent contractor, a fully-licensed real estate broker in the state of Washington. He did have his license hung with our company and he voluntarily removed it when the Rose City Antifa continued to harass not only our office but all of the brokers who pretty much know each of our brokers in the office. They were threatening to contact and to approach our clients, so anyone who was actually noted as a listed home, posting flyers and signs. Joey just wanted to minimize that. Their harassment started Tuesday of this week and on Thursday he contacted me and offered to leave the company. He’s still a licensed real estate broker in the state of Washington. Our company stance was that he was very kind and gracious to do so mostly to protect the other brokers. It’s unfortunate that these people feel like they can attack innocents and damage their businesses and their reputations or even have the audacity to go after people who are just trying to sell their properties.”