Right-wing activists and those protesting their presence converged Saturday on Portland’s downtown waterfront in a much-anticipated confrontation that captivated a nation inflamed by rising division and resentment. Even President Donald Trump entered the fray, tweeting that the so-called “Antifa” groups are “under consideration” for classifiying as a terror group, The Oregonian reports. Police separated demonstrators on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum as members of the Proud Boys and counterprotesters both arrived. The Proud Boys gathered to condemn self-described anti-fascist activists, or antifa, who publicly confront those they believe espouse racist or bigoted views and who have a large presence in Portland. The groups traded shouts of “USA” and “Go home, Nazis” during the sometimes tense face-off.
After taunts and chants, the showdown devolved into a game of cat-and-mouse as packs of political rivals crisscrossed bridges above the Willamette River and police scrambled to keep them apart. Skirmishes, pepper spray and arrests followed over the course of hours as crowds of mostly counterprotesters roamed the streets. Demonstrators dressed in black and masking their faces hurled mayonnaise and smashed windows of at least one shuttle bus carrying right-wing activists. Police declared a civil disturbance. Yet the powder keg that elected leaders and law enforcement feared could engulf the city largely fizzled. Various factions jockeyed to declare victory. “We wanted national attention and we got it,” said Joe Biggs, a Florida resident and former InfoWars staffer who organized the right-wing event. “Mission success.” The Proud Boys describe themselves as “patriots” and “Western chauvinists.” A number of their members are supportive of misogynistic, racist or xenophobic sentiments. Others are prone to violence. Trump tweeted: “Major consideration is being given to naming ANTIFA an ‘ORGANIZATION OF TERROR.’ Portland is being watched very closely.”